public policy - Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities

2014 Listening Tour

 

listeningtours2014daltonFINAL 2Please click the image to download the flyer.
The 2014 GCDD Listening Tour,
sponsored by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD), is designed to interact and engage with the various communities around Georgia to hear what they have to say. The tour invites people with disabilities, advocates, caretakers, and anyone who wants to have their voice heard by our public policy team. As we go around Georgia and meet with you, we want to hear what's on your mind that can help shape our legislative advocacy.

Please join us for our next 2014 Listening Tour

When: Monday, October 13, 6 - 8 PM
Where:Dalton State College
             Upper Level of Pope Student Center

Who should attend:
Folks with disabilities and all those who care about them.
Why:Share what's on your mind with our public policy team & help shape our legislative advocacy. If you want to see change, we want to see you there!
RSVP:404-657-2126 or

Bring your favorite potluck dish to share!

Area disabled residents want better services

People with disabilities in the Gainesville area expressed a desire for better quality services and support at a meeting Thursday with the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities. The meeting was one of several statewide stops on the council's "listening tour" leading up to the 2015 General Assembly. Council leaders asked questions and provided information for a small group gathered at the Lanier Charter Career Academy.

"We are an independent state agency and our mission is, in the informal way I always say it, we're trying to kick the can or move the ball further for folks with disabilities and their families," said D'Arcy Robb, GCDD public policy director. Robb said she typically poses questions to the public at the listening tour meetings to stimulate discussion.

Her first question asked, "What's working in this community for people with disabilities and their families?"

Dr. Irma Alvarado, Brenau University professor and co-owner of Essential Therapy Services Inc. in Cumming, said she thinks what works for people with disabilities in Gainesville is "variable." "It depends on what you know, what's in your community," Alvarado said. "... There are some people out there looking for opportunities, but they have to look."

The second question Robb posed asked what the audience believes is not working.

Jennifer Allison, clinical instructor at Brenau University, said most people don't know what services are available locally. Others expressed concerns over the quality of services, educational opportunities, transportation to and from services and job opportunities.

"The thing we hear a lot of is jobs," Robb said. "People with disabilities want to work real jobs in the community and they just aren't getting the support they need to do that." Robb said she often hears people express a general desire to change the way the community views people with disabilities.

"One thing we hear a lot is essentially changing the culture," Robb said. "Not looking at people with a disability as first and foremost that disability.... So just being more supportive and embracing as a society, seeing people as a whole package for who they are and not just stigmatizing them for this disability or that diagnosis."

Robb said the most important part of the meeting is listening to the public. She said not only does it help give the council an idea of what Georgians with disabilities are looking for, but it lets people know they are being heard. "People have said that they appreciate, No. 1, being listened to, and us coming out in person," Robb said. "I think people appreciate that opportunity to have a community forum and have a voice."

Dawn Alford, advocate and GCDD policy development specialist, encouraged local residents to join the council's advocacy network at www.gcdd.org. "Our team focuses on advocacy, trying to push the system's change," Alford said. "In order to do that, we need the help of grass-roots advocates, people in their communities reaching out to their own legislators."

By Kristen Oliver


The original article appeared in The Gainesville Times on September 5, 2014.

Disability group to address legislative policy during visit

The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities will stop in Gainesville today to hear from people living with disabilities.

Representatives including D'Arcy Robb, the council's public policy director, and Dawn Alford, policy development specialist, at 6 p.m. will be at Lanier Charter Career Academy on Tumbling Creek Road to hear from people with disabilities regarding the 2015 legislative agenda for the council.

Council leaders hope to hear concerns, ideas and opinions from the public, according to a news release. The stop is one of several on a statewide tour leading to the 2015 General Assembly, which begins in January.

Approximately 20 percent of Americans have a disability due to birth, injury or longevity, according to the news release. The council is a federally funded, independent state agency that promotes and creates opportunities for people with disabilities through public policy initiatives, public awareness and advocacy programs.

For more information, visit www.gcdd.org.

This article originally appeared in The Gainesville Times on September 4, 2014.

GCDD Listening Tour: Neighbors in the Storm

Savannah"I just want something meaningful." That was Jessica, an ambitious, passionate young woman who's eager to complete her college education and embark on her long-term career.

"People will rise up and meet you." That was Barry, a fiery advocate who spoke eloquently about the lessons to be learned from Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

"DO SOMETHING. Use the energy of people who truly care about more than their job." That was Ed, a parent who's worked for over forty years to support his daughter in a happy, meaningful life, after being told (and refusing) to have her institutionalized as a young child.

These are just a few of the thoughtful, insightful folks who braved a monsoon-like rainstorm to come to our Savannah Listening Tour last week. A big thanks to our local host Teri Schell, of our Real Communities partnership with Mixed Greens at the Forsyth Farmer's Market, and the Real Communities team Caitlin Childs and Cheri Pace, who were in Savannah for the Mixed Greens and joined in on the Listening Tour action! This Listening Tour felt like a neighborhood gathering. About 20 of us sat around tables, enjoyed delicious eggplant dip, made some good connections and had an intense conversation.

When asked what's working, folks told us that over the long term, the educational system for folks with disabilities has really improved (even though it's got a way to go – more on that below). There is some decent transportation in the Savannah area, although, again, lots of opportunity to get better. And there are some young people who are finally experiencing real choice when it comes to finding jobs after high school.

And what's not working? One father made a case that group homes, as a model, do not work – he described them as "like a nursing home" and utterly detrimental to quality of life. One person brought up the need for an independent third-party advocate to assist with ISP's, and someone else jumped in to talk about the need for better advocacy in IEP's as well. That gave me the opportunity to bring up ASPIRE, the student-led IEP program that is now a joint partnership between GCDD and the Georgia Department of Education.

Many of the issues that emerged echoed what we heard in Thomasville - folks with disabilities and their families need fewer forms to fill out, and more true involvement with communities and businesses. More funding is needed, and more flexibility. More job opportunities are needed and better support for folks as they make the transition from school to work. The need for disability awareness in the justice system came up, which is an issue that one of our new Real Communities partnerships will be focusing on.

When I asked what the most important changes we need to make are, the answers were all different....but they seemed to fit together like patches in a quilt. Support for people throughout their life span, and seamlessness across the multiple systems they must navigate. Looking beyond the "traditional" disability stomping grounds to build community opportunities and natural supports. Training and support for advocacy - I believe it was Barry who pointed out, "Self-advocacy breeds self-esteem." Opportunities for connections, with officials and agencies and businesses and individuals in communities.

Ultimately, what's needed is a cultural change. That's a tall order. But as we were all saying goodbye and goodnight, cleaning up tables and gathering papers, most of the folks in attendance stuck around talking to one another. Hands were shaken, numbers and emails were exchanged. And isn't that how all great change takes root?

Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." And, who am I to argue with her?

The GCDD Listening Tour kicks off again on September 4 in Gainesville. Join us and have your voices heard by GCDD!

The GCDD Listening Tour kicks off again on September 4 in Gainesville. Join us and have your voices heard by GCDD! - See more at: http://gcdd.org/columbuslisteningtour.html?highlight=WyJjb2x1bWJ1cyJd#sthash.0KAl0g62.dpuf

Public Policy for the People: 12 February, 2018

 

public policy for the people enews

Volume 4, Issue 42018 Legislative Session February 12, 2018

Call to Action:Attend Advocacy Day this Wednesday - share why you love Medicaid!

Keep Up-To-Date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30 am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • Read upcoming Public Policy for the People newsletters: 2/26, 3/12, 3/26

Who are my state legislators?


Looking Ahead

2018 GCDD Advocacy Days
Feb 14: Medicaid
Feb 22: Inclusive Post-Secondary Education
Feb 15: UNLOCK! Coalition
Mar 15: Medicaid

Click here to register online!


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

It has been a real whirlwind under the Gold Dome since we spoke last. The long awaited Adoption Bill passed through the Senate, which means everyone can focus on other things.

HB 831, Georgia's Employment First Act, was dropped this past week by Representative Terry Rogers. This bill would create an Employment First Georgia Council for the purpose of "advising the Governor, General Assembly, and state agencies on the adoption and integration of an employment first policy that recognizes that competitive integrated employment, including self-employment, is the first and preferred outcome of all state funded services provided to working age individuals with disabilities." GCDD is proud to support this bill and we urge you to contact your State Representative and ask them to support HB 831. Currently it has been assigned to the House Industry and Labor Committee.

The House passed the Amended Fiscal Year 18 Budget, sending it off the Senate for debate. The House was then able to move on to the Fiscal Year 19 Budget. Last week, the House Appropriations Human Resources Subcommittee held public comment, where committee members had a chance to hear from advocates on the waiting list for NOW and COMP Waivers. The testimony given was powerful and a great reminder of the importance of sharing your story.

SB 118, sponsored by Senator Renee Unterman, which raises the age limit to age 12 for coverage of autism services under private insurance policies, passed the Senate last Wednesday. It now moves on to the House of Representatives for debate.

Since our last newsletter, GCDD held one advocacy day on Employment. Our next advocacy day is this Wednesday where we will be speaking about Medicaid. We hope you will register and share with your legislator why you love Medicaid. GCDD was also excited about the Independent Living Day at the Capitol last week, as well as CO-AGE's Senior Week. Both had excellent turnouts and we were thrilled - it is always important to remind legislators about the voice of Georgians with disabilities.

The GA General Assembly has released their tentative calendarfor the the rest of session.

Need a quick refresher on GCDD's Legislative Priorities? Click here.


Learn the Lingo
Adjourn:
It ends the business of the day for the House and Senate. Committee meetings happen, but neither the entire House nor the entire Senate meet all together after adjournment.

Caucus: A group of legislators who share common ideas within the Georgia General Assembly.


Around Town with UNLOCK!

Welcome back policy advocates! We wanted to give you a few story telling tips.

  • Keep it short. Remember, you will only have about 2 to 3 minutes to tell your story when working the ropes. Some people call this an “elevator speech.”
  • Practice with a friend.
  • Learn the issue and why it matters to you or people you care about.
  • If the policy has helped, share the success story. If the policy has harmed you or someone you know, explain what happened and how your legislator can make it better.

Sharing your story can be scary at first, but it gets easier with practice! If you would like more help telling your story, please join us at the next GCDD Advocacy Day on Wednesday, February 14 to learn how it goes at the Capitol.

Also, if you have not already, please join the UNLOCK! Coalition, a partnership of powerful policy advocates and agencies, by clicking the link below to complete your membership. We hope to see you at the Gold Dome on February 14!


Some Bills to Watch:

HB 288: (Kirby) Creates penalties for using fake service animals, penalties for harming a service animal, and would allow the Department of Human Services to "authorize private service organizations... to create and issue information cards containing the department's seal" that explain the rights and penalties associated with service animals.

HB 482: (Trammel) Educational Scholarship Act - Allows parents to use the money the state would have spent on their child's public school education to pay for private school education.

HB 635: (Cooper) The Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act - creates an at-risk adult protective investigative/coordination team in each judicial circuit in Georgia to coordinate investigations of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of people with disabilities or the elderly.

HB 645: (Peake) To legalize possession of low THC oil and cultivation of cannabis for the production of low THC oil in the state of Georgia under certain conditions/medical conditions.

HB 668:(Price) Allows guardianship proceedings to begin when someone is 17 years old.

HB 669:(Trammel) Medicaid Expansion Bill.

HB 740: (Nix) Requires local school systems to conduct certain screenings before a student, in pre-K through third grade, can be expelled or suspended for more than five days. If a student has an IEP or Section 504 plan, the school will hold an IEP or Section 504 meting to review the supports currently being provided as part of their IEP or Section 504 Plan.

HB 768: (Hilton) Changes the rules around intellectual disability and capital crimes.

HB 759: (Turner) Relaxes regulations for the GA Special Needs Scholarship, to allow the children of active duty military service members stationed in GA within the previous year, or children that have previously qualified, be exempt from the requirement to have attended a public school in Georgia the prior year.

HB 776: (Douglas) The Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-term Care Facilities Act allows for the placement and use of electronic monitoring devices by the resident of a long term care facility (such as a any skilled nursing facility, intermediate care home, assisted living community, or personal care home) within their personal room.

HB 801: (Hilton) Allows the GA Special Needs Scholarship to cover services, therapies, and other materials, as opposed to only tuition.

HB 803: (Willard) Prohibits the trafficking of an adult with a disability.

HB 844: (Houston) Revises provisions of the GA Commission on Hearing Impaired and Deaf Persons, specifically around membership of commission, as well as creates a multi-agency task force to provide recommendations for improvements to the GA General Assembly and the Governor.

HB 891: (Gilliard) States that the Department of Human Services, the courts, or a child placing agency cannot deny someone child placement, child custody, visitation, guardianship, or adoption solely or primarily because the individual is blind.

SB 322: (James) Requires non-electric personal assistive mobility devices to have front and rear reflectors when used on highways or sidewalks, as well as all electric and nonelectric personal assistive devices sold after December 31, 2018 to have reflectors.

SB 357: (Burke) Creates the Health Coordination and Innovation Council of the State of Georgia, a recommendation of the Lt. Governor Cagle's Health Care Reform Task Force.

SB 406: (Strickland) The Georgia Long-term Care Background Check Program establishes minimum standards for conducting criminal background checks of owners, applicants for employment, and direct access employees at facilities such as a personal care home, assistive living community, private home care provider, home health agency, provider of hospice care, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, intermediate care home, or adult day care facility.

SB 408: (Jackson) Allows for individuals with autism to request a psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health counselor, special education instructor, clinical social worker, or any other mental or behavioral health professional be present at an interview by a local law enforcement officer.

SR 467: (Unterman) Creates a Senate Study Committee on Service Animals for Physically or Mentally Impaired Persons

SR 593: (Seay) A RESOLUTION urging the United States Congress to establish a policy whereby public facilities shall be required to provide adult changing stations.

SR 506: (Dugan) A RESOLUTION creating the Senate Study Committee on the Excessive and Duplicative Regulatory Oversight of Community Based Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Services.

SR 593: (Seay) A RESOLUTION urging the United States Congress to establish a policy whereby public facilities shall be required to provide adult changing stations.


Other Days of Note:

Feb 15: Hearts for Children Day with the Interfaith Children's Movement
Feb 15: Cover GA Day with Georgians for a Healthy Future
Feb 20: Anti-Sex Trafficking Day at the Capitol with Street Grace
Feb 26: Justice Day with the Georgia Justice Project
Mar 1: Housing Day at the Capitol with Housing Georgia

Public Policy for the People: 12 March 2018

 

public policy for the people enews

Volume 4, Issue 62018 Legislative Session March 12, 2018

Call to Action:Please call your State Senator and tell them why HB 831 is good for Georgians with developmental disabilities. Tell them we want a clean bill with no changes or amendments.

Keep Up-To-Date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30 am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • Read upcoming Public Policy for the People newsletters: 3/26

Who are my state legislators?


Looking Ahead

2018 GCDD Advocacy Days
Mar 15: Medicaid

Click here to register online!


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

Only 7 legislative days to go. With Sine Die (end date) falling on March 29, we really are in the homestretch.

As happens every year, Crossover Day serves as a filter, keeping out many bills and only letting a few through. Of course, some times bills that do not make Crossover Day end up as amendments to other bills that did, but by and large, if a bill does not make Crossover Day, then it is dead.

While not a complete listing of all bills that made Crossover Day, we do want to highlight a few below:

HB 831, Georgia's Employment First Act, passed the House of Representatives in the afternoon of Crossover Day. It was then assigned to the Economic Development and Tourism Committee in the Senate. A hearing was held Tuesday, March 6th and was voted out of committee at that time. We hope the bill will come up for a floor vote later this week. If you have not done so already, please call your State Senator and tell them that HB 831 is good for Georgians with developmental disabilities and will enable the system to better understand how to support employment for all.

SB 406, Georgia's Long-term Care Background Check Program, an initiative of the Georgia Council on Aging, made it through Crossover Day and was then assigned to the House Human Relations & Aging Committee. A hearing was held on March 8th and was voted out of committee at that time. It now waits in the Rules Committee where it must be voted out before it can go up for a vote in the House of Representatives. If you have not already called your State Representative and told them why background checks are important for your ability to rely on long-term care workers, please do so. GCDD is excited about this bill because it is a step in the right direction of GCDD's focus on creating and Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry in Georgia.

Shifting now to the budget, the House and Senate have agreed upon an Amended Fiscal Year 18 Budget. Governor Nathan Deal signed the budget into law this past Friday. A few highlights from the AFY18 budget:

  • $220,000 for the Albany Advocacy Resource Center (DBHDD)
  • Approximately $3.52 million increase in funds, and the re-utilization of $300,072 in existing funds for services and supports for youth with autism (DBHDD, DCH, DPH)
  • $2.7 million for additional Behavioral Health Crisis facility beds (DBHDD)
  • $1 million for the electronic visit verification system for home and community-based services (DCH)
  • $750,000 increase to fund the analysis of the Medicaid delivery system for the purposes of identifying efficiencies and service delivery improvement opportunities (DCH)
  • $96,196 increase for the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund (DPH)

The House of Representatives passed their version of the Fiscal Year 19 Budget. It is now on to the Senate. A few budget highlights:

  • $3.1 million to fund 125 NOW/COMP Waivers (DBHDD).
  • $6 million annualized for 250 NOW/COMP waivers added in the FY 18 Budget (DBHDD).
  • $3 million to fund one new Behavioral Health Crisis Center (DBHDD).
  • $5.7 million increase in mental health services in the community to comply with the DOJ Settlement Agreement (DBHDD).
  • $7.44 million in new funding, as well as the utilization of $316,819 in existing funding, for services for youth with autism (DBHDD, DPH, DCH).
  • $894,519 to provide funds for an electronic visit verification system for home and community-based services (DCH).
    Utilize $962,022 in existing funds to support increased background checks for owners and employees of long-term care facilities (DCH).
  • $226,725 to provide funds to increase the reimbursement rates for Adult Day Health Centers (DCH).
  • $735,961 increase in Preschool Disabilities Services, “funds for enrollment growth and training and experience” (DOE).
  • $200,000 in funding for a state hub geographically located to provide outreach and services to support independent living for citizens with disabilities in southwest Georgia (GVRA).
  • $14,000 to provide funding for an agricultural careers summer camp for youth with disabilities (GCDD).
  • $1.4 million increase in funds to make the Suicide Prevention Hotline & mobile app 24/7 (DBHDD).
  • $551,858 increase in funds for the OT and PT rates in the Babies Can't Wait Program (DPH).

Upcoming Meetings:

HR 1257, sponsored by Representative Petrea, is currently scheduled for a hearing in the House Special Rules Committee this Tuesday, March 13 at 9:00 AM in Room 506 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, located at 18 Capitol Square SW, Atlanta, GA 30334. This bill would create the House Study Committee on the Workforce Shortage and Crisis in Home and Community Based Settings. Be sure to double check the time or room has not changed here. If you are planning to come down, please email Hanna at to receive any updates.

Need a quick refresher on GCDD's Legislative Priorities? Click here.


Learn the Lingo
Conference Committee:
When the House and the Senate pass different versions of the same bill, they come together to work out their differences.

Code: All of Georgia's government statutes gathered in one place.


Around Town with UNLOCK!

Welcome back policy advocates! We hope you have continued to enjoy the tips shared in UNLOCK! articles. You may have noticed we are building on our advocacy strategies so we can better understand the legislative process in Georgia. So far we have shared OpenStates.org so you can look up your state legislators, we gave tips on how to contact and share your story with your legislator, and how to meet with your legislator. Today we want to try and simplify how a bill becomes a law. For a more detailed approach, click here.

Did you know you can work with your legislator to introduce a bill? Yep! That is exactly how HB343, to replace the “R” word, started. An advocate, like you and me, went to their House Representative with information on what other states had done to get that offensive word out of state policy. The advocate's Representative helped write the bill and get support from other representatives. Then it was:

  1. Introduced in the House
  2. Approved in a House Committee
  3. Approved in the House Rules Committee
  4. Passed a floor vote in the House

Then followed the same path in the Senate:

  1. It was read on the Senate floor
  2. Approved in a Senate Committee
  3. Approved in the Senate Rules Committee
  4. Passed a floor vote in the Senate

Ultimately, the bill became a law on May 8th, 2017 when it was signed by the Governor. All this because an advocate – just like you and me – wanted to make a real change in Georgia.

The UNLOCK! Coalition is here to help with your policy advocacy. Join us in supporting policy that will unlock communities across Georgia for people with disabilities.

Join the UNLOCK Coalition Here


Some Bills to Watch:

HB 635: (Cooper) The Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act - creates an at-risk adult protective investigative/coordination team in each judicial circuit in Georgia to coordinate investigations of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of people with disabilities or the elderly. (Senate Health & Human Services Committee)

HB 668: (Price) Allows guardianship proceedings to begin when someone is 17 years old. (Senate Rules Committee)

HB 740: (Nix) Requires local school systems to conduct certain screenings before a student, in pre-K through third grade, can be expelled or suspended for more than five days. If a student has an IEP or Section 504 plan, the school will hold an IEP or Section 504 meting to review the supports currently being provided as part of their IEP or Section 504 Plan. (Senate Education & Youth Committee)

HB 759: (Turner) Relaxes regulations for the GA Special Needs Scholarship, to allow the children of active duty military service members stationed in GA within the previous year, or children that have previously qualified, be exempt from the requirement to have attended a public school in Georgia the prior year. (Senate Education & Youth Committee)

HB 803: (Willard) Prohibits the trafficking of an adult with a disability. (Senate Health & Human Services Committee)

HB 844: (Houston) Revises provisions of the GA Commission on Hearing Impaired and Deaf Persons, specifically around membership of commission, as well as creates a multi-agency task force to provide recommendations for improvements to the GA General Assembly and the Governor. (Senate Health & Human Services Committee)

HB 853: (Dempsey) Quality Basic Education Act; children placed in psychiatric residential treatment facilities may not be charged tuition (Senate Education & Youth Committee)

SB 118: (Unterman) Raises the age limit to age 12 for coverage of autism services under private insurance policies. (House Insurance Committee)

SB 357: (Burke) Creates the Health Coordination and Innovation Council of the State of Georgia, a recommendation of the Lt. Governor Cagle's Health Care Reform Task Force. (House Health & Human Services Committee)

SR 467: (Unterman) Creates a Senate Study Committee on Service Animals for Physically or Mentally Impaired Persons (Senate Rules)

SR 593: (Seay) A RESOLUTION urging the United States Congress to establish a policy whereby public facilities shall be required to provide adult changing stations. (Senate Rules)

SR 506: (Dugan) A RESOLUTION creating the Senate Study Committee on the Excessive and Duplicative Regulatory Oversight of Community Based Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Services. (Senate Rules)

Public Policy for the People: 13 February 2017

public policy for the people header

Volume 3, Issue 4   •   2017 Legislative Session   •   13 February 2017

Call your Representative and Senator about funding more DD Waivers and Inclusive Post-Secondary Education.

Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

Today is actually an off day, meaning the Georgia General Assembly is not in session. Tomorrow, February 14 will mark the 17th Day of the Legislative Session, which means we are almost over the halfway hump. Session is really flying by and I know the last day of session, March 30, will be here sooner than perhaps we would like. Remember, if you would like to come down for a Committee meeting, you can find out the schedule at, bit.ly/GAHouseMeetings and bit.ly/GASenateMeetings.

Since the last issue of Public Policy for the People, GCDD has been hard at work talking with legislators in the House and Senate regarding the FY18 Big Budget. Since the Governor only added the 250 new NOW/Comp waivers required by the DOJ Extension Agreement, which means the majority of the new waivers will go towards moving people out of State Hospitals. GCDD is trying to get the Appropriation Subcommittee who is in charge of DD Waiver funding to allocate more money. We are asking for $12.1 million, which would fund at least 500 new waivers for 6 months (and then annualized in a later budget).

Any day now the House will be finalizing their Big Budget, and we wait with baited breath to find out how effective our advocacy has been. The important thing is that it is not too late to make a phone call to your legislator.  To find out who your legislator is, go to https://openstates.org/

 
Calling your Representative:

Hello my name is _(your name)______.

I am your constituent. I live in _(insert city or town)___

I am calling to tell you we need more DD waivers because we have almost 9,000 people on the waiting list.
Additionally, people with intellectual disabilities have a right to a good education.

We need you to tell Chairman Katie Dempsey to add

1.  $12.1 million for 6 months of funding for more DD Waivers

2.  and $300,000 for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education to the Big Budget.

Thank you.

 

 
Calling your Senator:

Hello my name is _(your name)______.

I am your constituent. I live in _(insert city or town)___

I am calling to tell you we need more DD waivers because we have almost 9,000 people on the waiting list.
Additionally, people with intellectual disabilities have a right to a good education.

We need you to tell Chairman Renee Unterman to add

1.  $12.1 million for 6 months of funding for more DD Waivers

2.  and $300,000 for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education to the Big Budget.

Thank you.

The good news though is that we have a second shot with the Senate. Once the House passes their Big Budget, it gets sent over to the Senate. The Senate then debates, makes changes, and votes on their budget. We will at this point have two different budgets -the House and Senate's. A Conference Committee will be formed to make compromises and eventually come out with one bill. Check out the Learn the Lingo Section above to learn more about Conference Committee.

Besies GCDD's Public Policy Team trolling the halls of the Gold Dome to speak with legislators about the need for more DD Waivers and more funding for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education, we have also hosted 2 advocacy days so far. On February 1st we spoke about the need for more DD Waiver funding and more funding for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education. We had so many people attend that we actually ran out of chairs in Central Presbyterian during our pre-training -how exciting! February 7th also saw great turnout despite the predicted afternoon rain and we had people from all over the state in to speak with legislators about the importance of funding more DD waivers.

We also hosted a Call To Action, where advocates from around the state took time out of their busy lives to call their legislators for more funding for DD Waivers and Inclusive Post-Secondary Education. We thank all those who called in, and also want to remind all of you that your Senator and Representative work for you. That means if you have a concern about something going on in your community that you think they need to address, then you should call them!

  • You have been on the waitlist for 10 years -call them.
  • You want to get a job out in the community -call them (also call the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency).
  • You are upset about the lack of accessible transportation in your area -call them

We all live different lives, with different experiences, and so your legislator may not know about the problems you face unless you tell them. Remember, they work for you!

In other news, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities has had some leadership changes. Ron Wakefield will be the new Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities. We hope you will join us in welcoming him to this new role. We here at GCDD look forward to our continued close relationship with the DBHDD and continue to look for ways to better work together.

Looking Ahead

Plan to attend GCDD Advocacy Days. Register online at: bit.ly/2fRxoYX

  • Feb 23 – Employment Advocacy Day
  • Feb 28 – Enable Work and Families Advocacy Day (Family Care Act, Peach Work, and Phillip Payne Personal Assistance Program)
  • March 9 – Home & Community Advocacy Day (Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry, People First Language, Residential Housing Study Committee, Transportation)

Advocates at the February 1st Advocacy Day met with their legislators to discuss more funding for DD Waivers and Inclusive Post-Secondary Education.

Our Partner's Advocacy Days (we share a common legislative goal)

Our Friend's Advocacy Days

Other Events

While GCDD is a non-partisan agency, meaning we don't endorse or support any specific political party, we do want to share with you a disability event that we believe will be of interest to many of our readers.  The Democratic National Committee Disability Council will be meeting on Thursday, February 23, 2:00pm to 3:00pm at The Westin Peachtree Plaza, 210 Peachtree Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30303. Tony Coelho, who during his time in the US House of Representatives sponsored the Americans with Disabilities Act, will be in attendance. For more details, click here.

Teach In - Changing the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disabilities in Capital Punishment Cases.  February 21 at 7:00 to 9:00 pm at St Bartholomew's Episcopal Church located at 1790 Lavista Rd, Atlanta, GA 30329. Come learn about why people with intellectual disabilities are still being executed in Georgia despite the Supreme Court ruling that it is against the constitution to execute people with intellectual disabilities for their crimes.


NOW Waiver Public Forum:
As some of you may know, the NOW waiver is up for renewal in September of 2017. The Department of Community Health and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, will be holding public forums to allow advocates such as ourselves to make recommendations for how the NOW waiver could be improved. To register to click here. It is very important that advocates show up and voice their opinions.

  • March 1 - 1:00 to 3:00pm at University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center, Tifton
  • March 6 - 7:00 to 8:00pm (Virtual Forum)
  • March 8 - 1:00 to 3:00pm at Clarence Brown Conference Center, Cartersville
  • March 9 - 11:00am to Noon (Virtual Forum)
  • March 13 - 1:00 to 3:00pm at Gwinnett Tech/Busbee Center, Lawrenceville

Keep up to date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357.
  • Join our Advocacy Network at bit.ly/GCDDAlerts
    To join you will need to provide an email address. When you sign up, be sure to select Public Policy Alerts and UNLOCK! alerts so you get the most up to date information. If you signed up last year, be sure to check and make sure your information is up to date. 
  • Read Public Policy for the People. Released every other Monday. - Feb 13, Feb 27, Mar 13, Mar 27

Learn the Lingo

yea and nay

  • Yea and Nay - No, this isn't the Georgia General Assembly getting lazy and embracing modern day slang. They refer to a legislator's vote, yea for yes and nay for no. Also called Ayes and Nays.
  • Conference Committee - A special committee made up of three Senators and three Representatives, formed when the Senate and the House pass two different versions of the same bill. The committee meets and works towards reaching an agreement. Once they reach an agreement, the Senate and the House must vote on the new bill. Only if both the Senate and House pass the comprise bill will the bill makes its way to the Governors' desk.

New Bills to Watch

As always, for a complete list of bills we are tracking, click here.

A few to draw your attention to though.

HB 43: The Amended FY17 Budget passed the Senate. The House and Senate will now enter into Conference to comprise on their differences. To see where they differed, click here.

HB 65: Low THC Oil Patient Registry: Widens the criteria of who is allowed to use Low THC Oil, a form of medical marijuana, in Georgia, to include autism spectrum disorder, intractable pain, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Tourette's syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, and HIV/AIDS. Additionally, the bill would remove the one-year residency requirement and physician's quarterly reporting. (Peake)

HB 154: Dental Hygienists Bill, which would allow dental hygienists to perform routine functions, such as teeth cleanings, in settings like community centers or nursing facilities, without a dentist being present. (Cooper)-Passed the House on February 10

HB 206: This would remove the exception currently in place relating to certain audits conducted by the Department of Community Health, so as to provide that clerical or other errors do not constitute a basis to recoup payments made by providers of medical assistance (Kelley).

HB 233: This would require handicap car decals to include a picture of the person using the handicap decal. (Marin).

HB 241: Cove's Law, this would add Krabbe disease to the list of metabolic and genetic conditions for which newborn screening may be conducted. Krabbe disease is identified as something that may result in a developmental disability. (Hawkins)

HB 343: Changing MR to ID in the Official Code of Georgia. (Hilton) - This is one of the UNLOCK! Coalition's priority issues, and we are very excited to monitor its progress.

SB 12: The Senate's version of the Dental Hygienists Bill. (Unterman). - Passed the Senate on February 10.

SB 53 would require all commercial venues that hold at least 1,000 people to install one adult changing station for a person with a disability. Historic structures or anything smaller than 1,000 people would be exempt. (Seay)

SB 118 -Will raise insurance coverage age for those with autism to age 21. (Unterman)

Quick Tip:  HB = House Bill    SB= Senate Bil

Public Policy for the People: 13 March 2017

public policy for the people enews

Volume 3, Issue 6   •   2017 Legislative Session   •   13 March 2017

Call your Senator about HB343 & your Representative about SB201.


Announcement:
The Atlanta Housing Authority Housing Choice Voucher Program Waiting List Opening!

Waiting List Pre-Application OPENS from Wednesday, March 15, 2017, at 9:00 a.m. EST
until Tuesday, March 21, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. EST       
Learn more here http://ahawaitlist.org/

Ponders by Phillip:

Phillip ModesittHow to stay involved after session:

The Georgia General Assembly only meets January through March; however, you are still able to stay involved in the political process all year long. People can stay involved in the political process by voicing their opinions on issues that are important to them. Even when the Georgia General Assembly is not in session, people can stay involved by writing the members letters or even meeting with your legislator during the year. You can find out who your legislator is by going to www.openstates.org. People can also stay involved by staying informed on current events and any new Federal bills that are being passed so that they can have up to date information. People can also attend conferences that are based around issues that are important to them. For example, the IDEA partnership is a conference that you can attend that focuses on improving outcomes for students with disabilities. Lastly, you can prepare to meet with the members again next year. People who have disabilities can meet with people who have other disabilities to prepare for the Georgia General Assembly next year.

– Phillip James Modesitt

Want to attend a conference but need a bit of help. Check out GCDD's Learning Opportunities Support Fundwhich provides scholarship assistance to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to attend advocacy, learning events, and conferences.

Be in the Know: Only 7 legislative days to go

Today is Day 32 in the Georgia General Assembly. After today there are only 7 legislative days left until the gavel falls on Sinie Die. We are in the last mile of the marathon and everyone is working at a full out sprint.

This morning the Senate Appropriations Committee met to provide their recommendations for the Big Budget for Fiscal year 2018. To start with the good news, the Inclusive Post-Secondary Education increase in funding was maintained as recommended by the House. At the request of GCDD, the Senate made a slight change to allow GCDD to maintain $75,000 of the funding GCDD receives "to maintain the council's active participation in the IPSE partnership." Previously, the House had only left $25,000 to accomplish this goal. This brings the total allocation to GVRA for IPSE to $450,000, as opposed to the House's recommendation of $500,000. With the Federal match, GVRA will have up to $2.25 million to support IPSE in Georgia. Additionally, the specific language around the number of scholarships to be provided was removed.

The bad news is that there were no new DD waivers added besides that which is required by the Department of Justice Extension Agreement. While we are disappointed, we are not discouraged and will continue fighting for a day in Georgia where all Georgians with disabilities receive the services they need to live full and integrated lives in the community. To see the relevant budget pages for IPSE and DD waivers, click here. (This link is no longer active.) 

As for the Family Care Act, SB 201, things are alive and well. The bill is currently working its way through the House of Representatives. We hope to see SB 201 on the floor for a vote in the coming weeks. This means we need you to call your Representative, and ask a friend to do the same, and ask them to vote YES on SB201, The Family Care Act. If you do see Senator Butch Miller around, be sure to thank him for all his hard work and support in pushing SB 201 through the legislative process.

We thank Representative Scott Hilton for his hard work on HB343 which resulted in the House unanimously voting to replace the offensive MR word with intellectual disability in Georgia State Code.  HB 343 is currently scheduled for a Hearing Only this Tuesday at 4:00 pm in the Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee A. Remember, to make it to the floor for a vote, a bill must first be voted favorably out of committee. Be sure to call your Senator and ask them to vote YES on HB 343, replacing the offensive MR word with intellectual disability.

Lastly, SB 185 Changing the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disability, did not make Crossover Day. While the bill is dead until next year, we are incredibly optimistic about SB 185's prospects next year. We thank Senator Elena Parent for all her hard work on this legislation. Despite not making Crossover Day, SB 185 did have a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, Sub Committee B. While no vote was taken, this was an excellent opportunity for advocates to provide testimony on the issue and for the Senators present to ask questions and get more information on the issue. We have made incredible progress on this issue this year intend to spend the off-season preparing for the 2018 session!

GCDD held two Advocacy Day's these past two weeks. It is thanks to advocates such as yourself that HB 343 and SB 201 are doing so well. Not only did our efforts give these two bills the push they needed, we also educated lawmakers on the need for transportation improvements, PeachWork, and Changing the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disabilities. All in all, they were very successful. If you attended an advocacy day and have some feedback on what went well and what didn't go so well, please take a moment to take our short anonymous survey at http://bit.ly/GCDDSurvey

On the Federal Level, Congress is currently debating the American Health Care Act. If this were to pass, it would have serious ramifications for Georgians with disabilities. We are hosting a webinar, this Wednesday, March 15 from 1:30 to 2:30pm, to help advocates learn more about the changes currently being discussed. You do not need to pre-register, just go to http://bit.ly/GCDDWebinar on Wednesday. To hear the audio, call in at 1-888-355-1249, Code# 232357

The newly formed GA Health Care Reform Task Force met for the first time this past Friday. They met to discuss what the changes on the federal level could mean for Georgia, as well as what Georgia can do now to better serve its many citizens. GCDD has joined a coalition spearheaded by Georgians for a Healthy Future to mobilize around this issue and ensure that all Georgians benefit from any proposed changes. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.

Keep Up to Date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357.
  • Join our Advocacy Network at bit.ly/GCDDAlerts
    To join you will need to provide an email address. When you sign up, be sure to select Public Policy Alerts and UNLOCK! alerts so you get the most up to date information. If you signed up last year, be sure to check and make sure your information is up to date. 
  • Read Public Policy for the People. Released every other Monday. - Mar 27

Learn the Lingo

Shall: If you are anything like me, you had no idea until you read this that 'shall' has three definitions: may, will, and must. I had not realized this until I was in a meeting the other day when some lawyers were focusing in on the word 'shall' in a piece of proposed legislation. Now to the uninformed, such as myself, 'shall' has a pretty clear meaning. But as it turns out, the US Supreme Court has ruled that 'shall' means 'may.' This means that when the word 'shall' appears in a bill, it is not a requirement. Jerry shall go to Capitol, which just means Jerry has the option of going to the Capitol, but is not required to do so. Hopefully that makes sense and we can all join in watching out for the sneaky 'shall.'

New Bills to Watch

As always, for a complete list of bills we are tracking, click here.

A few to draw your attention to though.

  • SB 149: Requires School Resource Officers to complete 40 hours of training approved by the GA Peace Officer Standards and Training, to include interactions with students with mental health diagnoses. Passed the Senate, will be heard in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security committee later today.
  • HB 273: would require every local school board to schedule a daily, 30-minute recess for student's kindergarten through 5th grade. Passed House. Assigned to the Senate Education and Youth Committee and is scheduled to be heard today.
  • SB 29: Requires drinking water in childcare learning centers and schools to be tested for lead, and if found, create a remediation plan. Passed Senate, assigned to the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee
  • HB 486: Proxy Caregivers. Passed House. In Senate, has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Quick Tip:  HB = House Bill    SB= Senate Bill

Public Policy for the People: 16 January, 2018

 

public policy for the people enews

Volume 4, Issue 22018 Legislative Session January 16, 2018

Call to Action: Call your State Rep. Ask them to support the Governor's rec. for 125 new NOW/COMP waivers,and then ask for an additional 475 waivers for a total of 600 new NOW/COMP waiver slots.

Keep Up-To-Date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30 am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • Read upcoming Public Policy for the People newsletters: 1/29, 2/12, 2/26, 3/12, 3/26

Looking Ahead

2018 GCDD Advocacy Days

Jan 23: DD Waivers
Jan 31: Employment
Feb 14: Medicaid
Feb 22: Inclusive Post-Secondary Education
Feb 15: UNLOCK! Coalition
Mar 15: Medicaid

Click here to register online!


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

While the first day of the Georgia General Assembly got off to a rough start on account of anticipated freezing rain and downtown Atlanta traffic jams, things quickly got back on track with Governor Deal's State of the State Address last Thursday. Soon after he finished speaking, Governor Deal released his budget recommendations for Amended Fiscal Year 2018 & Fiscal Year 2019.

As you can see below, Georgians with disabilities did fairly well. There is a large effort underway in Georgia to provide services to youth with autism. However, with almost 9,000 Georgians on the waiting list for NOW & COMP Waivers, we know that there is still much work to be done! Due in large part to our advocacy work last session, DBHDD has created a multi-year plan to address the waiting list for NOW & COMP Waivers. We are still waiting on the final details of the plan to inform our advocacy work and will share more in the next issue.

Click here for a refresher on GCDD's Legislative Priorities.

Budget Highlights: Amended Fiscal Year 2018 Budget

Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities:

  • $1,250,000 in additional funds for crisis services for children under 21 with autism
  • $1,153,042 in additional funds to develop capacity for behavioral health services for children under 21 with autism
  • Utilize $128,292 in existing funds for telehealth services and three positions for behavioral health services for children under age 21 with autism

Department of Community Health:

  • $1,043,766 in additional funds for electronic visit verification system for home and community based services
  • $1,118,589 in additional funds to develop capacity for behavioral health services for children under 21 with autism
  • Utilize $12,675 in existing funds for one program coordinator position for children under 21 with autism

Department of Public Health:

  • Utilize $159,105 in existing funds for telehealth infrastructure and one program support coordinator position to provide behavioral health services to children under 21 with autism
Budget Highlights: Fiscal Year 2019 Budget

Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities:

  • $3,138,073 in additional funds for 125 NOW/COMP waiver slots
  • $6,054,113 in additional funds to annualize the 250 NOW/COMP waiver slots added last year per the DOJ settlement extension
  • $5,922,917 in additional funds for crisis services for children under age 21 with autism
  • Utilize $266,119 in existing funds for telehealth services and three positions for behavioral health services for children under age 21 with autism

Department of Community Health:

  • $894,519 in additional funds for an electronic visit verification system for home and community based services
  • $847,962 in additional funds to develop capacity for behavioral health services for children under 21 with autism
  • Utilize $962,022 in existing funding to support increased background checks for owners and employees of long term care facilities
  • $50,700 in existing funds for one program coordinator position for children under 21 with autism

Department of Public Health:

  • $100,000 in additional funds to provide screening and therapy for children under 21 with autism
  • Utilize $50,700 in existing funds for one program support coordinator position for children under 21 with autism

Department of Education:

  • $3,992,201 reduction in funding for GNETS due to declining enrollment/training/experience
  • $1,006,233 in additional funds for Preschool Disabilities Services to reflect enrollment growth/training/experience
  • $501,254 in additional funds for State Schools for training and experience

What are my next advocacy steps?


Learn the Lingo


Fiscal Year:
Different from a calendar year, the fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. It is how the state organizes its finances.

Appropriations Committee: The group of legislators in charge of drafting the budget. The House and the Senate each have their own Appropriations Committee.

How does a bill become a law?


Around Town with UNLOCK!

Greetings fellow advocates and welcome to our first UNLOCK! article in Policy for the People! As we gear up for the 2018 legislative session, we want to stress the important first step in the advocacy process, knowing your state legislators. We each have 2 state legislators based on where we live, one in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate. They work for their constituents, meaning the people who live in the area where the legislator was elected. In order to help their communities, the legislators want and need to hear from those who live in those communities. That's you! Take a minute to click on the link provided below, insert your current home address in the space provided, and hit the search button to the right. Now that you know who your state legislators are, stay tuned for upcoming Unlock articles in Policy for the People for information and tips on how you can continue to advocate for what is important to you!


Who are my state legislators?

Other Days of Note:

Jan 24: Autism Advocacy Day with Spectrum
Jan 25: Insights Policy Conference with Georgia Budget & Policy Institute
Jan 31: Champions for Children with Independent Living Georgia
Feb 7 & 8: Senior Week with CO-AGE
Feb 8: Independent Living Day with the Statewide Independent Living Council
Feb 15: ICM Day with the Interfaith Children's Movement
Feb 26: Justice Day with the Georgia Justice Project

Public Policy for the People: 17 January 2017

public policy for the people header

Volume 3, Issue 2   •   2017 Legislative Session   •   17 January 2017

The Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Day has been rescheduled.
It is no longer January 18, but now February 1! See you there!

Looking Ahead

Plan to attend GCDD Advocacy Days. Register online at: bit.ly/2fRxoYX

  • Feb 1 – DD Waivers Advocacy Day 1 & Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Advocacy Day
  • Feb 7 – DD Waivers Advocacy Day 2
  • Feb 23 – Employment Advocacy Day
  • Feb 28 – Enable Work and Families Advocacy Day (Family Care Act, Peach Work, and Phillip Payne Personal Assistance Program)
  • March 9 – Home & Community Advocacy Day (Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry, People First Language, Residential Housing Study Committee, Transportation)

Our Partner's Advocacy Days (we share a common legislative goal)

  • Jan 26 - Be there for Seniors Day (GA Council on Aging) – Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry - DATE CHANGED
  • Feb 14 – Change the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disabilities in Capital Punishment Cases (PAPE Coalition and Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty)
  • Feb 15 – Senior Week (GA Council on Aging) – Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry
  • Feb 16 – Senior Week (GA Council on Aging) – Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry

Our Friend's Advocacy Days

  • Jan 25 - Sickle Cell Day (Sickle Cell Foundation of GA)
  • Jan 31 - Mental Health Day (GA Parent Support Network)
  • Feb 2 - Justice Day at the Capitol (GA Justice Project)
  • Feb 3 - Alzheimer's Awareness Day (Alzheimer's Association, GA Chapter)
  • Feb 8 - Stop Violence Against Women Day (GA Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
  • Feb 15 – Interfaith Children’s Movement Day at the Capitol
  • Feb 21 – Catholic Day at the Capitol 
  • Feb 22 – Easterseals Day at the Capitol
  • Feb 23 – Hemophilia of GA Day (Hemophilia of GA)
  • Feb 28 – Anti-Sex Trafficking Lobby Day (City of Refuge, Freedom Coalition, GA Cares, Haven ATL, Out of Darkness, Street Grace, United Way of Greater Atlanta, Wellspring Living)
  • Mar 9 – Lupus Awareness Day (Lupus Foundation of America, GA Chapter)
  • Mar 16 – Type 1 Diabetes Day (JRDF)

If you know of an Advocacy Day that our readers might be interested in learning about, please email Include your name, contact information, time, date, sponsoring organization, and summary of purpose for holding the event.

Other Events:

January 20 - DD Advisory Council Meeting (Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities), 10:00 am - 2:00 pm, 2 Peachtree Street NW, 24th Floor, Room 260, Atlanta, GA 30303

January 28 - Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Region 3 Advisory Council will be hosting a Community Education Forum at 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Mountain Park Activity Center located at 1063 Rockbridge Road SW in Stone Mountain, Georgia 30087.The purpose of the community forum is to educate the public about programs and services within their local communities and to gather input from the community stakeholders regarding issues of access to, and quality of services from contracted providers and its partners. Click here to learn more and register.

Celebration of Children Conference, sponsored by the Interfaith Children's Movement, will focus on improving the wellbeing of Georgia's children. This year's conference will be held on January 26, 2017 at Marietta First United Methodist Church from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Click here to learn more and register.

Keep up to date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357.
  • Join our Advocacy Network at bit.ly/GCDDAlerts
    To join you will need to provide an email address. When you sign up, be sure to select Public Policy Alerts and UNLOCK! alerts so you get the most up to date information. If you signed up last year, be sure to check and make sure your information is up to date. 
  • Read Public Policy for the People. Released every other Monday. - Jan 30, Feb 13, Feb 27, Mar 13, Mar 27

Learn the Lingotwo headed cow

  • A two headed cow? Not just something you will find in a sci-fi movie, but also on the fourth floor of the Capitol! Next time you come down to meet with your legislator, be sure to look near room 431.
  • Speaker of the House: The top position in the House of Representatives. Elected by fellow members, the Speaker has a lot of duties, some of which are calling bills up for discussion or vote, upholding the rules of the House, and calling on other members who want to speak or ask a question. The current Speaker is David Ralston of Blue Ridge, GA.
  • President of the Senate: The top position in the Senate, the President of the Senate is held by the Lieutenant Governor. Currently this is Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle. The Lieutenant Governor has many roles, but in terms of the Senate they preside over debate and oversee the movement of legislation. As he is not an elected member of the Senate, the President of the Senate cannot vote or sponsor legislation.

Be in the Know:

Brush up on GCDD’s 2017 Legislative Priorities

Despite the chilly weather that gripped much of the state, the legislative session kicked off January 9 as planned.

GCDD held its first Public Policy Phone Call, participated in UNLOCK! Day at the Capitol, attended House Appropriations Committee Meetings for both Health and Human Resources, and learned about the issues facing Georgia's healthcare system at Healthcare Unscrambled hosted by Georgians for a Healthy Future.

We also learned that Crossover Day has changed this year from the 30th legislative day to the 28th legislative day. What this means? Day 28 will now be the deadline for legislation to move from the House to the Senate, or vice versa. If it does not make this deadline, the bill is dead until next year.

The Family Care Act: We are very excited to announce that Senator Butch Miller will be sponsoring the Family Care Act this year! Remember, the Family Care Act would allow family members to use up to five days of their earned sick leave to care for a sick family member. Be sure to come out February 28 to show your support for the Family Care Act as they will be one of the participating organizations for GCDD Advocacy Days.

Quick Tip:  HB = House Bill    SB= Senate Bill

HB 16: Would revise the definition of bullying and harassment in elementary and secondary education. Of note, this would expand the definition to include bullying on the basis of disability. To read the full bill, click here.

HB 28: Requires the testing of drinking water for lead contamination in all public and private schools here in Georgia. If lead is found, the law requires a remediation plan to be implemented and alternate drinking sources to be provided to students and staff. To read the full bill, click here.

HB 65: Widens the criteria of who is allowed to use Low THC Oil, a form of medical marijuana, in Georgia, to include autism spectrum disorder, intractable pain, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Tourette's syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, and HIV/AIDS. Additionally, the bill would remove the one-year residency requirement and physician's quarterly reporting. To read the full bill, click here.

HR 36: This constitutional amendment would allow the production of cannabis in Georgia, as well as the sale of cannabis for those who meet the medical requirement. To read the full proposed amendment, click here.

SB 16: This would change the definition of "low THC oil" from 5% to 3% by weight, as well as add autism spectrum disorder to the medical conditionals eligible to use low TCH oil. To read the full bill, click here.

SB 8: "Surprise Billing and Consumer Protection Act" which would help protect consumers from unexpected out of network healthcare costs, among other things. To read the full bill, click here.

SB 12: This would allow dental hygienists to provide teeth cleanings in safety-net settings, such as a nursing home, senior center, or volunteer community health setting without a dentist being on site. The intent behind this bill is to make dental cleanings more accessible and affordable. To read the full bill, click here.

Governor's State of the State

Think the President's State of the Union, only Georgia focused. Governor Nathan Deal spoke before the General Assembly on Wednesday, January 11 for about an hour. To read the Governor's speech in full, click here.

Some highlights:

  • Georgia revenue (the pot of money that funds the government) is expected to grow 3.6% for FY18.
  • Law enforcement will now be trained "on how to safely handle situations involving those with mental impairment"
  • Teachers got a 3% increase for merit, recruitment, and retention, as well as a 2% salary increase.
  • Deal wishes "to enhance Medicaid and the State Health Benefit Plan to include the treatment of those diagnosed with autism up to age 21."
  • Recommends the expansion of behavioral and mental health coverage to children between birth and age 4 for Medicaid and PeachCare Members -allocating $2.5 million to make this happen.
  • Deal "cautions against taking giant leaps on healthcare policy until we know what Congress and the incoming administration will do."
    A 2% salary raise for state employees.
  • There was a major focus on children in failing schools. Despite Georgia residents voting against Governor Deal's Opportunity School District, the Governor is working with the Georgia General Assembly to come up with a new plan to address poor school performance.  
Budget 101: Governor's Recommendations

Every year the Governor puts out his budget recommendations for the upcoming year, in this case Fiscal Year 18 (FY 18 for short) which is from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. Legislators use the Governor's Recommendations as a starting point to suggest changes of their own. Eventually the House and Senate will come to agreement and pass the FY 18 Budget.

It is very long document and so we have pulled out some highlights for you. If you are feeling particularly brave today and want to explore Budget on your own, you can find it here.

Quick Tip: (p 101) stands for page 101 of the Budget in case you want to look for yourself

Let's focus first on GCDD's priority issues.

  • Inclusive Post-Secondary Education - No cuts but also no increase. If we want any additional funds for IPSE schools, we need to work for it through advocacy.
  • DD Waivers - No new funds for people in the community. No plan to deal with the 8,698 Georgians waiting desperately for a DD waiver. If we want to see any significant progress on the waiting list, we need to do some serious advocacy this session. GCDD is ready, are you?
    • Annualized 100 NOW waivers. $1,096,912 (p 101)
    • Annualized 250 NOW and Comp waivers per DOJ settlement to cover individuals coming out of institutions. $12,108,226 (p 100)
    • Additional 250 NOW and Comp waivers per DOJ settlement to cover individuals coming out of institutions. $6,054,113 (p 101)
  • $11,762,894 -Annualize the cost of a provider rate increase for COMP waiver programs (p 100)

Other areas of interest?

Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

  • $6,000,000 for one new Behavioral Health Crisis Center (p 101)

Department of Community Health

  • $1,377,969 to reduce the waiting list for Community Care Services Program Waiver (CCSP) (p 119)
  • $250,000 to increase funds for an adjustment to congregate and home delivered meal rates for Medicaid waivers for the elderly (p 119)
  • $20,766,592 in Tenet settlement agreement funds to cover Medicaid behavioral health services for children under 21 who are diagnosed with autism. (p 120) - We will let you know as we learn more what this will actually cover and look like.
  • $2,533,408 in Tenet settlement agreement funds for behavioral health services to children ages 0-4 on Medicaid (p 120)
  • State Health Benefit Plan
    • Increase funds to raise the five-year benefit limit for children's hearing aids from $3,000 to $6,000 (p 120)
    • Increase funds to reflect enrollment growth to match Medicaid age requirements for the treatment of autism spectrum disorders. (p 121)

Department of Human Services

  • $766,484 for 11 new adult protective services supervisors in the division of Elder Abuse Investigations and Prevention (p 194)

Department of Education (DOE)

  • A 2% pay raise for all public school teachers in the state of Georgia.
  • Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support(GNETS)
    • GNETS have seen a decrease in student enrollment. Instead of reallocating this money saved to the general pot, GNETs are using the money for staff training to improve instructional practices and for behavioral and therapeutic service contracts. (p 164)
  • Preschool Disabilities Services (services for 3 and 4 year olds)
    • $794,243 -increase funds for enrollment growth and training. (p 166)
  • $4,441,199 Increase in funds for the Special Needs Scholarship (helps support parent school choice) (p 167)

Governor's Budget Recommendations for Amended FY 17:
Additional 250 NOW and Comp waivers per DOJ settlement to cover individuals coming out of institutions. $6,054,113

Around Town with UNLOCK

Last week the UNLOCK! Coalition held UNLOCK! Day at the Capitol.

Representative Scott HiltonRepresentative Scott Hilton was one of many legislators who stopped by to learn about UNLOCK!'s mission and legislative priorities.UNLOCK Day at the CapitolUNLOCK! Coalition Organizer Stacey Ramirez of The Arc, joined by Dawn Johnson and Paige Kubik of the Frazier Center at UNLOCK! Day at the Capitol.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public Policy for the People: 26 February, 2018

 

public policy for the people enews

Volume 4, Issue 52018 Legislative Session February 26, 2018

Call to Action: Call your Senator & members of the Senate Human Development & Public Health Appropriations Subcommittee. Ask them to include $11.9 million in funding for 475 NOW/COMP waivers, as well as $4.8 million in supported employment services to DBHDD's FY 19 Budget.

Keep Up-To-Date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30 am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • Read upcoming Public Policy for the People newsletters: 3/12, 3/26

Who are my state legislators?


Looking Ahead

2018 GCDD Advocacy Days
Feb 28: UNLOCK! Coalition
Mar 15: Medicaid

Click here to register online!


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

The energy down here is palpable. Bills are flying off the printer, all the while amendments are being tacked on. With Crossover Day fast approaching this Wednesday, the flurry is only expected to get worse. Remember, if a bill does not pass out of its original chamber by Crossover Day, the bill has no chance of becoming law this year.

Since our last newsletter, GCDD has hosted two Advocacy Days over the past two weeks. One for Medicaid and one for Inclusive Post Secondary Education. We are constantly reminded of the importance of our advocacy when we meet people who are unfamiliar with the topic of the day. As always, we could not do it without the many advocates that travel from all over the state to speak with their legislators.

HB 831, Georgia's Employment First Act, passed out of the House Industry and Labor Committee last week. GCDD's Executive Director Eric Jacobson testified, as did many employers, employees with disabilities, GVRA, The Arc, and SPADD. It is now waiting in the Rules Committee, Remember, it must pass out of the Rules Committee and pass a floor vote in the House by the end of Wednesday to stand a chance of becoming law.

HB 768, sponsored by Representative Scott Hilton, was heard in the House Judiciary Non-Civil Setzler Subcommittee late in the day last Thursday. This bill looks at how difficult it is to prove you have an intellectual disability in capital punishment cases. GCDD's Public Policy Director testified in favor of the bill, as did many others. At the end of the multi-hour hearing, the committee chose not to call a vote on the bill, requiring more time to make amendments. On Friday afternoon, the sponsor of the bill presented an amendment to the subcommittee. At the time of publication, this issue continues to evolve. We will keep you updated as to HB 768's progress over the next week.

Regarding the money, the House and Senate have both passed the Amended Fiscal Year 18 Budget. The next stop for the Amended Budget is conference committee where the House and Senate will iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions. They have both moved on to the Fiscal Year 19 Budget. The Senate Appropriations Committee will be holding a Public Hearing this Tuesday, February 27th at 10:00 am in Room 450 of the Capitol Building. GCDD is looking for Georgians on the waiting list for NOW & COMP waivers willing to share their story. If you are interested in testifying, please contact Hanna Rosenfeld at 404.275.8119

The GA General Assembly has released their tentative calendarfor the the rest of session.

Need a quick refresher on GCDD's Legislative Priorities? Click here.


Learn the LingoThe Well: The podium at the front of the chamber where members go to speak to the whole chamber.

Veto: When the Governor formally rejects a bill that the General Assembly passes during the legislative session. The General Assembly can only over-ride the veto with a vote of two-thirds in each chamber.


Around Town with UNLOCK!

Welcome back policy advocates! We hope you enjoyed our previous UNLOCK! articles. We discussed how you can advocate for issues that are important to you, and now we wanted to share how UNLOCK! has used power in numbers to advocate this session. Sharing your story is important, and it can be even more powerful when we come together as a group to advocate for issues. Legislators will pay attention when a large group of people are working together to advocate for common concerns. UNLOCK! brings disability advocates from across Georgia together to support issues we all care so much about.

This session we have advocated for:

  • DD waivers
  • supported employment
  • inclusive post-secondary education programs
  • and many more important issues

As the session continues, we hope that you will join UNLOCK! to help individuals with disabilities and their families have the opportunity to live, work, and play in their communities.

Join us at our next Advocacy Day at the Gold Dome on February 28!

If you are interested in joining UNLOCK! Please click here to enter your information.

Also, if you have not already, please join the UNLOCK! Coalition, a partnership of powerful policy advocates and agencies, by clicking the link below to complete your membership. We hope to see you at the Gold Dome on February 14!


Some Bills to Watch:

HB 288: (Kirby) Creates penalties for using fake service animals, penalties for harming a service animal, and would allow the Department of Human Services to "authorize private service organizations... to create and issue information cards containing the department's seal" that explain the rights and penalties associated with service animals.

HB 482: (Trammel) Educational Scholarship Act - Allows parents to use the money the state would have spent on their child's public school education to pay for private school education.

HB 635: (Cooper) The Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act - creates an at-risk adult protective investigative/coordination team in each judicial circuit in Georgia to coordinate investigations of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of people with disabilities or the elderly.

HB 645: (Peake) To legalize possession of low THC oil and cultivation of cannabis for the production of low THC oil in the state of Georgia under certain conditions/medical conditions.

HB 668:(Price) Allows guardianship proceedings to begin when someone is 17 years old.

HB 669:(Trammel) Medicaid Expansion Bill.

HB 740: (Nix) Requires local school systems to conduct certain screenings before a student, in pre-K through third grade, can be expelled or suspended for more than five days. If a student has an IEP or Section 504 plan, the school will hold an IEP or Section 504 meting to review the supports currently being provided as part of their IEP or Section 504 Plan.

HB 759: (Turner) Relaxes regulations for the GA Special Needs Scholarship, to allow the children of active duty military service members stationed in GA within the previous year, or children that have previously qualified, be exempt from the requirement to have attended a public school in Georgia the prior year.

HB 776: (Douglas) The Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-term Care Facilities Act allows for the placement and use of electronic monitoring devices by the resident of a long term care facility (such as a any skilled nursing facility, intermediate care home, assisted living community, or personal care home) within their personal room.

HB 801: (Hilton) Allows the GA Special Needs Scholarship to cover services, therapies, and other materials, as opposed to only tuition.

HB 803: (Willard) Prohibits the trafficking of an adult with a disability.

HB 844: (Houston) Revises provisions of the GA Commission on Hearing Impaired and Deaf Persons, specifically around membership of commission, as well as creates a multi-agency task force to provide recommendations for improvements to the GA General Assembly and the Governor.

HB 853: (Dempsey) Quality Basic Education Act; children placed in psychiatric residential treatment facilities may not be charged tuition; pprovide for eligibility for enrollment; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

HB 891: (Gilliard) States that the Department of Human Services, the courts, or a child placing agency cannot deny someone child placement, child custody, visitation, guardianship, or adoption solely or primarily because the individual is blind.

HR 1257: Creates the House Study Committee on the Workforce Shortage and Crisis in Home and Community Based Settings

SB 118: (Unterman) Raises the age limit to age 12 for coverage of autism services under private insurance policies.

SB 322: (James) Requires non-electric personal assistive mobility devices to have front and rear reflectors when used on highways or sidewalks, as well as all electric and nonelectric personal assistive devices sold after December 31, 2018 to have reflectors.

SB 357: (Burke) Creates the Health Coordination and Innovation Council of the State of Georgia, a recommendation of the Lt. Governor Cagle's Health Care Reform Task Force.

SB 406: (Strickland) The Georgia Long-term Care Background Check Program establishes minimum standards for conducting criminal background checks of owners, applicants for employment, and direct access employees at facilities such as a personal care home, assistive living community, private home care provider, home health agency, provider of hospice care, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, intermediate care home, or adult day care facility.

SB 408: (Jackson) Allows for individuals with autism to request a psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health counselor, special education instructor, clinical social worker, or any other mental or behavioral health professional be present at an interview by a local law enforcement officer.

SR 467: (Unterman) Creates a Senate Study Committee on Service Animals for Physically or Mentally Impaired Persons

SR 506: (Dugan) A RESOLUTION creating the Senate Study Committee on the Excessive and Duplicative Regulatory Oversight of Community Based Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Services.

SR 593: (Seay) A RESOLUTION urging the United States Congress to establish a policy whereby public facilities shall be required to provide adult changing stations.


Other Days of Note:

Feb 26: Justice Day with the Georgia Justice Project
Mar 1: Housing Day at the Capitol with Housing Georgia

Public Policy for the People: 26 March 2018

 

public policy for the people enews

Volume 4, Issue 72018 Legislative Session March 26, 2018

Call to Action:Please call your State Representative and tell them why HR 1257 is needed to help study the problem of why Georgians with disabilities cannot find and retain qualified caregivers.

Keep Up-To-Date: IMPORTANT UPDATE

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30 am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • NOTE: With the close of the 2018 Legislative Session fast approaching, we will stop publishing the legislative edition of Public Policy for the People on a bi-monthly basis, instead returning to our regular quarterly schedule. Keep an eye out for the Spring edition of Making A Difference Magazine for our Legislative Wrap Up article.

Who are my state legislators?


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

GCDD is saddened by the passing of former Georgia Governor Zell Miller. He will always be remembered for his belief in the power of education, most evident through his creation of the HOPE Scholarship Program. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in this trying time.

As of right now, the legislative session is scheduled to end this Thursday. Indeed, Day 39 is tomorrow, March 27th and Day 40 is March 29th.

A few updates:

SB 406, Georgia's Long-term Care Background Check Program, an initiative of the Georgia Council on Aging, has been passed by the Senate and the House. Due to a small change in the House, the bill must return to the Senate for a final vote. his is a great first step and GCDD looks forward to working with DCH to expand the program to include more individuals that are served in home and community based services.

HB 831, Georgia's Employment First Act, has been passed by the House and Senate. It now sits on the Governor's desk awaiting his signature. Remember, this bill creates an Employment First Council in Georgia to advise the Governor and General Assembly on future steps to move Georgia closer to an employment first state.

HB 803, sponsored by Representative Willard, passed out of committee last week. This bill defines the human trafficking of an adult with a disability or the elderly as a felony. It is currently waiting in the Rules Committee, where it must first be voted out before it can reach the Senate for a floor vote.

"The Disabled Adults and Elder Person's Protection Act," sponsored by Representative Sharon Cooper has had an interesting path this legislative session. As a quick reminder, this bill would create multi agency teams established in each judicial circuit to investigate adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The bill now has two versions, SB 202 and HB 635. Both now await a vote in the Senate next week. The reason there are two versions of the bill is because HB 635 was the original bill, and SB 202 was a bill that was gutted and all text replaced by "The Disabled Adults and Elder Person's Protection Act."

HB 65, which would create a Joint Study Commission on THC Medical Oil Access to study in-state access to medical cannabis and THC oil, passed the the Senate on Friday. Due to an amendment in the Senate, HB 65 will need to go back to the House for a vote before Sine Die.

HR 1257, sponsored by Representative Petrea, would create the House Study Committee on the Workforce Shortage and Crisis in Home and Community Based Settings. It is currently waiting in the Rules Committee where it must first be voted out, before it can be scheduled for a vote in the House. If you have not already done so, please call your State Representative and explain to them why HR 1257 is needed to help study the problem of why Georgians with disabilities cannot find and retain qualified caregivers.

SB 118, sponsored by Senator Unterman would raise the age limit to 20 for coverage of autism services under private insurance policies has passed the House. Due to a substitute in the House, it will need to return to the Senate for a vote before Sine Die.

HB 891, carried by Representative Gilliard, received a hearing last week in the House Judiciary - Civil - Kelley Subcommittee. Despite not making Crossover Day, advocates had the opportunity to educate the committee on the need for such a bill to ensure parents who are visually impaired or blind are not discriminated against in matters of child custody, guardianship, placement, or adoption. We look forward to seeing this bill re-introduced next year.

FY 19 Budget:The Senate has passed their own version of the Fiscal Year 19 Budget.

A few highlights from the Senate Version that differed from the House version of the FY 19 Budget:

  • The Albany Advocacy Resource Center received an increase of $220,000
  • The Matthew Reardon Center for Autism received an increase of $200,000
  • The Statewide Independent Living Council received an increase of $100,000 for home access modifications
  • A four percent increase in reimbursement rates for autism services statewide - $681,493
  • Increase in funds for a state hub geographically located to provide outreach and services to support independent living for citizens with disabilities in southwest Georgia - $100,000 (The House had put in $200,000, the Senate reduced to $100,000)
  • Funds for Friends of Disabled Adults and Children Equipment received an increase of $20,000
  • Funds to increase the occupational, speech, and physical therapy rates in the Babies Can't Wait program - $1,103,716 (House previously had included an increase of $551,858)
  • Transfer funds from Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency: Vocational Rehabilitation Program to the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities to provide ongoing support and scholarships for the Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Program - $500,000

The House and Senate have now entered Conference Committee to come to some agreement over their differences. With Sine Die this Thursday, we should not have to wait long for the final version of the FY 19 Budget.

Need a quick refresher on GCDD's Legislative Priorities? Click here.


Learn the Lingo

SINE DIE:
The last day of the Georgia General Assembly's legislative session.


Around Town with UNLOCK!

We have had a great time learning together about the legislative process through the UNLOCK! articles. Throughout the legislative session, we looked up your Legislators on openstates.org then discussed how to contact them. We learned how to share our story while meeting with those legislators then looked at how a bill becomes a law. Now, as we leave the state legislative session, we want to look ahead to next year. It is very important that everyone is registered to vote and gets involved with Rev Up Georgia.

To register to vote, click here.

To find out who is running in your district, click here.

To get involved with Rev Up, click here:

Join the UNLOCK Coalition Here


Some Bills to Watch:

HB 668: (Price) Allows guardianship proceedings to begin when someone is 17 years old. (Senate Rules Committee)

HB 759: (Turner) Relaxes regulations for the GA Special Needs Scholarship, to allow the children of active duty military service members stationed in GA within the previous year, or children that have previously qualified, be exempt from the requirement to have attended a public school in Georgia the prior year. (Senate Education & Youth Committee)

HB 853: (Dempsey) Quality Basic Education Act; children placed in psychiatric residential treatment facilities may not be charged tuition (Senate Education & Youth Committee)

SR 467: (Unterman) Creates a Senate Study Committee on Service Animals for Physically or Mentally Impaired Persons (Senate Rules)

SR 593: (Seay) A RESOLUTION urging the United States Congress to establish a policy whereby public facilities shall be required to provide adult changing stations. (Senate Rules)

SR 506: (Dugan) A RESOLUTION creating the Senate Study Committee on the Excessive and Duplicative Regulatory Oversight of Community Based Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Services. (Senate Rules)

Public Policy for the People: 27 February 2017

public policy for the people enews

Volume 3, Issue 5   •   2017 Legislative Session   •   27 February 2017

Let's get to work. Pick up the phone and call your Senator and Representative tomorrow! There is no time to waste and this will only take a moment!

Ponders by Phillip:

Phillip ModesittHow was Advocacy Day?

I was at the Capitol for Advocacy Day. Advocacy Day at the Capitol is where a bunch of students get together from Inclusive Post-Secondary Programs, like the one here at Kennesaw State University, to talk with legislators. I talked with legislators about what it means to have a disability. I also talked with all of the legislators about what it means to live in a university wide Residential Community. It means you get to socialize with other people of my age. I thought the day went pretty well and I would want to go to the Capitol for Advocacy Day again next year.

What is your goal for when you graduate?

My goal is to get a real paying job after I graduate. I would like to work at Must Ministries and Sparkles Roller Skating Rink. I would like to work at Sparkles Roller Skating Rink so I could be a D.J. and remix all the songs. I would like to work at Must Ministries because it is my passion and I would like to stock all the shelves and help the customers.

Working is important to me because I want to get a real paying job. It would give me more independence and it would also teach me time management. It would also give me the skills that I need to pursue a career like this after I graduate.

Having an internship here at Kennesaw State University's Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth has helped me with this process of getting a real paying job after I graduate by teaching me the skills and giving me the experience I will need. Having an internship at the Georgia Council and Developmental Disabilities has taught me the experience I need to interact with my coworkers and it also has taught me to interact professionally and how important being on time is.

Looking Ahead

Today is Day 25 in the Georgia General Assembly and everyone is in a mad dash to get their bill passed before Crossover Day this Friday. If a bill does not move from its original chamber into the other chamber by Friday it is dead until next year.

But first the Big Budget for Fiscal Year 2018. The House passed their version of the Budget on February 16. Of note, there were no new DD waivers added besides the 250 recommended by the Governor as required by the Department of Justice Settlement Agreement. Remember, these waivers are mostly to move people out of the state hospitals. While a very important goal, this will not make a dent in the 8,688 Georgians waiting for a DD Waiver.

There was some exciting news in the world of Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) though. Simply put, IPSE got a big raise. Let me explain, up until this point, the IPSE funding of $200,000 from the Georgia General Assembly was funneled through GCDD. The House recommended that $25,000 stay with GCDD to provide technical assistance and the remaining $175,000 will move to the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA). The House also recommended an increase of $325,000 in state dollars for IPSE. GVRA is one of those agencies that has a fabulous federal match, meaning for every $1 Georgia spends, the federal government kicks in $4. So the $500,000 in state dollars allocated for IPSE could total up to $2.5 million after the federal match. This money is earmarked both for scholarships and operating expenses of the IPSE programs.

While you should definitely pat yourself on the back for your awesome advocating which resulted in this increase for IPSE funding, there is still a lot of work to do so please don't get too comfortable. We need your help to advocate for more DD Waiver funding while the Senate is still deciding. Please call your Senator tomorrow, February 28th!

 
Calling Senator Renee Unterman: (404) 463-1368

Hello my name is _(your name)______.

I am calling to tell you we need more DD waivers because we have almost 9,000 people on the waiting list. We need you to add $12.1 million for 6 months of funding for more DD Waivers.

Also, please keep the House's increase in funds for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education.

Thank you.

 

 
Calling Senator Jack Hill: (404) 656-5038

Hello my name is _(your name)______.

I am calling to tell you we need more DD waivers because we have almost 9,000 people on the waiting list. We need you to add $12.1 million for 6 months of funding for more DD Waivers.

Also, please keep the House's increase in funds for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education.

Thank you.

 

 
Calling your Senator:

Hello my name is _(your name)______.

I am your constituent. I live in _(insert city or town)___

I am calling to tell you we need more DD waiversbecause we have almost 9,000 people on the waiting list.

Please tell Senator Unterman to add

1.  $12.1 million for 6 months of funding for more DD Waivers

2.  Also, please keep the House's increase in funds for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education.

Thank you.

       Go to openstates.org to find out who your Senator is.

The Family Care Act, SB 201, would allow employees to use up to five days of their earned sick leave to care for a loved one. This would only apply to employees that work at least 30 hours a week at a business that employees over 25 people and already offers sick leave. The author of the Family Care Act, Senator Butch Miller, worked very hard on the version that passed the Senate, taking input from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and included their requested changes and additions to the bill. SB 201 passed the Senate this morning with a vote of 41 Yea, 10 Nay, and 1 Senator that did not vote. It will now move on to the House of Representatives. We need you to call your Representative today and tell them you support SB 201, the Family Care Act.

Another bill we care a lot about is HB 343, which would update Georgia code to replace the offensive 'MR word' with 'intellectual disability.' This bill is sponsored by freshmen Representative and Parent Advocate Scott Hilton. HB 343 unanimously passed the House this morning. It is now on to the Senate, which means we need you to call your Senator and tell them you support HB 343.

Lastly, SB 193, Changing the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disability, which is sponsored by Senator Elena Parent, has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but has not been scheduled for a hearing. With Crossover Day coming up, we are running out of time. We need you to call the Senate Judiciary Committee and tell them to schedule SB 193 for a hearing before Crossover Day.

Senator Jesse Stone: (404) 463-1314

Senator Bill Cowsert: (404) 463-1366

Senator Blake Tillery: (404) 656-0089

Senator Hunter Hill: (404) 463-2518

Senator John F Kennedy: (404) 656-0045

Senator William Ligon Jr.: (404) 463-1383

Senator Joshua McKoon: (404) 463-3931

Senator Curt Thompson: (404) 463-1318

Senator Greg Kirk: (404) 463-5258

Senator Harold Jones II: (404) 463-3942

 
Calling the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee:

Hello my name is _(your name)______.

I am calling to tell you that I support SB 193 because it would change the standard to prove intellectual disabilities in Capital Cases and protect Georgians with intellectual disabilities from being executed for the crimes. We need you to schedule a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee before Crossover Day.

Thank you.

Other news, GCDD had a very successful advocacy day last Thursday. Advocates from all over Georgia came together to talk with their legislators about Employment. Extra exciting was the two groups of high school students who came to advocate for their futures. We hope in the future to see more student groups involved. We also want to give a big thanks to retired Congressman Tony Coelho, father of the Americans with Disabilities Act, who came and spoke with our advocates and addressed the Senate at the invitation of the ever supportive Senator Butch Miller.

Looking Ahead

Plan to attend GCDD Advocacy Days. Register online at: bit.ly/2fRxoYX

  • Feb 28 – Enable Work and Families Advocacy Day (Family Care Act, Peach Work, and Phillip Payne Personal Assistance Program)
  • March 9 – Home & Community Advocacy Day (Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry, People First Language, Residential Housing Study Committee, Transportation)

Our Friend's Advocacy Days

Other Events


NOW Waiver Public Forum:
As some of you may know, the NOW waiver is up for renewal in September of 2017. The Department of Community Health and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, will be holding public forums to allow advocates such as ourselves to make recommendations for how the NOW waiver could be improved. To register to click here. It is very important that advocates show up and voice their opinions.

  • March 1 - 1:00 to 3:00pm at University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center, Tifton
  • March 6 - 7:00 to 8:00pm (Virtual Forum)
  • March 8 - 1:00 to 3:00pm at Clarence Brown Conference Center, Cartersville
  • March 9 - 11:00am to Noon (Virtual Forum)
  • March 13 - 1:00 to 3:00pm at Gwinnett Tech/Busbee Center, Lawrenceville

Keep Up to Date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357.
  • Join our Advocacy Network at bit.ly/GCDDAlerts
    To join you will need to provide an email address. When you sign up, be sure to select Public Policy Alerts and UNLOCK! alerts so you get the most up to date information. If you signed up last year, be sure to check and make sure your information is up to date. 
  • Read Public Policy for the People. Released every other Monday. - Mar 13, Mar 27

Learn the Lingo

Sine Die: Some of you may recognize this as a repeat from our Legislative Primer, but in case you missed that issue let us take a moment to review this very important term. Sine Die is Latin for "without day." In Georgia, sine die refers to Day 40 which is the last day of session. This year, sine die will be on March 30. This is the last day a bill can pass, otherwise it must wait until the next year. Fun Fact: legislators celebrate by throwing paper up in the air - similar to the last day of school.

New Bills to Watch

As always, for a complete list of bills we are tracking, click here.

SB 237: Would require motorized wheelchairs and scooters sold in Georgia to have reflectors. (Donzella James).
HB 486: Proxy Caregivers: Would allow non-medical professionals to train proxy caregivers to perform health maintenance activities for disabled individuals.

Quick Tip:  HB = House Bill    SB= Senate Bil

Public Policy for the People: 27 March 2017

public policy for the people enews

Volume 3, Issue 7   •   2017 Legislative Session   •   27 March 2017

Call your State Senator and tell them to vote yes on HB343.

Next week we will release our Post-Legislative Wrap Up Edition.

Stay tuned for date & time of our Legislative Wrap Up Phone Call.

Ponders by Phillip:

Phillip Modesitt

Good public transportation means people can get somewhere safe and sound. Good transportation also means that it does not limit them to where they can go. Good public transportation is important to me because people with disabilities need good public transportation that is accessible to all. Good public transportation also means I can get to where I need to go because what if I lived in Buckhead and needed to get to school or work in Kennesaw, I would need to take accessible transportation. Good transportation needs to be reliable because people with disabilities need to get to school and work on time.  

Bad transportation really affects people because many rely on it to live their everyday lives. I think there are some ways that transportation could be improved. For instance, I think there could be a lot more buses, which would help reduce travel time and not run into any travel snags. I would also like to ensure that all buses are handicap accessible so that no one is excluded.

– Phillip James Modesitt

I recently asked Phillip why transportation is so important. Drew Walker, of American Wheelchair Society, is working to form a Transportation Coalition here in Georgia. If you are interested in joining the transportation coalition, you can contact Drew at 404.919.6178 or

Be in the Know: Only 2 legislative days to go

Only two days to go until the 2017 Legislative Session comes to an end for the 2017 year. Midnight on Thursday will see the gavel fall for the last time this year. Bleary eyed legislators, lobbyists, and staffers will say goodbye to the Gold Dome and head back to their Georgia homes, whether that be Tifton, Valdosta, or Blue Ridge.
In the past two weeks, the General Assembly has passed countless bills, eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches courtesy of the GA Peanut Commission celebrating Peanut Butter and Jelly Day at the Capitol, and dealt with a lockdown of the Gold Dome due to suspicious green goo.

FY 2018 Big Budget.Status: Waiting for the Governor's signature. Conference Committee ended on March 22, producing a budget that the House and Senate can both agree on it. The Senate and House have both voted and passed the Conference Budget. It now awaits the Governor's signature. Governor Deal has 40 days after Sine Die to act on the budget (May 9). Remember Governor Deal has the power of line item veto. Of note:

  • Inclusive Post-Secondary Education: The House had recommended transferring $175,000 out of GCDD's budget to GVRA to support Inclusive Post Secondary Education, allowing the money to take advantage of GVRA's 4:1 federal match. The Senate recommended that the amount transferred decrease to $125,000. Conference committee decided upon $175,00 being transferred from GCDD to GVRA. Exciting bit, the language around the number of scholarship was removed. In sum, total IPSE funding going to GVRA is $500,000 which may allow for a total up to $2.5 million, including federal draw down.

    • Of note, language was added attached to this item, stating GCDD will "recognize Memorandum of Understanding with GVRA to maintain council's active participation in the IPSE partnership."

  • Some language was added in DBHDD's section, stating "the department shall develop and report to the Georgia General Assembly on a multi-year plan to reduce and eliminate the waiting list for NOW and COMP waivers with yearly outcome measures by December 31, 2017."

The Family Care Act, SB 201, passed the House March 22 with a vote of 114 Yay, 51 Nay, 5 NV, and 10 Exc. Due to SB 201 having an amendment in the House, it will need to go back to the Senate for a vote of Agree/Disagree. While this is exciting news, GCDD will not relax until SB 201 is signed into law by the Governor.

HB 343, updating Georgia Code to reflect intellectual disability instead of the offensive MR language, cleared Rules Committee this afternoon. Thank you to everyone who took time to call their Senators. Remember, HB 343 must still have a full Floor Vote in the Senate before returning to the House for a vote of Agree/Disagree due to a change made, before it will finally make its way to the Governor's desk.

GCDD hosted a webinar two weeks ago to discuss the impact of the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) currently being discussed in Congress. We had 197 people on the webinar, learning how block grants and per capita caps would be detrimental to Georgia. We were thrilled with the high level of participation and great questions that were asked. We hope to host more webinars in the future. Please send us any suggestions you have for future topics.

GCDD sent a group of Council Members and staff to Washington DC last week for the 2017 Disability Policy Seminar. While in Washington DC, the Georgia group attended sessions to learn more about the policy issues facing Americans with disabilities, as well as spent time in the US Capitol Building meeting with US Representatives and US Senators from Georgia. GCDD spoke about their concerns over the proposed healthcare changes found in the American Health Care Act (AHCA), especially around the Medicaid cuts caused by block grants/per capita caps. If you want to learn more about how the AHCA would impact Georgians with disabilities, visit http://medicaid.publicrep.org/, http://medicaid.publicrep.org/feature/georgia/, https://t.co/HLbadB9lj4 or http://www.c-c-d.org/. It is thanks to advocates such as yourself that Congress has chosen not to hold a vote on the American Health Care Act. Despite winning this round, we will be watching the federal healthcare landscape closely in the coming year.

Finally, GCDD joined with parent advocates last Friday at an event hosted by Representative Valencia Stovall to discuss HB 614, the Landon Dunson Act, which passed last year and allows for cameras to be placed in self-contained special needs classrooms in Georgia. Importantly, HB 614 does not require schools to put cameras in place, but does create a system by which they can be utilized. Representative Stovall and parents met to discuss how parents can better advocate for cameras to be placed in their children's self-contained classrooms. As one parent said, it's not just about keeping children from being abused, but also for keeping teachers from being falsely accused. We look forward to working with parents from the around the state in raising their voices in their local school districts.

Learn the Lingo

40 days: It will come as no shock to you, our readers, to know that Georgia's legislative session only lasts for 40 days. They can be continuous or spread out, but they will only meet officially for 40 day each year. Of course, the Governor can call a special session, but that rarely happens.  By only meeting for 40 legislative days, GA legislators can maintain jobs outside of the session. This is much harder to do when you meet continuously throughout the year, such as in the US Congress.

Public Policy for the People: 28 January, 2018

 

public policy for the people enews

Volume 4, Issue 32018 Legislative Session January 28, 2018

Call to Action: Call your State Rep. Ask them to support the Governor's rec. for 125 new NOW/COMP waivers,and then ask for an additional 475 waivers for a total of 600 new NOW/COMP waiver slots.

Keep Up-To-Date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30 am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • Read upcoming Public Policy for the People newsletters: 2/12, 2/26, 3/12, 3/26

Who are my state legislators?


Looking Ahead

2018 GCDD Advocacy Days
Jan 31: Employment
Feb 14: Medicaid
Feb 22: Inclusive Post-Secondary Education
Feb 15: UNLOCK! Coalition
Mar 15: Medicaid

Click here to register online!


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

What a wild two weeks under the Gold Dome! With snow, budget hearings, and advocacy days - GCDD's Public Policy Team has been quite busy.

GCDD held its very first Advocacy Day of 2018, focusing on DD Waivers. Despite some minor technical difficulties with our Facebook live stream, the day was a huge success. We hope you will register for some of our upcoming advocacy days.

We also ran into advocates at the following events: Spectrum Day, Mental Health Day, and Sickle Cell Day. Its always so nice to see other friendly faces down at the Capitol.

DBHDD also released their Planning List Report: Multi Year Plan in response to the budget language we all advocated for last year. One key point is DBHDD has suggested serving 600 new NOW/COMP waiver participants in Year 1, but has only asked for 125 new NOW/COMP waivers (also the Governor's recommendations). With the House of Representative's Appropriations Committees holding budget hearings at the moment, now is the time to make your voice heard! Be sure you have called your Representative to ask them to support the Governor's recommendation for 125 new NOW/COMP waivers, and then ask for an additional 475 waivers for a total of 600 new NOW/COMP waiver slots. Put in in your address to find out who your member in the House of Representatives at openstates.org

Both the House and the Senate have service animal bills now. The House bill, HB 288 would create penalties for using fake service animals, penalties for harming a service animal, and would allow the Department of Human Services to "authorize private service organizations...to create and issue information cards containing the department's seal" that explain the rights and penalties associated with service animals. The Senate version, SR 467 would simply create a study committee to explore the problem. See GCDD's Public Policy Director talking about the issue here.

Other things of note, GCDD attended the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute's Insights Conference. There we learned about "A People First Economic Vision for Georgia," GBPI's vision for Georgia's future. We encourage you to check it out.

Voices for Georgia's Children just released their Child Behavioral Health Workforce Analysis. Click here for the full report and here for the fact sheet.

The GA General Assembly also released their tentative calendar for the the rest of session.

Need a quick refresher on GCDD's Legislative Priorities? Click here.


Learn the LingoSine Die: Referring to the 40th Legislative Day, tentatively March 29th this year, Sine Die is the last day of the Georgia General Assembly. This means it is the last day a bill can pass and be sent to the Governor for signature.

Crossover Day: Always taking place on the 28th Legislative Day, tentatively February 28th this year, of the the GA General Assembly, Crossover Day is the deadline for legislation to move from the House to the Senate, or vice versa. If it does not make this deadline, the bill is dead.


Around Town with UNLOCK!

Welcome back policy advocates! We hope you took advantage of the information shared in our first UNLOCK! article. We shared the website, openstates.org, to help you find your legislator and their contact information.

Now, we encourage you to reach out and introduce yourself to your State Senator and State Representative. One terrific way to make this contact is by leaving a message with their office assistants. You can also ask for a meeting at their office if you need time for a longer conversation. Or - you can try "working the ropes" at the Capitol for a short conversation about a specific state legislative issue. Most of us have never heard of "the ropes", so here is a brief description:

  • The Senate and the House have “Chambers” on opposite sides of the 3rd floor of the State Capitol which are large meeting rooms where they come together, usually between 10am-noon on legislative days, to debate issues and discuss bills.
  • Just outside the doors of each chamber are red velvet ropes. Legislators are asked to leave the chamber to meet with advocates, lobbyists, and – YOU – their constituent at these ropes.
  • To make this happen, fill out a small form (white for the House and yellow for the Senate) with your legislator's name, your name, and what you would like to discuss. Be sure to include that you are a constituent!
  • Hand that sheet to one of the women located at the desk near the Chamber doors. They will hand the sheet to a Page who is then responsible for going into the Chamber to locate your legislator.
  • The legislator, if able, comes out to meet with you. She/he stands on the inside while you stay on the outside of the red velvet ropes.
  • This is your opportunity to briefly discuss an issue that matters to you. You will have about 2 to 3 minutes to discuss a focused, state legislative issue with your legislator.

Working the ropes can seem confusing the first time you try, but it gets easier with practice! If you would like additional training on working the ropes, please join us at the next GCDD Advocacy Day on Wednesday, January 31.

Also, join the UNLOCK! Coalition, a partnership of powerful policy advocates and agencies, by clicking the link below to complete your membership. Join us for our next article to learn about sharing your story. We hope to see you at the Gold Dome on January 31!

Vote on UNLOCK! Agenda Here!


Some Bills to Watch:

HB 668:(Price) Allows guardianship proceedings to begin when someone is 17 years old.

HB 635: (Cooper) Creates an at-risk adult protective investigative/coordination team in each judicial circuit in Georgia to coordinate investigations of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of people with disabilities or the elderly.

SB 322: (James) Requires nonelectric personal assistive mobility devices to have front and rear reflectors when used on highways or sidewalks, as well as all electric and nonelectric personal assistive devices sold after December 31, 2018 to have reflectors.

SB 357: (Burke) Creates the Health Coordination and Innovation Council of the State of Georgia, a recommendation of the Lt. Governor Cagle's Health Care Reform Task Force.

SR 593: (Seay) A RESOLUTION urging the United States Congress to establish a policy whereby public facilities shall be required to provide adult changing stations.

SR 506: (Dugan) A RESOLUTION creating the Senate Study Committee on the Excessive and Duplicative Regulatory Oversight of Community Based Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Services.

HB 663: (Bennett) Hate Crime Legislation.

HB 660: (Hanson) Hate Crime Legislation.

SB 316: (Jackson) Hate Crime Legislation.

HB 669: (Trammel) Medicaid Expansion Bill.

HB 160: (Tanner) Creates the Georgia Commission on Transit Governance and Funding.

SB 118: (Unterman) Change the age limit in private health care plan's coverage of autism to age 21.

HB 645: (Peake) To legalize possession of low THC oil and cultivation of cannabis for the production of low THC oil in the state of Georgia under certain conditions/medical conditions.

HB 482: (Trammel) Educational Scholarship Act - Allows parents to use the money the state would have spent on their child's public school education to pay for private school education.


Other Days of Note:

Jan 31: Champions for Children with Independent Living Georgia
Feb 7 & 8: Senior Week with CO-AGE
Feb 8: Independent Living Day with the Statewide Independent Living Council
Feb 15: ICM Day with the Interfaith Children's Movement
Feb 26: Justice Day with the Georgia Justice Project

Public Policy for the People: 30 January 2017

public policy for the people header

Volume 3, Issue 3   •   2017 Legislative Session   •   30 January 2017

Today is Day 9 of the Georgia General Assembly. Plan to attend GCDD's Advocacy Day this Wednesday, Feb 1, to talk with your legislator about increasing funding for more DD waivers and for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education.

To all of our amazing advocates,

We at GCDD want to apologize for the confusion and inconvenience this morning. Due to technical difficulties, we were unable to use our conference call line for our weekly Monday morning Public Policy Call at 9:30am.

At this time, we have decided to simply wait until next week's Monday morning Public Policy phone call and not reschedule this week's call.

We hope you will give us another chance and join us next Monday, February 6 at 9:30am. We realize that one of the benefits of the call is creating a space to learn, ask questions, and discuss what is happening under the Gold Dome. Should you have any questions or want to speak more about anything covered in this issue, feel free to reach out to us.

Thank you,

Dawn Alford , & Hanna Rosenfeld,

The Advocates CornerPhillip Modesitt

Hello, my name is Phillip Modesitt and I am a student with a disability called Cerebral Palsy and Diabetes. I am 27 years old and I am from Atlanta, Georgia. I am also enrolled in a program called the Kennesaw State University Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth.

The issues that I face related to getting a good education, that I so well deserve, is increased funding for the Inclusive Post-Secondary education programs. I want increased funding because I want to get a really good education. It is important that I get a good quality education because I learn better that way. It is also important to me because it will be something that benefits me for the rest of my life.

A fun fact that I want to include is the first Georgia State Capitol Building in Atlanta used to be the Kimball Opera House. The Georgia General Assembly used it from 1869 to 1889. I am thankful for this opportunity to write about myself and the issues that I am passionate about.

To learn more about GCDD's budget ASK for the Inclusive Post-Secondary education programs, such as the one Phillip attends at KSU, click here and scroll down to "Support Students to Attend Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Programs in Georgia"

Looking Ahead

Plan to attend GCDD Advocacy Days. Register online at: bit.ly/2fRxoYX

  • Feb 1 – DD Waivers Advocacy Day 1 & Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Advocacy Day
  • Feb 7 – DD Waivers Advocacy Day 2
  • Feb 23 – Employment Advocacy Day
  • Feb 28 – Enable Work and Families Advocacy Day (Family Care Act, Peach Work, and Phillip Payne Personal Assistance Program)
  • March 9 – Home & Community Advocacy Day (Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry, People First Language, Residential Housing Study Committee, Transportation)

Our Partner's Advocacy Days (we share a common legislative goal)

Our Friend's Advocacy Days

If you know of an Advocacy Day that our readers might be interested in learning about, please email Include your name, contact information, time, date, sponsoring organization, and summary of purpose for holding the event.

Keep up to date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357.
  • Join our Advocacy Network at bit.ly/GCDDAlerts
    To join you will need to provide an email address. When you sign up, be sure to select Public Policy Alerts and UNLOCK! alerts so you get the most up to date information. If you signed up last year, be sure to check and make sure your information is up to date. 
  • Read Public Policy for the People. Released every other Monday. - Feb 13, Feb 27, Mar 13, Mar 27

Learn the Lingo

  • In the Hopper?? A funny name for the place where legislators place their bills when they are ready to introduce them.
  • The Well? We haven't traveled back in time and I promise the water fountains in the Capitol are still working. "The Well" is the traditional name for the area at the front of the chamber containing the lectern or podium from which legislators address the full house during debate. The phrase "to take the well" means to come forward to speak to the full body after being recognized by the presiding officer for that purpose. With 180 members of the GA House of Representatives and 56 in the Senate, The Well helps keep order in the room.
  • CLOB? Not as weird as it sounds. CLOB for the Coverdell Legislative Office Building. That is quite a mouthful and so is affectionately referred to as CLOB instead. It is right across the street from the Capitol and is home to many legislator's offices. As the number of legislators has grown, they no longer all fit in the Capitol.

Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

Today marks Day 9 of the 2017 General Assembly. Only 31 days to go before the gavel falls for the last time in 2017! Of course those 31 days will likely be spread out, meaning we will likely be in session until March at least!

Since we last spoke, GCDD has been very busy. Every day brings another committee meeting or legislator to speak with down at the Capitol. If you are ever curious, I encourage you to come down and sit in on a committee hearing. It is really quite something watching Georgia's government at work. If you want some company, feel free to reach out to GCDD's Public Policy Team and see where we will be -the more the merrier. To find out when committee meetings are, go to bit.ly/GAHouseMeetings and bit.ly/GASenateMeetings.

The Amended Fiscal Year 2017 Budget was passed by the House Appropriations Committee. While there were no changes in the DBHDD budget, the DCH budget had a few changes. If you are interested in seeing the specific changes, click here for the tracking sheet. It shows the Governor's recommendations and the House's recommendations side by side. Quick tip, DCH is on page 22.

The entire House voted and passed their version of the budget. It has now been sent over to the Senate. The Senate Appropriations Committee will make some changes, the Senate as a whole will pass it, and we will then have two different budgets -the House and the Senate's. Senators and Representatives will enter into something called a Conference to come to an agreement. The compromise filled budget will then be sent to the Governor to sign. Remember though, this is only the Amended Fiscal Year 17 Budget, Georgia must still go through this whole process again with the Fiscal Year 18 Budget.

Moving on to Proxy Caregiving. The House Human Relations and Aging Committee held a hearing about Proxy Caregiving last week. For those of you who don't know, proxy caregiving is when a medical professional trains a caregiver to perform health maintenance activities (any activity which, if not for the disability, the person could likely perform for themselves). The Service Providers Association for Developmental Disabilities (SPADD) expressed concerns relating to challenges they face with medication administration as a health maintenance activity in certain residential settings. GCDD testified to ask the committee to ensure any potential solutions that are considered not cause any negative consequences to those who currently benefit from proxy caregiving. We will keep you posted on what we learn in terms of what the committee may recommend based on the testimony they heard. For a quick refresher on Proxy Caregiving, click here.

The Family Care Act: While it has yet to be dropped in the hopper, we will keep you posted on when it does and let you know the bill number so you can support it! Remember, Senator Butch Miller is sponsoring, so if you do see him be sure to thank him. As soon as we have a bill number, we will send out. In the meantime, be sure to come out February 28 to show your support for the Family Care Act as they will be one of the participating organizations for GCDD Advocacy Days.

The Georgia Budget & Policy Institute held their annual conference to discuss their analysis  of the budget. GCDD's Public Policy team was in attendance for a full day of learning. Of note, most speakers agree that the big focus this session will be on healthcare and education. We also spent quite a bit of time on the 2018 Fiscal Year Budget. Here are a few highlights courtesy of the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute. If you feel like putting your policy wonk hat on for a moment, I recommend you click here for their full report.

  • Despite 2018 being Georgia's biggest budget yet, in terms of per person spending we are just below our pre-recession levels.  
  • Education and Healthcare represent 2/3 of Georgia's budget.
  • Georgia's Rainy Day Fund is just over $2 billion, enough to fund Georgia's many government functions for 30 days.

New Bills to Watch

Click here for status updates on all the bills we are tracking.

SB 53 would require all commercial venues that hold at least 1,000 people to install one adult changing station for a person with a disability. Historic structures or anything smaller than 1,000 people would be exempt. (Seay)

SB 70 would extend the hospital Medicaid financing program, often referred to as the bed tax, until 2020. (Miller)

HB 77 would require the Department of Education to work with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities to provide all school systems in Georgia a list of training materials for awareness in mental health, behavioral disabilities, and learning disabilities. (Kendrick)

Quick Tip:  HB = House Bill    SB= Senate Bill

Public Policy for the People: 4 April 2017

 

public policy for the people enews

Volume 3, Issue 8   •   2017 Wrapup Edition   •   4 April 2017

Catch our final Public Policy Call of the year, this Thursday at noon!
1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357

Ponders by Phillip:

Phillip Modesitt

Since the legislative session ended yesterday, there are a few laws that I would like to talk about. First, there is HB343, which gets rid of the phrase "mental retardation" and replaces it with "intellectual disability." This is important to me because mental retardation can have a very negative meaning surrounding it. Intellectual disability is a more modern label.

Next I would like to talk about SB 201, the Family Care Act. This allows employees to use up to five days of earned sick leave in order to care for immediate family members. For example, if someone's spouse got sick, they would be able to get paid time off to take care of them.

Lastly I would absolutely like to talk about the Inclusive Post-Secondary Education funding. This will allow more schools in Georgia to have Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Programs like the Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth here at Kennesaw State University. It will also allow existing programs to be improved.

– Phillip James Modesitt

Events

The Georgia Advocates Group (GAG) Monthly Call

  • A cross disability coalition of advocates from across the state, joining together to exchange information and collaborate on various projects.
  • Next Call: April 19 at 1pm 641-715-3680 access code: 761894#
  • Contact: Charlie Miller at

The Georgia Accessible Transportation Coalition

  • Join with advocates from the across the state to discuss the need for more accessible transportation.
  • April 13, 10am to noon, at the Georgia Advocacy Office located at 1 West Court Square #625, Decatur, GA 30030.
  • Register online at http://bit.ly/2nHVQA0
  • Contact: Drew Walker at

GNETS Public Input

The Georgia Department of Education is in the preliminary stages of drafting a new state rule governing the GNETS program and services, and they want to hear from Georgia families.

The DOE is hosting four regional feedback meetings to get your input on the proposed draft rule regarding how Georgia provides supports for behavioral-related disabilities and the current GNETS programs.

GNETS feedback meeting locations:

Date

Meeting time

Buford City

April 12

3pm - 6pm

Dublin

April 13

3pm - 6pm

Thomasville

April 19

3pm - 6pm

Atlanta

June 15

9:30am

At these meetings, speakers will have 3 minutes to share their thoughts on the draft of the new proposed rule. If you cannot attend any of these meetings and want to provide public feedback, you can email your comments to and

The Georgia Advocacy Office & Parent 2 Parent of GA would like to support families and students with disabilities as you develop your speaking points, and invite you to join us in one of our several informational conference calls, where we will discuss the draft proposed rule and upcoming feedback meetings.

If you are interested in joining us for one of these conference calls, please follow the link below  to the session you would like to participate in. We will send the call-in information prior to the event.

Contact Leslie Lipson of the Georgia Advocacy Office with any questions about the prep sessions. or (404) 885-1234.

Looking Back

40 days has come and gone. The Georgia General Assembly closed up shop a little before 1am last Thursday, making Sine Die officially occurring on March 31st. Legislators will be returning home now to their various communities across Georgia, taking off their government hats and becoming our neighbors once again.

Overall it was a good session, due in large part to your hard work. We thank each and every one of you who made a phone call, wrote a letter, or showed up in person at an Advocacy Day. Your constant advocacy helped us achieve a lot. Still, we have a lot of work to do. We had some wins and some losses. GCDD is already starting to strategize for how we can be more successful next year. We will need your help, so please do stay tuned for advocacy opportunities throughout the off-season. This is a great time to connect with your legislators out in the community as well.

The Budget

The GA General Assembly did its one required job this year when they passed the FY 2018 Budget. Each chamber passed their own version and then came together in Conference Committee to compromise and produce the one version that now sits on Governor Nathan Deal's desk. If you would like to read more about each chambers version, click here.

The important thing to remember is that the Governor has 40 days to act on the budget. He has 3 options:

  • Sign the Budget - it becomes law
  • Don't sign the budget - it still becomes law
  • Line Item Veto -Governor can veto a specific line of the budget without vetoing the whole budget. This makes him extra powerful because anything in the budget is open to the Governor's veto, which would make that line null and void.

We had two budget asks this year.

1. DD Waivers

There was no increase in DD waiver funding this year, beyond that which is required by the DOJ Extension Agreement with DBHDD. This is a problem because the 250 spots added in the FY 18 Budget per the DOJ Extension Agreement will go mostly to transitioning people out of Gracewood State Hospital. While this is important, it will do little to reduce the 8,698 Georgians waiting for a DD waiver in GA.

We were able to get some budget language added, instructing DBHDD to:

57.15 The department shall develop and report to the Georgia General Assembly on a multi-year plan to reduce and eliminate the waiting list for NOW and COMP waivers with yearly outcome measures by December 31, 2017.

We hope to work with DBHDD as they make their multi-year plan to reduce and eliminate the waiting list.

2. IPSE

We advocated for $300,000 in new IPSE funding, to allow for scholarships to students and sustainability. We are very excited to say that we got an increase of $325,000 this year.

Of note, traditionally IPSE funding has been funneled through GCDD. This year, it was moved to GVRA (the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency), which is hoping to utilize their Federal 4 to 1 match. So in total GVRA will have $500,000 in state funds to use for IPSE programs, which could potentially draw down up to an additional $2 million.

We are excited to see all the good this additional funding will do for students across the state.

Non-Budget Asks. AKA Bills.

Unlike with the Budget where the Governor has a line item veto power, with Bills the Governor must either:

  • Veto the whole bill - does not become law
  • Sign the bill - becomes law
  • Don't sign the bill - becomes law

SB 201: The Family Care Act

With a few modifications, the Family Care Act has passed! It is now waiting for the governor's signature. We owe Senator Butch Miller a great deal of thanks for all his hard work. Should you see him, or simply want to reach out, please let him know how grateful Georgians with disabilities are for his hard work. Assuming Governor Deal signs the bill, Georgians who work 30 hours a week or more, at a company that employees over 25 people and does not offer its employees a stock ownership plan, will be able to use up to five days of earned sick leave to care for a family member.

Important note, there is a sunset provision. That means that unless the Family Care Act is extended, it will be repealed July 1, 2020.

Contact Cindia Cameron of the GA Job Family Collaborative at with any questions.

HB 343: The offensive MR word removed

We are excited to say that HB 343, which updates GA code to replace the offensive MR word with Intellectual Disability, passed this session. We thank Representatives Scott Hilton and David Dreyer, as well as Stacey Ramirez of The Arc GA for all their hard work.

Contact Stacey Ramirez of The Arc GA with any questions at

Looking Ahead

Employment First 

We at GCDD remain firm in the belief that everyone, regardless of their ability, can work with the right supports, should they so choose. GCDD looks forward to engaging with partners such as DBHDD and GVRA to ensure a time comes, soon, when GA commits to making employment, in an integrated setting, with pay at or above minimum wage for everyone a top priority.

Children's Freedom Initiative 

Many may not know, but there are still children with developmental disabilities under the age of 22 living in institutional settings here in GA. The Children's Freedom Initiative remains committed to the belief that all children should have a permanent loving home.

To learn more or find out how you can get involved, please contact Joe Sarra of the Georgia Advocacy Office at

SB 185: Changing the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disabilities

SB 185 did not make Crossover Day. While the bill is dead until next year, we are incredibly optimistic about SB 185's prospects moving forward. We thank Senator Elena Parent for all her hard work on this legislation. Despite not making Crossover Day, SB 185 did have a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, Sub Committee B. While no vote was taken, this was an excellent opportunity for advocates to provide testimony on the issue and for the Senators present to ask questions and get more information on the issue. We have made incredible progress on this issue this year intend to spend the off-season preparing for the 2018 session!

To learn more, contact Caitlin Childs of the P.A.P.E Coalition at

Transportation

We continue to support the work of Drew Walker, of the American Wheelchair Society, to create the Georgia Accessible Transportation Coalition to advocate for accessible transportation across the state.

To learn more, or how you can get involved, contact Drew Walker at See above in the events section for how you can attend a GA Accessible Transportation Coalition Meeting.

Elder and Disabled Abuser Registry

We continue to support the work of our partner, the Georgia Council on Aging (CO-AGE), in working with Chairman Cooper, the Department of Community Health, and Georgia Bureau of Investigation, to create a registry where employers and families can perform checks on all personal care aides. This would expand the current registry, which only includes Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs).

To learn more, contact Kathy Floyd of the Georgia Council on Aging at

Other Bills of Interest awaiting Governor's signature:

SB 16: Expanding those who can use low THC Oil to include Alzheimer's disease, AIDS, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy, Tourette's syndrome, and those in hospice care. It also allows people from out of state, with a registration card issued by another state that allows the same possession of low THC oil as Georgia, to use the card when in GA for less than 45 days. (Ben Watson)

SB 70: Reauthorizes the collection of the Hospital Provider Fee until 2020. It is a fee based on a percentage of patient revenue and is used to fund GA's Medicaid program. (Butch Miller)

SB 149:Deals with School Resource Officer training and requirements, notably requiring school resource officers to be trained in interacting with students with mental health labels. (Emanuel Jones)

SB 206: Requires health plans to provide coverage of hearing aids for children, $3,000 per ear, every 48 months. Certain exceptions apply. (P.K. Martin)

HB 221: Updates GA's power of attorney statute to allow for protections for individuals who grant the power of attorney while also giving clarification for responsible caregivers and financial institutions. (Chuck Efstration)

HB 241:Cove's Law, this adds Krabbe disease to the list of metabolic and genetic conditions for which newborn screenings may be conducted. (Lee Hawkins)

HB 425:Clarifies that parents can, without penalty, opt their child out of standardized testing in schools, as well as choose for their child to use paper and pencil, rather than a computer, when testing. (Joyce Chandler)

HB 486:Allows for the DBHDD and DCH to select and approve a training curriculum for instructing Proxy Caregivers in medicine administration. Previously only medical professionals could provide the training, but now providers may train with the curriculum and not have to find a medical professional. (Tommy Benton)

HB 154:Allows dental hygienists working for a dentist to provide teeth cleanings within safety net settings such as schools, hospitals, clinics, federally qualified health centers, volunteer community health settings, senior centers, and family violence shelters. (Sharon Cooper

Public Policy for the People: 8 January, 2018

 

public policy for the people enews

Volume 4, Issue 12018 Legislative Session January 8, 2018

Call to Action:Sign upfor 2018 Advocacy Days
and ask five friends to do the same.

Hello fearless advocates,

It is day one of the Georgia General Assembly and that means Public Policy for the People is back! For our new readers, Public Policy for the People is GCDD's bi-monthly legislative e-newsletter. It will keep you up to date on the happenings of the Georgia General Assembly, how that might impact Georgians with disabilities, and what you can do to influence the process. We hope you will stick with us over the next three months as we embark on the civic adventure that is Georgia's state legislature.

Talk with you soon,
Your Public Policy Team

Keep Up-To-Date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30 am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357. First call will occur January 16 on account of MLK Day.
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • Read upcoming Public Policy for the People newsletters: 1/16, 1/29, 2/12, 2/26, 3/12, 3/26

Who are my state legislators?

Looking Ahead

2018 GCDD Advocacy Days

Jan 23: DD Waivers
Jan 31: Employment
Feb 14: Medicaid
Feb 22: Inclusive Post-Secondary Education
Feb 15: UNLOCK! Coalition
Mar 15: Medicaid

Click here to register online!


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

What are GCDD's legislative priorities?

  • Increasing funding for DD Waivers so people can move off the NOW/COMP waiting list and receive the community-based supports they need
  • Prioritizing funded supports for competitive integrated employment opportunities
  • Ensuring level funding for Inclusive Post Secondary Education
  • Protecting Medicaid in Georgia
  • Removing barriers that result in children growing up in nursing facilities or private institutions

What is GCDD supporting?

  • Creating an Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry (CO-AGE Led)
  • Funding Aging & Disability Resource Centers (CO-AGE Led) - Click here for a quick Advocacy Ask!
  • Lowering the standard to prove intellectual disability in Georgia for capital punishment cases (P.A.P.E Coalition Led)
  • Furthering the UNLOCK! Coalition's Goals

What are my next advocacy steps?


Learn the Lingo

Bicameral: A fancy way of saying the Georgia General Assembly is made up of the House of Representatives & the Senate, as opposed to just having one.

Two Year Cycle: Every two years, the all members in the Georgia General Assembly run for re-election & all pending bills are wiped clean. We are in year two, which means that all bills introduced last year are still in play through the 2018 Session.

How does a bill become a law?

Other Days of Note:

Jan 8: First Day of Legislative Session
Jan 11: Healthcare Unscrambled with Georgians for a Healthy Future
Jan 15: March for Disability Rights in the MLK Day Jr Day Parade with disABILITY LINK
Jan 16: Champions for Children Day with Easter Seals
Jan 24: Autism Advocacy Day with Spectrum
Jan 25: Insights Policy Conference with Georgia Budget & Policy Institute
Jan 31: Champions for Children with Independent Living Georgia
Feb 7 & 8: Senior Week with CO-AGE
Feb 8: Independent Living Day with the Statewide Independent Living Council
Feb 15: ICM Day with the Interfaith Children's Movement
Feb 26: Justice Day with the Georgia Justice Project

Public Policy For The People: Making a Difference Magazine Fall 2017

by Dawn Alford and Hanna Rosenfeld

The summer of 2017 was dedicated to advocating for Medicaid. The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) joined other agencies, organizations, nonprofits and advocates to launch the No Cuts! No Caps! Campaign to bring attention to the dangers present for Georgians with disabilities in many of the healthcare proposals being discussed in the US Senate.

Georgia Capitol Gold DomeAs GCDD’s Executive Director Eric Jacobson shared in the Fall edition of Making a Difference magazine, “advocacy is the most important and effective way to get your voice heard.” This proved true across the nation as Georgians with disabilities joined the many voices rising across our great country to educate lawmakers on the dangers of cutting $800 billion from Medicaid. With all of your help, we were rewarded with the US Senate’s failure to pass the “Skinny Repeal” before their August recess.

Unfortunately, the fight resumed in September when the US Senate proposed yet another damaging healthcare bill that would be harmful to people with disabilities. The Graham-Cassidy Bill, sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Dean Heller (R-Nevada) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), once again, included massive cuts to Medicaid and rolled back many consumer protections granted in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Thankfully, the advocacy of so many paid off and the Senate decided not to vote on this bill. While it is unclear at this time what the future may hold, it is clear that the desire for healthcare change is real and not going away any time soon. The need to advocate and raise our voices continues to be strong as we guard against any potential changes that would harm people with disabilities.

As we prepare for future fights, we must learn from our past experiences. We now know that few elected officials or members of the general public understand the Medicaid program and who it serves. For example, many do not realize the difference between Medicaid “expansion” through the ACA which Georgia chose not to take, and traditional Medicaid, which has been around for more than 50 years and funds the home and community based services upon which so many people with disabilities rely. This contributed to the false security that people with disabilities felt, believing that their form of Medicaid would somehow be protected from the cuts being proposed. In collaboration with many partners across the State and the nation, GCDD was reminded of the need to continually educate our advocates and communities. As long as Medicaid continues to be the lifeline to the community for people with disabilities, we at the GCDD will continue to educate and advocate for its survival.

Along with Medicaid advocacy, September was the month of hurricanes. These natural disasters reminded us that people with disabilities must advocate for themselves by speaking with their caregivers, family members and other trusted supports to develop a personal emergency plan for any kind of emergency they might face. They must also engage with community officials and ensure that they have incorporated the needs of people with disabilities into their disaster planning efforts. 

Dawn Alford is the GCDD Public Policy Director.

Hanna Rosenfeld is the GCDD Planning and Policy Development Specialist.

To read more in Making a Difference magazine, see below:


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Public Policy for the People: Making a Difference Magazine Spring 2018

Looking Back at the 2018 Georgia Legislative Session
by Hanna Rosenfeld, GCDD Planning & Policy Development Specialist

The first day of the 2018 legislative session was on Monday, January 8th. The last day, known as Sine Die, occurred on Thursday, March 29th. Indeed, they did not drop the gavel for the last time until a few minutes past midnight (technically very early on March 30).

2018 marks the end of the two-year legislative cycle in Georgia. While the bills from this past year's legislative session (2017) remained active in the 2018 legislative session, the slate will be wiped clean going forward into next year. That means that any bill that either did not pass or is vetoed by Governor Nathan Deal must be re-introduced in next year's legislative session (2019).

The Georgia General Assembly fulfilled its one constitutionally required task when it passed the Amended Fiscal Year 2018 Budget (AFY18), the current fiscal year, and the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget (FY19), which begins July 1 and goes through June 30, 2019. The FY19 budget is comprised of $26.2 billion.

One pleasant surprise came in the last week of the legislative session when Governor Deal increased his revenue projections for the State of Georgia and recommended to the General Assembly that an additional $166.7 million be included to fully fund the Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula for K-12 education in GA for the first time since 2002.

Other key priorities seen in the FY19 budget include: $100 million in transit bond funding; over $19.7 million for children's mental health programs; and over $7.5 million to address the opioid and other addiction epidemic that seems to be plaguing much of the United States.

The FY19 Budget currently sits on Governor Deal's desk, and he has up to 40 calendar days after Sine Die, or May 8, to act on any bill passed in GA. His options are to sign, to veto, or only in the case of the budget, do a line item veto.

We Love Medicaid:
This legislative session, the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) focused on educating legislators about the importance of Medicaid in the lives of Georgians with disabilities. GCDD launched the "I Love Medicaid"GCDD AdvocacyDay campaign to remind legislators to protect Medicaid funding, especially for home and community-based services. We know that there are changes coming in the healthcare systems of Georgia and we want to be sure legislators fully understand how Georgians with disabilities rely on Medicaid when they make decisions.

One big healthcare decision came in the form of HB 769, sponsored by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), which creates the Rural Health System Innovation Center. The Center is tasked with researching, identifying and evaluating best practices for potential improvements for affordable healthcare in rural GA.

Another big change comes from SB 357, sponsored by Sen. Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge), which creates the Health Coordination and Innovation Council. This Council is tasked with identifying and promoting solutions to improve GA's healthcare system. While neither of these directly impact Medicaid, they both have the potential to create healthcare solutions in the future that might impact Medicaid.

Supported Employment:
GCDD advocated for an additional $4.8 million in dedicated long-term employment supports for Georgians with developmental disabilities who do not have a New Option Waiver (NOW) or Comprehensive Supports Waiver Program (COMP). Although this ask was not funded, GCDD remains committed to highlighting the importance of supported employment for individuals with disabilities.

GCDD is also excited about moving one step closer towards the State recognizing that competitive integrated employment should be the first and preferred option in the provision of publicly funded services for all working-age citizens with disabilities, regardless of the level of disability.

Spearheaded by the GA Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) and sponsored by Rep. Terry Rogers (R-Clarksville), HB 831 would create a 14-member Employment First Council comprised of state agencies, providers, individuals with disabilities, a family member and someone from the business community. The primary duty will be to study employment barriers for Georgians with disabilities and make policy recommendations to the Governor and GA General Assembly. Of importance, this bill does not create policy. It only creates the Council to make policy recommendations.

DD Waivers Waiting List:
The NOW and COMP Waivers continue to have the longest waiting list of all Medicaid Home and Community-Based waivers in GA. The waivers offer those who require an institutional level of care the option to receive those services in the community. As of March 9, 2018, there are 7,515 Georgians with developmental disabilities waiting for a NOW or COMP waiver. GCDD knows that for many of these Georgians, the need is urgent and they cannot wait any longer.

With the help of advocates, GCDD asked the GA General Assembly to fund 600 additional NOW and COMP waivers to make a small dent in the waiting list. This ask was based on Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities' (DBHDD) multi-year plan to address the waiting list in GA. While we were unsuccessful in our goal of 600, our advocacy retained Governor Deal's recommendation that 125 new NOW and COMP waivers be added to the budget at a cost of $3,138,073.

Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE):
IPSE programs provide opportunities for study beyond high school to students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Currently, there are eight IPSE programs in GA and two are slated to open in the next year. IPSE programs prepare students to live increasingly independent lives, pursue careers of their choice, and provide the potential for increased earnings long term.

GCDD is the legislative lead for the GA Inclusive Postsecondary Education Consortium (GAIPSEC). Last year, the GA General Assembly brought the funding level of IPSE programs to $500,000 and transferred the funding, which was previously housed at GCDD, to the GVRA. The FY19 Budget maintained level funding and transferred the $500,000 in state funding back to GCDD.

Other FY19 Budget Highlights:
Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD)

  • $220,000 increase to the Albany Advocacy Resource Center to fund their pre-school program for children with disabilities
  • $6,000,000 increase for Behavioral Health Crisis Centers
  • $250,000 increase for the Matthew Reardon Center for Autism
  • $5,922,917 increase for crisis services for children under 21 with autism
  • Utilize $266,119 in existing funds for telehealth services and three positions for behavioral health services for children under 21 with autism

GA Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD)

  • $14,000 increase to fund an agricultural summer camp for youth with disabilities

Department of Community Health (DCH)

  • $894,519 increase for the electronic visit verification system for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS)
  • $847,962 increase to develop capacity for behavioral health services for children under 21 with autism
  • Utilize $962,022 in existing funds for increased background checks for owners and employees of long-term care facilities
  • Utilize $50,700 in existing funds for one program coordinator position for children under 21 with autism
  • $16,894,882 nursing home rate increase
  • $1,204,573 to increase personal needs allowance for nursing home residents by $15 per month
  • $399,670 to increase Adult Day Health Centers reimbursement rates
  • $1,000,000 to increase reimbursement rates for Licensed Practical Nurses and Registered Nurses in the Georgia Pediatric Program

Department of Public Health (DPH)

  • $100,000 to develop capacity for children under 21 with autism
  • Utilize $50,700 in existing funds for one program support coordinator position for children under 21 with autism
  • $399,005 increase to Emory Autism Contract l $1,103,716 increase for occupational, speech and physical therapy rates in the Babies Can't Wait Program
  • $119,922 increase to the Brain & Spinal Injury Trust Fund to reflect 2017 collections

GA Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) - within the Department of Human Services budget

  • $200,000 increase for a state hub geographically located to provide outreach and services to support independent living for Georgians with disabilities living in Southwest Georgia
  • $20,000 increase for Friends of Disabled Adults and Children equipment

Department of Community Affairs (DCA)

  • $100,000 to the Statewide Independent Living Council for home modifications

Bills That Passed:
HB 65: Creates a Joint Study Commission on Low THC Medical Oil Access to study in-state access to medical cannabis and THC oil, as well as adds PTSD and intractable pain as conditions that qualify for low THC oil usage. (Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon)
HB 635:  The Disabled Adults and Elder Person's Protection Act - This bill allows for the creation of "Adult Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Multidisciplinary Teams to coordinate the investigation of and responses to suspected instances of abuse, neglect or exploitation of disabled adults or elder persons." (Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta)
HB 740: Before a school can expel or suspend a student in PK-3 for more than five consecutive or cumulative days during a school year, the student must first receive a multi-tiered system of supports. If the student has an IEP or plan under Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a meeting must be convened first before suspension/expulsion. (Rep. Randy Nix, R-LaGrange)
HB 803: This bill defines the human trafficking of an adult with a disability or the elderly as a felony if the accused through "deception, coercion, exploitation or isolation, knowingly recruits, harbors, transports, provides or obtains by any means" an adult with a disability or elderly person "for the purpose of appropriating" their "resources" for their own benefit. (Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs)
HR 1257: House Study Committee on the Workforce Shortage and Crisis in Home and Community Based Settings (Rep. Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah)
SB 118: Raises the age limit for coverage of autism services under private insurance policies to age 20. (Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford)
SB 370: Instructs the GA DCH to submit an amendment to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that waives any claim by Medicaid Estate Recovery on the first $25,000 in an individual's assets. (Rep. John Wilkinson, R-Toccoa)
SB 406:  Georgia's Long-Term Care Background Check Program - This bill requires background checks of employees with direct access to patients in long-term care settings such as nursing, personal care homes, and home healthcare. It also creates the Central Caregiver Registry to allow employers to search for caregiver background checks. It allows family members who are employing caregivers for their loved one (age 65 or over) to obtain an employment eligibility determination from DCH for the applicant care-giver. This was a GA Council on Aging priority for 2018. (Sen. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough).
SR 467: "Senate Study Committee on Service Animals for Physically or Mentally Impaired Persons" (Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford)
SR 506: "Senate Study Committee on the Excessive and Duplicative Regulatory Oversight of Community-Based Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Services" (Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton)

Bills That Did NOT Pass:
HB 668: This bill would allow guardianship proceedings when an individual is 17 years old. (Rep. Betty Price, R-Roswell)
HB 768:  Proof to a Preponderance of the Evidence - This bill sought to address the issue of Georgians with intellectual disabilities being executed for capital crimes by introducing a pre-trial proceeding to determine intellectual disability with a clear and convincing standard, as well as a system to raise intellectual disability claims prior to the sentencing phase with a preponderance of the evidence standard. (Rep. Scott Hilton, R-Peachtree Corners)
HB 891: This bill looks at discrimination that parents who are visually impaired or blind face in regard to child custody, adoption and visitation. (Rep. Carl Gilliard, D-Garden City)
The GA Special Needs Scholarship(the SB10 waiver) was the topic of two bills this legislative session, HB 759 and HB 801. While neither passed, GCDD understands that a group of legislators will be working on this issue over the summer in a non-official study committee. We will keep you updated as we learn more!

NOTE: Governor Deal has until May 8th to sign or veto these bills. If Governor Deal chooses not to veto or not to sign, the bill will become law.
This is not a comprehensive list of all bills that passed during the GA General Assembly.

GCDD's Public Policy Team

  • Dawn Alford, GCDD Public Policy Director
  • Hanna Rosenfeld, GCDD Planning and Policy Development Specialist

2018 Advocacy Days

GCDD held its third Advocacy Days at the Capitol to empower advocates, families and the community to educate legislators about issues that affect people with disabilities across Georgia. There were six Advocacy Days covering DD Waivers, Employment, Inclusive Post-Secondary Education, UNLOCK! Coalition and Medicaid.

GCDD also kicked off its "I Love Medicaid" Campaign on February 14th (Medicaid Advocacy Day) to collect and share stories of why Medicaid is important for people with developmental disabilities. For more photos of Advocacy Days, visit https://gcdd.org/news-a-media/photos.html

GCDD thanks all the Georgia legislators who met with advocates during the legislative session. Here are just a few:

  • Senator John Albers (R-Roswell)
  • Representative Wayne Howard (D-Augusta) 
  • Senator Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta)
  • Senator Horacena Tate (D-Atlanta

To read more in Making a Difference magazine, see below:


Download pdf version of Making a Difference Spring 2018    Download Large Print Version of Making a Difference Spring 2018

 

 

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Public Policy for the People: Making a Difference Magazine Winter 2018

by Dawn Alford and Hanna Rosenfeld

Made up of both the House of Representatives (180 members) and the Senate (56 members), the Georgia General Assembly serves as the State of Georgia’s legislative body. Charged with making the laws that govern the Peach State, the Georgia General Assembly meets for one 40-day legislative session each year, always starting the second Monday in January. The end date remains a bit of a mystery since the 40 days need not be continuous and are often spread out over a three-month period.

The Georgia General Assembly runs on a two-year cycle. We are on year two, meaning that any bill introduced last year is still active this session. The two-year cycle also refers to the fact that all the members must run for re-election every two years. Keeping in mind that many of our elected officials will be anxious to get back to their re-election campaigns, we imagine this will be a short legislative session.

Not only will we be re-electing our entire Georgia General Assembly in the fall, but we will also be electing a new Governor, as well as many other statewide office positions. With Governor Nathan Deal constrained by term limits, this will be our current Governor’s last chance to sign or veto legislation as a part of his legacy.

As the Georgia General Assembly reconvenes in 2018, they will be confronted with an ever-growing Georgia of 10.3 million people, over half of which cluster around the Greater Metro Atlanta area. While some needs are specific to rural or urban areas, many of the challenges facing Georgia, such as healthcare, education and the opioid epidemic, are statewide.

According to the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, Georgia plans to leverage $25 billion in state funding to draw down an additional $13.9 billion in federal funds, as well as $6.4 billion in other funds, for a total operating budget of $45.2 billion. More than two-thirds of Georgia’s budget goes to education and healthcare. Of the $13.9 billion in federal funds Georgia relies on, $7.7 billion is for Medicaid and PeachCare. The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities’ (DBHDD) 2018 Budget was $1.1 billion, of which $349.4 million went towards developmental disabilities services.

What happened last year?

Before discussing the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD)’s legislative priorities for the 2018 Georgia General Assembly, let’s take a brief moment to review a key outcome from the 2017 Georgia legislative session.

You may recall that in 2017 no additional funding was added to the state’s budget for additional DD waivers beyond that which was required from the Department of Justice (DOJ) Extension of Settlement Agreement with Georgia. While providing funding to support individuals’ transition from the state hospitals is of critical importance, it does very little to actually address the thousands of individuals and families that are languishing away on the DD waiver waiting list.

According to data provided by the Department of Community Health, there are 8,658 individuals waiting for a Medicaid NOW or COMP waiver as of September 30, 2017.

In response to the waiting list, many of you joined GCDD to advocate for DBHDD come up with a multi-year plan to eliminate this waiting list. Our advocacy was successful and the following budget language was added to the State Fiscal Year 2017 budget: 57.15 The department shall develop and report to the Georgia General Assembly on a multi-year plan to reduce and eliminate the waiting list for NOW and COMP waivers with yearly outcome measures by December 31, 2017.

At the end of last year, DBHDD shared the draft of the aforementioned plan and sought input from GCDD. As of the publication deadline for this article, the final plan was being revised by DBHDD. Once DBHDD’s plan has been submitted officially to the legislature and is made public, GCDD will let you know where you can find it and read the details for yourself. GCDD will also use the information provided by this report to better inform our advocacy strategy and specific legislative asks for the 2018 session.

As always, GCDD remains committed to our mission of promoting public policy that creates an integrated life within the community for people with developmental disabilities, their families, and those who love them. This year we will focus our efforts on the following:

2018 Legislative Priorities – Led by GCDD

DD Waivers

As long as there is a DD waiver waiting list, GCDD remains committed to reducing and hopefully eliminating that waiting list. These waivers allow individuals with developmental disabilities who qualify for an institutional level of care to receive the support they need in their community surrounded by their loved ones. Wouldn’t we all rather live in a real home in the community with the supports we need to live an independent life? No one wants to be shut away in an institutional setting.

Integrated Employment

Employment provides a meaningful way for people with disabilities to spend their day, an outlet to share their gifts and talents, and even some financial independence. GCDD is committed to expanding competitive, integrated employment opportunities for Georgians with disabilities and reducing the barriers to employment people with disabilities encounter on a regular basis.

Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE)

Historically, individuals with developmental disabilities have had very limited, if any, options for pursuing post-secondary educational opportunities. Inclusive programs have improved that landscape. GCDD believes that all students, regardless of ability, should have access to post-secondary education programs throughout the State of Georgia. These inclusive post-secondary programs provide students with intellectual and development disabilities access to education not otherwise available.

Children’s Freedom Initiative

Many people do not realize that there are still children with disabilities in Georgia who currently reside in either a skilled nursing facility or a private institution. GCDD believes that all children deserve a permanent loving home. We at GCDD are committed to removing the barriers that result in children growing up in nursing facilities or private institutions.

Medicaid

Many people with disabilities rely on direct care professionals to assist them in their daily activities and to maintain their independence. Medicaid home and community-based services are the lifeline to these and other necessary services on which people with disabilities rely. Therefore, GCDD is committed to preventing cuts, caps or other reductions to Medicaid funding in Georgia that would put the lives of people with disabilities at risk.

GCDD Supports Our Partners:

Aging & Disability Resource Centers (ADRC)

ADRCs are a coordinated system of partnering organizations that are dedicated to providing accurate information about publicly and privately financed long-term supports and services to people who are aging or who experience disability. The Georgia Council on Aging is advocating for $4 million to strengthen the ADRC network by adding capacity to meet the growing demand for this crucial information.

Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry

The Georgia Council on Aging is advocating for the creation of an Abuser Registry in Georgia to help prevent the hiring of caregivers with a known history of abusing vulnerable adults.

Standard of Proof for Intellectual Disability

The PAPE (Proof to A Preponderance of the Evidence) coalition is working to lower the standard to prove intellectual disability in capital punishment cases to “preponderance of the evidence,” which is the standard used in most other states.

UNLOCK! Coalition

The Unlock! Coalition is a cross disability coalition that advocates for community integration in its many forms. The GCDD proudly supports the Unlock! Coalition. For more information, visit www.gcdd.org/unlock/

Federal/State Interplay

This has been a year filled with advocacy on the federal level. Many of the bills currently being discussed in Washington, DC have significant impacts on Georgians with disabilities. It will come as no surprise that much of what is occurring in Washington, DC impacts the activities of the Georgia General Assembly. You have probably heard the US Congress recently passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Among other things, this new tax system lowers corporate tax rates, as well as lowers taxes for most Americans with the largest cuts going to the most wealthy. While GCDD is not here to pass judgment on the merits of trickle-down economics, GCDD is concerned that lower federal taxes may mean less federal revenue.

If you recall earlier in this article, we mentioned that Georgia relies on about $13.9 billion in federal funding each year, most of which goes to programs like Medicaid and PeachCare (Medicaid for kids, otherwise known as CHIP). This means that if the federal government has less money to spend, Georgia may receive less money to fund these programs. We know how important Medicaid is for people with disabilities. Should less money come down from Washington, DC to fund these critical programs, the State of Georgia will be faced with many tough decisions.

Key Dates:

  • January 8: The first day of the legislative session.
  • January 11: The Governor presents his proposed budget to Georgia General Assembly.
  • The 28th Legislative Day: Crossover Day, which means this is the last day for a bill to pass from one chamber to another.
  • The 40th Legislative Day: Sine Die, otherwise known as the last day of the legislative session.

Get Involved!

Register for GCDD’s 2018 Advocacy Days
Once you have prepared your story, go to gcdd.org/publicpolicy/2018-advocacy-days.html so you can learn how to tell your story to your elected officials. Make your voice count!

Subscribe to Receive GCDD’s Advocacy Alerts
Make sure to visit www.gcdd.org to ensure you are subscribed to receive our advocacy alerts so you will continue to receive the most updated information.

Questions or Concerns? Just Ask!
Feel free to reach out to GCDD directly with any questions or concerns you have about advocacy or public policy as it relates to Georgians with disabilities. Visit gcdd.org/about/staff.htmland contact Dawn or Hanna.

ADVOCACY 101: Sharing your Story

Undoubtedly, the act of telling your own story is one of the strongest forms of advocacy out there. Data, graphs and statistics are all well and good, but they are so impersonal. They don’t stay with you in the same way an emotional appeal does. Making a personal connection and helping another person walk a moment in your shoes is powerful and long-lasting. Remember, the Georgia General Assembly is tasked with making laws to better the lives of Georgia’s citizens. It is important we put a face and a story to the over 10 million people who call Georgia home.

To help you structure your story, here are a few storytelling tips that hold true whether you are sharing your story in person or through paper and pen:

  1. Keep your story short. If the legislator has questions, they will ask.
  2. Be sure to introduce yourself, share where you are from, and why you are sharing your story.
  3. Share why the issue is important to you. What will happen if this proposed law is passed and what will happen if this proposed law is not passed.
  4. Keep it simple. Remember the legislator does not need to know everything about you and your situation, just hit the key points.
  5. Remember, you are the expert on your life. This means you are also the best person to tell your story.

2018 Advocacy Days

Register NOW for the 2018 Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities’ Advocacy Days!

Join GCDD at the Capitol this legislative session to learn about policies affecting people with disabilities and join advocates from across the State in speaking with elected officials about these very important issues. We need your help to educate Georgia’s lawmakers about topics important to our community, like the DD Waiver Waiting List, Employment, Inclusive PostSecondary Education, the UNLOCK! Coalition and Medicaid. Register early to secure your spot! www.eventbrite.com/e/2018-gcdd-advocacy-days-registration40146345801 (This link is no longer active.)

Dates & Topics of 2018 Advocacy Days 

  • Advocacy Day #1 DD Waivers (January 23) - If you are on the waiting list for a NOW/COMP waiver OR you are currently enjoying the benefits of the waiver, then this is the day for you.
  • Advocacy Day #2 Employment (January 31) - Let’s talk JOBS. Come educate your legislator about your integrated and paid community job, or the barriers standing in your way!
  • Advocacy Day #3 Medicaid (February 14) - Medicaid is the lifeline for people with disabilities to live in their community. Come join us in educating our legislators about the importance of Medicaid in our lives. Remember in GA, Medicaid goes by many names: NOW/COMP Waiver, ICWP, CCSP, SOURCE, Katie Beckett and GAPP, just to name a few.
  • Advocacy Day #4 Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Programs (February 22) - If you attend, graduated from, or hope to one day attend one of GA’s Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Programs, then this is your day!
  • Advocacy Day #5 UNLOCK! Coalition (February 28) - Join the UNLOCK! Coalition down at the Capitol to educate legislators on the importance of community integration.
  • Advocacy Day #6 Medicaid (March 15) - Medicaid is the lifeline for people with disabilities to live in their community. Come join us in educating our legislators about the importance of Medicaid in our lives. Remember in GA, Medicaid goes by many names: NOW/COMP Waiver, ICWP, CCSP, SOURCE, Katie Beckett and GAPP, just to name a few

Time: All advocacy days will run from 8:30 AM till approximately 12:30 PM
Location: Central Presbyterian Church across from the Georgia State Capitol at 201 Washington Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30303

Daily Schedule Overview

8:30 - 9:00 Arrival and registration
9:00 - 9:20 Welcome and understand the Legislative Ask
9:20 - 9:40 Demonstration of a visit with a legislator
9:40 - 10:10 Break into teams to practice the Legislative Visit
10:10 - 12:30 Go to the State Capitol in teams to call legislators to the ropes

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there ID requirements to enter the event?
Bring photo identification. You will need it to pass through security in the Capitol.

What are my transportation/ parking options for getting to and from the event?
MARTA: Take Blue line to Georgia State MARTA Transit station and use the MLK Jr. Drive exit. Head right on MLK Jr. Drive for 1.5 blocks. Central Presbyterian Church will be on the corner of MLK Jr. Drive and Washington Street.

PARKING OPTIONS:
Steve Polk Plaza: 65 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, GA – Located near Underground Atlanta & Georgia Railroad Freight Depot.
Capitol Lot Daily: 218 Capitol Avenue, Atlanta, GA – Located on Capitol Avenue near the State Capitol.
Pete Hackney: 162 Jesse Hill Jr., Drive, Atlanta, GA – Located at the corner of Jesse Hill Jr. Drive and Decatur Street.
Underground Deck A: 75 MLK Jr Dr SW, Atlanta, GA 30303

What can I not bring into the event?
Weapons are not allowed in the State Capitol. Please leave all knives, guns and other such items at home.

What if I don’t know who my State Senator or State Representative is?
Find out at www.openstates.org.

Who can I contact with any questions?
Contact Stacey Ramirez at .

Dawn Alford is the GCDD Public Policy Director.
Hanna Rosenfeld is the GCDD Planning and Policy Development Specialist.

To read more in Making a Difference magazine, see below:


Download pdf version of Making a Difference Fall 2017    Download Large Print Version of Making a Difference Summer 2017

 

 

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Public Policy for the People: Special Edition - Dec 21, 2016

public policy for the people header

Special Edition   •   2017 Legislative Primer   •   December 21, 2016

Find out who your state legislators are! Go to: openstates.org/

Hello Advocates and Allies,

The first day of the legislative session, January 9, is fast approaching. We hope you are getting as excited as we are to take the Gold Dome by storm this year. To help get you up to speed, we are releasing our 2017 Legislative Primer edition of Public Policy for the People. Once session starts, you can expect to receive a copy every other Monday. You are receiving this because you had previously indicated your interest via our online Advocacy Network. We are always trying to grow our reach, so please feel free to forward this to all of your friends and have them sign up to receive the latest edition straight to their inbox. Visit bit.ly/GCDDAlerts to sign up.

This year we will be hosting six Advocacy Days. We hope you will join us down under the Gold Dome to speak with your legislator. Registration information is below.  

See you in a few short weeks,   The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities

Looking Ahead

Plan to attend GCDD Advocacy Days. Register online at: bit.ly/2fRxoYX

  • Jan 18 – Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Advocacy Day
  • Feb 1 – DD Waivers Advocacy Day 1
  • Feb 7 – DD Waivers Advocacy Day 2
  • Feb 23 – Employment Advocacy Day
  • Feb 28 – Enable Work and Families Advocacy Day (Family Care Act, Peach Work, and Phillip Payne Personal Assistance Program)
  • March 9 – Home & Community Advocacy Day (Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry, People First Language, Residential Housing Study Committee, Transportation)

GCDD has a lot of friends hosting Advocacy Days on issues important to our community. We encourage you to come out and show your support for our friends. 

  • Jan 19 – Senior Day (GA Council on Aging)
  • Jan 25 - Sickle Cell Day (Sickle Cell Foundation of GA)
  • Jan 31 - Mental Health Day (GA Parent Support Network)
  • Feb 2 – Justice Day at the Capitol (GA Justice Project)
  • Feb 3 – Alzheimer’s Awareness Day (Alzheimer’s Association, GA Chapter)
  • Feb 8 – Stop Violence Against Women Day (GA Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
  • Feb 14 – Change the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disabilities in Capital Punishment Cases (PAPE Coalition and Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty)
  • Feb 15 –Interfaith Children’s Movement Day at the Capitol 
  • Feb 15 – Senior Week (GA Council on Aging)
  • Feb 16 – Senior Week (GA Council on Aging) 
  • Feb 21 - Catholic Day at the Capitol 
  • Feb 23 – Hemophilia of GA Day  (Hemophilia of GA)
  • Feb 28 – Anti-Sex Trafficking Lobby Day (City of Refuge, Freedom Coalition, GA Cares, Haven ATL, Out of Darkness, Street Grace, United Way of Greater Atlanta, Wellspring Living)
  • Mar 9 –Lupus Awareness Day (Lupus Foundation of America, GA Chapter) • Mar 16 –Type 1 Diabetes Day (JRDF)

If you know of an Advocacy Day that our readers might be interested in learning about, please email Include your name, contact information, time, date, sponsoring organization, and summary of purpose for holding the event. 

Keep up to date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357. First Call is January 9! - Note that due to MLK Day, call scheduled for Jan 16 will occur Jan 17
  • Join our Advocacy Network at bit.ly/GCDDAlerts
    To join you will need to provide an email address. When you sign up, be sure to select Public Policy Alerts and UNLOCK! alerts so you get the most up to date information. If you signed up last year, be sure to check and make sure your information is up to date. 
  • Read Public Policy for the People. Released every other Monday. - Jan 17, Jan 30, Feb 13, Feb 27, Mar 13, Mar 27

Learn the Lingo

  • Dropped – It’s actually a good thing. A bill is dropped when it is assigned a number and gets sent to committee. Until a bill is dropped, nothing can get done. 
  • Working the Ropes – No we aren’t playing jump rope. Because the legislator’s offices are roped off, you must wait by the ropes in front of the office to speak with them. 
  • Page – Not just something you find in a book, a Page is a messenger, usually a student, who will let your legislator know you are ready to speak with them at the ropes!

Be in the Know:

Brush up on GCDD’s 2017 Legislative Priorities

Led by GCDD

We Need More DD Waivers – Budget Ask 
Currently in GA, the waitlist for NOW/COMP waivers has 8,698 individuals with developmental disabilities waiting desperately for the level of care and services they need and for which they have already qualified.

  • Fund at least 2470 NOW (80%) /COMP (20%) waivers to reduce Georgia’s longest waiting list and allow more individuals to begin to receive services. $33,058,273

Employment First
Employment First means that employment should be the first and preferred option for all people, regardless of their disability. Under Employment First legislation, employment in the general workforce at or above minimum wage is the first and preferred option for all working age citizens with disabilities. Under Employment First policy, state agencies will need to re-align their policies and funding to prioritize employment for all working-age Georgians with disabilities.

  • Support legislation that addresses employment barriers for people with disabilities, makes Georgia an Employment First state, and prioritizes competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities. 

Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) – Budget Ask
IPSE provides opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities to access higher education. This education prepares them to live increasingly independent lives and pursue careers of their choice. Graduates from IPSE programs are more likely to find employment and earn 73% more than their peers who do not receive post-secondary education. 

  • Support the sustainability of IPSE programs in GA and increase student access to these programs. Increase legislative funding from $200,000 to $500,000 in total, $100,000 of which can be student scholarships. The FY 2018 ASK for new funding: $300,000.

Children’s Freedom Initiative: Bring Georgia’s Children Home:

  • Support efforts to ensure all children have a permanent loving home. Support legislation to prevent young Georgians under the age of 22 from being placed in intermediate care or nursing facilities. Provide funding for all of the Georgians with disabilities under the age of 22 who are currently living in facilities to move into permanent loving homes an

Supported by GCDD but led by other partners

Support Georgians Who Care For Their Families: The Family Care Act

  • Enables Georgians who have earned sick leave to use up to five days of that leave to care for sick family members.
  • Contact: or visit gajobfamily.org/ 

Change the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disabilities in Capital Punishment Cases
The US Supreme Court said it is wrong to execute a person with an intellectual disability in 2002 because of the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. GA is the only state that requires a person to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that they have an intellectual disability in capital punishment cases. This is very difficult to prove. 

  • Change the legal standard of proof for proving intellectual disabilities in O.C.G.A to “preponderance of the evidence,” which is the standard used in most other states. 
  • Contact: Dorinda Tatum at

Support the Elder and Disabled Abuser Registry
This registry would allow employers of direct care workers to have a better way to screen potential employees and may deter abusers. 

  • Create an Elder and Disabled Abuser Registry in GA
    Contact: Georgia Council on Aging’s Kathy Floyd at or 404.657.5342 

 Support Enable Work

  • The creation of the Phillip Payne Personal Assistance Program, a sliding fee scale program for workers with disabilities to pay a cost share that would allow them to access Personal Assistant Services to maintain their independence.
  • The creation of PeachWork, a program whose purpose is to provide people with disabilities who are working the opportunity to earn as much as they can and accumulate savings while maintaining needed health coverage.
  • Contact: Shelly Simmons of the Statewide Independent Living Council at or 770-270-6860

SPADD Housing Study Committee
Social Security income is the only resource to many individuals with developmental disabilities to pay for housing.

  • A legislative study of residential care costs and exploration of funding to support I/DD organizations to bridge the gap between an individual’s Social Security income and the cost of housing is necessary.
  • Contact: Julianna McConnell of the Service Providers Association for Developmental Disabilities at or 770.713.1249

People First Legislation
GA is one of a few states that still uses language in policy that conveys negative or derogatory perceptions about people with disabilities. Appropriate substitute language is recommended along with the use of terminology that “puts the person before the disability.”

  • Contact: Stacey Ramirez of The Arc Georgia at or 470.222.6088

Around Town with UNLOCK

2017 marks the first year the UNLOCK! Coalition has unveiled its own shared agenda, as voted upon by coalition members. Keep up to date on coalition issues and alerts through reading Public Policy for the People. 

The 2017 UNLOCK Legislative Priorities Are:

1. DD Waiver Funding
2. Employment
3. Elder and Disabled Abuser Registry 
4. SPADD Housing Study Committee
5. People First Legislation
6. Transportation
The Georgia Accessible Transportation Coalition advocates for accessible transportation including sidewalks and public transportation across the state.
• Contact Drew Walker of the American Wheelchair Society at or 404.919.6178

Public Policy for the People: Volume 1, Issue 1 - January 9, 2015

 PUBLIC POLICY FOR THE PEOPLE, Brought to you by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities. January 9, 2015, Volume 1, Number 1

  • Don't miss this first edition of GCDD's new public policy newsletter, "Public Policy for the People"!!

  • The 2015 Georgia legislative session is right around the corner - find out how YOU can get involved!!

  • Meet the newest (four-legged) member of GCDD's public policy team!

INSIDER HIGHLIGHTS

The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities wants to wish you a Happy New Year!!  The 2015 Legislative session starts on Monday January 12th and we are looking forward to an exciting 2015!  Keep reading to see some of the great things we have planned.

First, many of you may remember our legislative newsletter "Moving Forward" from previous years that went out electronically each week during the legislative session and was mailed every other week. We are replacing that with a public policy newsletter entitled "Public Policy for the People."  Public Policy for the People will be an electronic-only newsletter that will go out approximately every other week during the legislative session and quarterly during the rest of the year.  Our hope is that this newsletter will provide you, the concerned citizens of Georgia, with valuable information that will empower you to become involved in our advocacy to make Georgia a better place for people with disabilities!

Kab, Dawn Alford's new service dogIn other news:  

Dawn Alford, the Acting Public Policy Director, at the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, has a new service dog, Kab (pictured below), who is the newest (four-legged) member of the GCDD public policy team.  Just as her previous service dog McAllister was, Kab will be an integral member of the GCDD team supporting Dawn as she works down at the Capitol during thesession.

And D'Arcy Robb, who many of you remember as the former Public Policy Director of GCDD, has a new role as a public policy contractor specifically to work toward creating an Employment First policy in Georgia.

Be sure to read the rest of the newsletter to see how you can get involved!

BUDGET 101

This section of the newsletter will highlight the activities and information regarding the Amended FY2015 and FY2016 Budget. Below is the Unlock the Waiting Lists Legislative ASK.  For more information on Unlock the Waiting Lists, visit http://www.unlockthewaitinglists.com/ 

2015 Legislative Session - FY 2016 Ask

Unlock Waiting Lists advocates investing in Georgians with disabilities so they their families can live full lives and contribute to Georgia communities and the Georgia economy. We believe Georgia must rebalance its system of long-term suppports, so that fewer dollars are spent on institutional care and more dollars are invested into long-term supports in the community.

Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities, FY 2016

Increased funding for 1,000 NOW/COMP waivers to address the community waiting list of 7,378 people:
$16,493,000

Housing vouchers to support 100 people with developmental disabilities who wish to live in their own home or apartments 
$600,000 Fund 26 COMP waivers so that young Georgians with disabilities under the age of 22 who are currently living in nursing facilities or intermediate care facilities can move out of these facilities into permanent loving homes
$799,316

Department of Community Health, FY 2016

Increase the ICWP rate for Personal Support Services to $20.00/hour to be consistent with other Georgia Medicaid Waivers $21,000,000. We recommend phasing in this amount starting with increasing the Personal Support rate by $3/hour for FY2016.
$7,975,490

Who's Who:

The 2015 legislative session is the first year of a two-year legislative cycle.  Below we review the leadership changes.  You can visithttp://www.legis.ga.gov to find the contact information for these elected officials.

House:
Speaker of the House: David Ralston
Speaker Pro Tempore: Jan Jones
Majority Leader: Larry O'Neal
Minority Leader: Stacy Abrams 

Senate:
Presiding: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle
President Pro Tempore: David Shafer
Majority Leader: Bill Cowsert
Democratic Leader: Steve Henson

Contact Information for the Governor:
The Honorable Nathan Deal
Office of the Governor
206 Washington Street, Suite 203, State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334
Phone: 404-656-1776 
Send an Email

ADVOCACY CORNER

New this year:  Advocacy Days at the Capitol

Here at GCDD we are asking everyone impacted by and interested in disability rights to get involved.  We realize that the idea can seem daunting, but your voices need to be heard.  For that reason, we want to help teach you how to speak to your legislators.  During the 2015 legislative session, the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities and Unlock the Waiting Lists! will be hosting a series ofAdvocacy Days at the Capitol! See the schedule below for dates and times. Due to space limitations, everyone must register in advance using the link below.  While you are there, don't forget to register for Disability Day.

http://www.ciclt.net/sn/events/e_signup.aspx?ClientCode=gcdd&E_ID=500061&RegType=ATT

We Need Waivers Day -Wednesday, January 21st, 9 am - 12 Noon:
Did you know over 7,000 Georgians are on the waiting list for a NOW or COMP waiver? Join us as we advocate to get more waivers! 

ICWP Raise the Rate Day-Thursday, January 29th, 9 am - 12 Noon:
The going rate for personal care is $20 an hour, but under ICWP, caregivers take home as little as $8. As a result, Georgia families are in crisis because they cannot find caregivers. Join us as we advocate to raise this impossibly low rate!

Kids Need Real Homes, Not Nursing Homes Day -Wednesday, February 4th,9 am - 12 Noon:
Did you know that right now, at least 26 school aged children in Georgia live in nursing homes or facilities for people with disabilities? Join us as we advocate for 26 COMP waivers to bring these children home!

Employment First Day -Wednesday, February 11th, 9 am - 12 Noon:
Working age Georgians with disabilities want real jobs in their communities, and right now, so many people can't get the support to do so. Join us as we advocate for an emphasis on real jobs with Employment First!

Youth Day -Thursday, February 19th,9 am - 12 Noon:
Calling all youth with disabilities! The future of the disability community lies in your hands. Come advocate for yourself and your friends and enjoy the excitement of the legislature in action!

*Question of the Week*

Question:  How do I find out the name and contact information of my state senator and representative?

Answer:  Visitwww.openstates.org and simply type in your address. 

If you have specific questions regarding a public policy issue or advocacy please email us at GCDD.PublicPolicy@gmail.com.  Use the subject line "Advocacy Question for Newsletter."  Your question could appear in a future issue of the newsletter.  We look forward to seeing your faces and hearing your voices.  

Advocacy of the Week

We need YOU to get involved TODAY.  Here are three things you can do this week:

  1. If you haven't already, check your calendar and register for at least one of the Advocacy Days you want to attend.  Remember, your voice counts!
  2. Mark your calendar to join us for the first legislative call on Tuesday, January 20 at 9:30 a.m. (Note that after this week, legislative calls will be every Monday at 9:30am during the session). Dial 1-888-355-1249 and enter passcode 232357 at the prompt.
  3. Visit the Unlock website at http://www.unlockthewaitinglists.com.  It has a new look.  Send your comments to about what you like, don't like, and what is missing.

DATES TO REMEMBER

Georgia Legislative Session begins: January 12

Martin Luther King Remembrance Day: January 19

Mental Health Day at the Capitol: January 20

February is Self-Advocates Month at the Capitol

Be There 4 Seniors Rally at the Capitol: February 5

Alzheimer's Awareness Day at the Capitol: February 27

Disability Day at the Capitol: March 5

GCDD Advocacy Days 

We Need Waivers Day - Wednesday, January 21st, 9 am - 12 Noon

ICWP Raise the Rate Day - Thursday, January 29th, 9 am - 12 Noon

Kids Need Real Homes, Not Nursing Homes Day - Wednesday, February 4th, 9 am - 12 Noon

Employment First Day: Wed. Feb 11, 9 am - 12 Noon

Youth Day: Thurs. Feb 19, 9 am - 12 Noon

Weekly GCDD legislative call:  First call is Tuesday, January 20 at 9:30 am.  After that, every Monday at 9:30am. Dial 1-888-355-1249 and enter passcode 232357 at the prompt.

2015 LEGISLATIVE BILLS

This section will present a list of the bills that GCDD is tracking in a summary form. Detailed information will be available by clicking on the actual bill number. Both the House and Senate Bills will be presented by showing the Bill number, Sponsor, Title Summary and the most current activity. There will also be a link provided to a detailed legislative report after the session starts on January 12.

The Bills below are Prefiled Bills which GCDD is tracking.

2015 House Bills

HB 0001

 Peake, Allen     

Haleigh's Hope Act; enact

 

11/17/2014 - House Prefiled

2015 Senate Bills

SB 0007

 Curt Thompson

Controlled Substances Therapeutic Relief Act; repeal provisions; provide for medical use of marijuana; definitions (PF)

 

11/24/2014 - Senate Prefiled

For the latest public policy updates,click here to Join our Advocacy Network.  Be sure to subscribe to the Unlock and Public Policy Alerts. 

Thank you from the GCDD Public Policy Team

Dawn Alford: Acting Public Policy Director

D'Arcy Robb: Public Policy Consultant - Employment First

Dave Zilles: Public Policy Consultant - Unlock the Waiting Lists - Parent Advocate

Download pdf version.   Download Text Version

Public Policy for the People: Volume 1, Issue 2 - January 20, 2015

 PUBLIC POLICY FOR THE PEOPLE, Brought to you by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities. January 20, 2015, Volume 1, Number 2

  • The Governor releases his budget recommendations - see the highlights inside this issue!

  • New ramp at the CLOB improves accessibility for people with disabilities!

Paul D. Coverdell Legislative Office Building new accessibility rampINSIDER HIGHLIGHTS

We hope you had a wonderful MLK weekend and a great start to your week.  Last Friday the Governor released his budget recommendations, and this week the General Assembly is adjourned while they conduct joint budget hearings.  For the highlights of the budgets and more about the schedule for the hearings, keep reading.  Paul D. Coverdell Legislative Office Building new accessibility ramp

In other news: Those who visit the Capitol will notice that there have been several improvements in accessibility.  One of the biggest changes is a new ramp for people with disabilities to access the Paul D. Coverdell Legislative Office Building (CLOB). The ramp is located in front of the building, off of Capitol Square, adjacent to the main entrance.


For more information about accessibility around the Capitol, please visit the State of Georgia ADA Coordinator's Office website at http://ada.Georgia.gov/accessibility-capitol-hill

BUDGET 101

This section of the newsletter highlights the activities and information regarding the Amended FY2015 and FY2016 Budgets.
Check out the Unlock website for the most current information. 
http://www.unlockthewaitinglists.com/

This issue will focus on the Governor's budget recommendations. The entire budget can be found at:

Governor's FY2015 Amended Budget

Governor's FY2016 Budget 

Please click on the link below to for an attachment that highlights some of the details of the FY2015 Amended and FY2016 Budgets for people with disabilities.  Specifically, it contains information relating to the following agency budgets: the Department of Community Health (Medicaid Aged Blind and Disabled) and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (Adult Developmental Disabilities Services).
http://www.ciclt.net/ul/gcdd/Budget101-0112152.pdf

For the latest schedule of the budget hearings, please visit the following website:
 http://www.house.ga.gov/budget/en-US/budgethearings.aspx

Who's Who:

The 2015 legislative session is the first year of a two-year legislative cycle.  Below we introduce you to the leadership of the legislative committees that have oversight over many of the issues of interest for people with disabilities. You can visit http://www.legis.ga.gov for these and other elected officials.

House:
Rep. Sharon Cooper, District 43 

As Chairman of the Health and Human Services committee for the House of Representatives, Rep. Cooper leads the group that is responsible for legislation that affects the conditions of safety regulations and social services for the citizens of Georgia.

Rep. Tommy Benton, District 31 

Rep. Benton is the Chairman of the Human Relations and Aging committee and a member of the Appropriations committee.  The Human Relations and Aging committee is responsible for legislation that concerns the care and needs of Georgia's aging population.

Rep. Terry England, District 116 

As Chairman of the Appropriations committee, Rep. England leads the group of House legislators whose main focus is the writing of the state's amended and general fiscal year budgets for Georgia's state agencies and departments. They also hear legislation that has consideral impact on state revenues or expenditures.

Rep. Butch Parrish, District 158

Rep. Parrish is Chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on Health.  This subcommittee deals with budgetary matters related to the Department of Community Health.

Senate:
Sen. Jack Hill, District 4 

Sen. Hill, as Chairmen of the Senate Appropriations committee, leads a group of legislators that have broad jurisdiction over legislation involving the expenditure of state and federal funds.  They are responsible for developing and balancing the budget, and have fourteen standing subcommittees.

Sen. Renee S. Unterman, District 4

Sen. Unterman is Chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services committee, she is Vice Chairman of the Appropriations committee, and a member of the Insurance and Labor committee.  The Health and Human Services committee has jurisdiction over legislation relating to health care and social services.

Sen. Dean Burke, District 11

Sen. Burke is a member of the Health and Human Services committee as well as the Appropriations committee. The Health and Human Services committee has general jurisdiction over legislation concerning health care and social services. 

For a complete list of House committees go to: http://www.house.ga.gov/Committees/en-US/CommitteeList.aspx

For a complete list of Senate committees go to: http://www.senate.ga.gov/committees/en-US/SenateCommitteesList.aspx

ADVOCACY CORNER

*Question of the Week*

Question:  Where can I go to view a live broadcast of the action in the Georgia General Assembly?

Answer:  Live video feeds can be viewed here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/Streaming/en-US/Both.aspx. 

*Advocacy Tip*

Practice what you will say to your elected officials before your meetings.  Keep in mind that these are busy men and women, and may not have much time to spend with you.  If you can, have a one pager ready that you can hand to them summarizing the key points of what you want to discuss.  Your one pager should also clearly state your "ask" - or how you want them to help (e.g. support or oppose a bill, appropriate funding for an important issue).

Advocacy of the Week

We need YOU to get involved TODAY.  Here are three things you can do this week:

  1. If you haven't already, check your calendar and register for at least one of the Advocacy Days you want to attend as well as Disability Day at the Capitol. Remember, your voice counts!  To register, click the following link: http://www.ciclt.net/sn/events/e_signup.aspx?ClientCode=gcdd&E_ID=500061&RegType=ATT
  2. Mark your calendar to join us for the weekly GCDD Public Policy Calls every Monday at 9:30 a.m. during the session.  Dial 1-888-355-1249 and enter 232357 at the prompt.

DATES TO REMEMBER

The entire month of February is Self-Advocates Month at the Capitol

Alzheimer's Awareness Day at the Capitol: February 2

Be There 4 Seniors Rally at the Capitol: February 5

Disability Day at the Capitol: March 5

GCDD Advocacy Days 

We Need Waivers Day - Wednesday, January 21st, 9 am - 12 Noon

ICWP Raise the Rate Day - Thursday, January 29th, 9 am - 12 Noon

Kids Need Real Homes, Not Nursing Homes Day - Wednesday, February 4th, 9 am - 12 Noon

Employment First Day: Wed. Feb 11, 9 am - 12 Noon

Youth Day: Thurs. Feb 19, 9 am - 12 Noon

Weekly GCDD legislative call:  Every Monday at 9:30 a.m.  Dial 1-888-355-1249 and enter passcode 232357 at the prompt.

2015 LEGISLATIVE BILLS

This section will present a list of the bills that GCDD is tracking in a summary form. Detailed information will be available by clicking on the actual bill number. Both the House and Senate Bills will be presented by showing the Bill number, Sponsor, Title Summary and the most current activity. There will also be a link provided to a detailed legislative report after the session starts on January 12.

The Bills below are Prefiled Bills which GCDD is tracking.

2015 House Bills

HB 0001

 Peake, Allen     

Haleigh's Hope Act; enact

 

11/17/2014 - House Prefiled

2015 Senate Bills

SB 0007

 Curt Thompson

Controlled Substances Therapeutic Relief Act; repeal provisions; provide for medical use of marijuana; definitions (PF)

 

11/24/2014 - Senate Prefiled

For the latest public policy updates,click here to Join our Advocacy Network.  Be sure to subscribe to the Unlock and Public Policy Alerts. 

Thank you from the GCDD Public Policy Team

Dawn Alford: Acting Public Policy Director

D'Arcy Robb: Public Policy Consultant - Employment First

Dave Zilles: Public Policy Consultant - Unlock the Waiting Lists - Parent Advocate

Download pdf version.   Download Text Version

Public Policy for the People: Volume 1, Issue 3 - January 30, 2015

 PUBLIC POLICY FOR THE PEOPLE, Brought to you by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities. January 30, 2015, Volume 1, Number 2

**GCDD's First Two Advocacy Days a Success!

INSIDER HIGHLIGHTS

Last week the General Assembly was in recess all week following the MLK holiday but committees met to discuss the FY2015 Amended Budget. As of publication time for this newsletter, the House was set to vote on the FY2015 Amended Budget.

During the past two weeks, the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities held its first two Advocacy Days: We Need More (NOW/COMP) Waivers and Raise the ICWP Rate. These days were a great success with participants reporting feeling greater confidence in their ability to speak with legislators. Many meetings with legislators were held in which advocates got to tell their stories and why these issues are important to them. If you haven't already done so, please go to the Dates to Remember section to register for our upcoming Advocacy Days and Disability Day at the Capitol.

Also this week: Furthermore, Senate Bill 1, the autism insurance bill, passed unanimously out of the Senate. It wil now go to the House of Representatives.

ADVOCACY OF THE WEEK

We need YOU to get involved TODAY.  Here are three things you can do this week:

  1. Forward this newsletter to a friend and invite them to register for one of our Advocacy Days and Disability Day at the Capitol
  2. If you haven't already, check your calendar and register for at least one of the Advocacy Days you want to attend as well as Disability Day at the Capitol.  Remember, your voice counts!  To register, click the following link: http://www.ciclt.net/sn/events/e_signup.aspx?ClientCode=gcdd&E_ID=500061&RegType=ATT
  3. Mark your calendar to join us for the weekly GCDD Public Policy calls every Monday at 9:30 a.m. during the session.  Dial 1-888-355-1249 and enter 232357 at the prompt.

Second-year KSU academy student, Charlie Miller; D'Arcy Robb, GCDD Public Policy Consultant; and Yvette Pegues, Advocacy Day attendee.

ADVOCACY CORNER

The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities is hosting several advocacy days during the legislative session leading up to Disability Day at the Capitol.  For a list of the remaining advocacy days, including our annual Disability Day at the Capitol, and a link to register, please see the Dates to Remember section.

See the picture at left from one of our Advocacy Days along with what one attendee had to say about her experience.

From left to right: Second-year KSU academy student, Charlie Miller; D'Arcy Robb, GCDD Public Policy Consultant; and Yvette Pegues, Advocacy Day attendee.

"After I had my traumatic brain injury I lost control over so many things.  Advocacy gives me some power and control.  That's what today meant for me.  I'm hooked!"

- Yvette Pegues, Canton GA resident, reigning Mrs. Wheelchair USA, on what Advocacy Day meant to her

*Question of the Week*

Q: Do you know what it means to call your Representative or Senator to the ropes and how to do that?

A:  The best thing to do if you would like to visit your legislator is to call their office at the Capitol to request an appointment in advance.  However, if you are unable to get an appointment, there may still be hope that you can meet with your legislator in person.  When the Georgia General Assembly is officially in session (times may vary but it is often between 10am and noon), you can go to the third floor of the Capitol and "call your legislator to the ropes."  There is a simple form that you must fill out that says who you are, who your legislator is, and why you want to meet with them.  

Here is the form to call your Representative to the ropes:
Here is the form to call your Representative to the ropes:
Here is the form to call your Senator to the ropes:
Here is the form to call your Senator to the ropes:
Someone will take the note into the chamber and give it to your legislator. If they have time (and they often do, especially for their constituents), they will come out and meet you in the hallway where you are standing behind the ropes. If they cannot meet with you, you can still have the opportunity to send in a note with your contact information and any document on an issue you may wish for them to review. Please visit our Resources/Quick Links section to see several one page documents for advocates on our issues that you may wish to share with your legislators when you visit.

Do you have a question that you would like answered about advocacy or public policy? Submit your question to with the subject line, "Question for Newsletter." If we pick your question, you may see the answer featured in an upcoming issue.

BUDGET 101

In this section of the newsletter, we will highlight the activities and information regarding the Amended FY2015 and 2016 Budgets.

During the week of January 19, the House Appropriations met all week to discuss the FY2015 Amended budget. This week the FY2015 Amended Budget (HB75) was approved by the House Appropriations committee, and as of Wednesday 1/28/15, was scheduled to go to the full House for a vote. Details of the final House Appropriations Budget were not available at the time of this publication. The next step after a full House vote is for it to go to the Senate where it will be reviewed and modified.  

Check out the Unlock website for the most current information.
 http://www.unlockthewaitinglists.com/

To see the key sections of the FY2015 Amended budget most  relevant to disability issues, see the following sections and click on the link below:
Section 15: Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

Section 17: Department of Community Health

Section 27: Department of Human Services
HB 75 House Appropriations Tracking Document for DBHDD, DCH, and DHS

For those who want to review the entire budget recommendations from the Governor, see below:

Governor's FY2015 Amended Budget
 

Amended FY2015 Highlights
Governor's FY2016 Budget 

BILLS

2015 Legislative Bills

This section will present a list of bills that GCDD is tracking by clicking on the link to the GCDD Legislative Report below. Please note the information within this section is current as of Wednesday, January 28 (cutoff for publishing).

GCDD Legislative Report

Both the House and Senate bills will be listed by Bill Number, Sponsor, Title Summary, and the most current activity followed by Comments and Summary of the Bill. Please note that the second line of each bill will reflect the date of the most recent action and what action was taken. You can also click on the bill number within the report to link to the actual bill language itself and get even more detailed information.
Here is an example:

HB 0001

 Peake, Allen 141st   

Haleigh's Hope Act; enact

 

1/28/2015 - House Second Readers

 

Comments: Legalize cannibis and its derivatives for the purposes of treating cancer, glaucoma, and other medical conditions via nonsmoking delivery systems.

Summary: A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Chapter 34 of Title 43 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to physicians, acupuncture, physician assistants, cancer and glaucoma treatment, respiratory care, clinical perfusionists, and orthotics and prosthetics practice, so as to change certain provisions relating to the use of marijuana for treatment of cancer and glaucoma; to provide for regulated medicinal use of cannabis and derivatives thereof to treat certain conditions; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

To learn more about how a bill becomes law in Georgia, click below:

Tracking a Bill through the General Assembly

DATES TO REMEMBER

GCDD Advocacy Days and Disability Day at the Capitol 

• Kids Need Real Homes, Not Nursing Homes Day: Wednesday, February 4, 9-12 noon

• Employment First Day: Wednesday, February 11, 9-12 noon

• Youth Day: Thursday, February 19, 9-12 noon
To register for any of the Advocacy Days or Disability Day, click below:
http://www.ciclt.net/sn/events/e_signup.aspx?ClientCode=gcdd&E_ID=500061&RegType=ATT

Weekly GCDD legislative call: Every Monday at 9:30 a.m.  Dial 1-888-355-1249 and enter passcode 232357 at the prompt.

Also:

• The entire month of February is Self-Advocates Month at the Capitol

• Be There 4 Seniors Rally at the Capitol: February 5

• Alzheimer's Awareness Day at the Capitol: February 12

RESOURCES / QUICK LINKS

Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities 2015 Legislative Agenda

For More One Pagers for Advocates, click: 
http://www.unlockthewaitinglists.com/actionsalerts.html

For Tips on How to Talk to Your Legislator

Accessibility on Capitol Hill

House committee meeting calendar

Senate committee meeting calendar

Watch the Session Live!

Find Your Senator and Representative

Thank you from the GCDD Public Policy Team
Dawn Alford: Acting Public Policy Director
D'Arcy Robb: Public Policy Consultant - Employment First
Dave Zilles: Public Policy Consultant - Unlock the Waiting Lists - Parent Advocate

Download pdf version.   Download Text Version

Public Policy for the People: Volume 1, Issue 4 - February 13, 2015

Public Policy for the People NL: Vol 1, Issue 4, February 13, 2015

**House votes to transfer the Division of Aging Services to the Georgia Adult and Aging Services Agency (HB 86); Senate vote is pending.

**Employment First Advocacy Day a HUGE Success!

INSIDER HIGHLIGHTS

Over the course of the last week, the House really began to dig in to the "Big Budget" (FY2016). If you care about the Unlock budget ASKS, now is the time to speak up with your story (see Advocacy Corner section).

GCDD also held its Employment First Advocacy Day, Wednesday, February 11, and it was very well attended. The chapel at Central Presbyterian Church across from the Capitol was packed with advocates ready to speak up about why Georgia needs to adopt an Employment First policy.Then advocates went over to the Capitol and met with their legislators. Learn more about what an Employment First policy means and why it is needed here in Georgia; click on the following link: http://www.ciclt.net/ul/gcdd/EFGflyerfinal.pdf

The following photos, and related quote from two attendees who speak about their experience, highlight GCDD’s Employment First advocacy efforts.

pic1

pic2pic3R

"What a great opportunity and fun time we had today... It clearly was a day of positive energy from the advocates in the room to the beginning of Jenna finding her voice. Thanks for making the day so special for us!"

-Denise & Jenna Quigley

ADVOCACY OF THE WEEK

We need YOU to get involved TODAY.  Here are three things you can do this week:

  1. Are you or your loved one on the ICWP waiver? Are you or your loved one desperately waiting for a NOW/COMP waiver? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then read the Advocacy Corner section of this newsletter. We need you to send us your story to by Monday evening, February 16.
  2. Register for GCDD’s Youth Advocacy Day on Wednesday, February 19, and Disability Day at the Capitol, Thursday, March 5. Remember, your voice counts! To register, click the following link: http://www.ciclt.net/sn/events/e_signup.aspx?ClientCode=gcdd&E_ID=500061&RegType=ATT
  3. Mark your calendar to join us for the weekly GCDD Public Policy calls every Monday at 9:30 a.m. during the session.  Dial 1-888-355-1249 and enter 232357 at the prompt.

ADVOCACY CORNER

ICWP Waiver Recipients/Families - Send Unlock Your Story!

The Problem: Personal support - assistance with activities of daily living such as toileting, dressing, and bathing - is the core of the ICWP, and that rate is extremely low. Currently, the state rate for ICWP personal support is between $10.84 (level 1 care) and $14.77 (hospital level of care). This means that in most cases if you use an agency to hire your personal care attendants, they may get $8-9 per hour. Even if you self-direct, you might be able to pay only
$9-10 per hour. These amounts are far less than the $20 rate paid for personal care support in the other Georgia Medicaid waivers or in private home healthcare. (See the graph on the one pager at the link below for ICWP Rate Increase). Therefore, it is difficult to impossible to find qualified caregivers at this impossibly low rate.

The Solution: We need to gradually raise the ICWP Personal Support rate to $20 per hour so Georgians on ICWP and their families can find and keep adequate caregivers. We recommend phasing in this amount, starting with a three dollar per hour increase in fiscal year 2016, which would have a budget impact of $7,975,490.

Here is the link to the ICWP Rate Increase one pager document with information about what to ask the Legislature for.

What can you do? Send your story to by Monday evening, February 16. Unlock will share your story with the House Health Appropriations subcommittee (the Honorable Chairman Parrish) at the upcoming hearing for public comments (for time, date, and location see the Budget 101 section).

Template for the ICWP Letter:

Subject: Please support Unlock Request: Fund Personal Support Rate Increase for ICWP for FY 2016 to Begin to Address the Disparity

Dear Honorable Chairman Parrish:

<State your name, where you live, the name of the person on the ICWP waiver, your relationship to that person if it is your loved one. Tell how long you (or your loved one) have been on the ICWP waiver and the kinds of difficulties and challenges it causes your family to have such a low pay rate. Tell how raising the rate would help you and your family. Be sure to mention if it has impacted anyone's ability to go to work or if you have lost a job because of not being able to find/keep caregivers at the low rate.>

I respectfully request that you support the Unlock the Waiting List request to gradually raise the ICWP Personal Support rate to $20/hour so Georgians can find and keep adequate caregivers. We recommend phasing in this amount, starting with a $3 per hour increase in FY 2016 for an amount of $7,975,490.

Thank you for considering my testimony.

Sincerely,

<Give your full name, complete mailing address, phone number, and email address>


Desperately Waiting for NOW/COMP Waiver? - Send Unlock Your Story

The Problem: If you are a Georgian with a significant developmental disability, you have three choices. One is to spend your life in a facility, like a private intermediate care facility or nursing facility. Your second choice is to get a NOW or COMP waiver. Virtually everyone would choose a life with the waiver rather than be stuck in a facility. But there's a problem: just because you qualify for a waiver doesn't mean that you get one. And that's the third choice - to hang on as best you can, wait, hope, and pray for a waiver. In fact, over 7,500 Georgians and their families are desperately hanging on as they wait for a waiver. To see our one pager on the issue, click here.

The Solution: It's time to throw Georgia families a lifeline. We need to fund more NOW/COMP waivers to reduce the waiting list. The Unlock the Waiting List FY 2016 ASK is to fund 1,000 more DD waivers for Georgians most in need with a budget impact of $16,493,000.

What can you do? Send your story to by Monday evening, February 16. Unlock will share your story with the House Human Resources Appropriations subcommittee (the Honorable Chairwoman Dempsey) at the upcoming hearing for public comments (for time, date, and location see Budget 101 section).


Template for NOW/COMP Letter:

Subject: Please support the Unlock Request: Fund 1000 new NOW/COMP waivers

Dear Honorable Chairwoman Dempsey:

<State your name, where you live, the name of the person with a DD who needs a waiver, your relationship to that person. Tell how long you (or your loved one) have been waiting for services and the kinds of difficulties and challenges it causes your family not to have access to the needed care and services. Tell what a waiver would do to help your family. Be sure to mention if it has impacted anyone's ability to go to work or if you have lost a job because you have not had the waiver for your loved one.>

I respectfully request that you support the Unlock the Waiting List request to fund 1000 more NOW/COMP waivers for Georgians most in need for $16,493,000.

Thank you for considering my testimony.

Sincerely,

<Give your full name, complete mailing address, phone number, and email address>

*Advocacy Question of the Week*

Q: The thought of talking to my legislator intimidates me. I really care about issues facing the disability community. Can you offer me any resources so that I can learn how to talk to my legislator in person and maybe even testify at a hearing to give public testimony down at the Capitol?

A:  First, you can go to the Resources/Quick Links section of this newsletter and click on the "For Tips on How to Talk to Legislator" link. Second, you can watch this webinar (See link below - time is approx. 45 minutes in length) in which GCDD's very own Dawn Alford was a guest speaker and discusses how to talk to your state legislator and how to prepare to give testimony at a public hearing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOBhc0eRbKM&feature=youtu.be

BUDGET 101

This section of the newsletter highlights the activities and information regarding the Amended FY2015 (July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015) and FY2016 (July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016) budgets.

HB 75 (the appropriation bill for the FY2015 Amended Budget) was passed by the House on 1/29/15 and the Senate on 2/11/15. Now it goes to Conference Committee to resolve any differences. To see a list of these differences that must be resolved, click on the link below.

HB 75 FY2015 House and Senate Differences Tracking Document

Budget hearings were held the week of February 9th on the FY2016 budget for the Department of Community Health and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. There will be additional budget hearings the following week in which public testimony will be taken on FY 2016 budget asks. If you are interested in attending, please see the information below.

The House Appropriations Health Subcommittee (the Honorable Chairman Butch Parrish's subcommittee)
Date: Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Time: 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. - Public Comment on FY16 budget
Location: Room 341 Capitol
This committee has jurisdiction over the Department of Community Health budget. Note: Unlock the Waiting Lists! will be giving testimony regarding the ask to raise the rate on the ICWP waiver (see Advocacy Corner section of this newsletter).

The House Appropriations Human Resources Subcommittee (the Honorable Chairwoman Katie Dempsey's subcommittee)
Date: February 17, 2015
Time: 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Public Comment on FY16 budget
Location: Room 415 CLOB
This committee has jurisdiction over the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities budget. Note: Unlock the Waiting Lists! will be giving testimony regarding the ask to fund 1000 additional NOW/COMP waivers(see Advocacy Corner section of this newsletter).

The FY 2016 House budget tracking document presents the base budget, agency recommendations, and Governor's recommendation.

The key sections of the budget most relevant for people with disabilities are:
Section 15: Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities
Section 17:   Department of Community Health
Section 27:   Department of Human Services

To see the FY 2016 House budget tracking document, click the link below:

HB 76 FY2016 House Budget Tracking Document

The Governor's FY2015 Amended Budget and FY2016 Recommendations:

Governor's FY2015 Amended Budget

Amended FY2015 Budget Highlights

Governor's FY2016 Budget

Check out the Unlock the Waiting Lists! website for the most current information.
http://www.unlockthewaitinglists.com

BILLS

2015 Georgia Legislative Bills
This section will present a list of bills that GCDD is tracking by clicking on the link to the GCDD Legislative Report below. Please note the information within this section is current as of Wednesday, February 11, 2015 (cutoff for publishing).

GCDD Legislative Report

Note that the in the legislative report (see link above), both the House and Senate bills will be listed by Bill Number, Sponsor, Title Summary, and the most current activity followed by Comments and Summary of the Bill. Please note that the second line of each bill will reflect the date of the most recent action and what action was taken. You can also click on the bill number within the report to link to the actual bill language itself and get even more detailed information.

Below is a brief highlight of a few of the bills that passed through one chamber in the past two weeks. They must now go to the other chamber. To learn more about how a bill becomes law in Georgia, click the following link: Tracking a Bill through the General Assembly

Bills that Passed the House (must now go to the Senate)

HB62 Special needs students; waive certain qualifications for students whose parent is an active duty military service member stationed in Georgia within the previous year; provide
A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Code Section 20-2-2114 of the official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to qualifications for the scholarship program for special needs students, so as to waive certain qualifications for students whose parent is an active duty military service member stationed in Georgia within the previous year; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

HB75 Supplemental appropriations; State Fiscal Year July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015
A BILL to be entitled an Act to be entitled an Act to amend an Act making and providing appropriations for the State Fiscal Year beginning July 1, 2014, and ending June 30, 2015,
known as the "General Appropriations Act," Act No. 632, approved April 28, 2014 (Ga L. 2014, Volume One, Appendix, commencing at page 1 of 139), so as to make, provide, and change certain appropriations for the operation of the state government and its departments, boards, bureaus, commissions, institutions, and other agencies, for the university system, common schools, counties, municipalities, and political subdivisions, for all other governmental activities, projects, and undertakings authorized by law, and for all leases, contracts, agreements, and grants authorized by law; to provide for the control and administration of funds; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

HB86 Social services; provide for transfer of the Division of Aging Services to the Georgia Adult and Aging Services Agency; provisions
A BILL to be entitled to Act to amend Chapter 6 of Title 49 of the Official Code of Georgia  Annotated, relating to services for the aging, so as to provide for the transfer of the Division of Aging Services to the Georgia Adult and Aging Services Agency; to provide for definitions; to provide for the Georgia Adult and Aging Services Board; to provide for membership, powers, and duties; to provide for an executive director; to provide for transfer of rights, duties, and obligations; to amend various provisions of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated so as to make conforming changes; to provide for legislative findings; to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

HB91 Education; eliminate Georgia High School Graduation Test; provisions
A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to the elementary and secondary education, so as to eliminate the Georgia High School Graduation Test as a requirement for purposes of graduation; to provide procedures for former students who did not pass one or more portions of the Georgia High School Graduation Test to petition to obtain a high school diploma; to provide for notice of such petition option; to provide for changes for purposes of conformity; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

Bills that Passed the Senate (must now go to the House)

HB75 Supplemental appropriations; State Fiscal Year July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015
A BILL to be entitled an Act to be entitled an Act to amend an Act making and providing appropriations for the State Fiscal Year beginning July 1, 2014, and ending June 30, 2015,
known as the "General Appropriations Act," Act No. 632, approved April 28, 2014 (Ga L. 2014, Volume One, Appendix, commencing at page 1 of 139), so as to make, provide, and change certain appropriations for the operation of the state government and its departments, boards, bureaus, commissions, institutions, and other agencies, for the university system, common schools, counties, municipalities, and political subdivisions, for all other governmental activities, projects, and undertakings authorized by law, and for all leases, contracts, agreements, and grants authorized by law; to provide for the control and administration of funds; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

SB1 Insurance; provide for certain insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorders
A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Code Section 33-24-59.10 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to insurance coverage for autism, so as to provide for certain insurance coverage of autism spectrum disorders; to provide for definitions; to provide for limitations; to provide for premium cap and other conditions; to provide for applicability; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

SB3 'Supporting and Strengthening Families Act'; power of attorney from parent to another person; care of minor child; provide for
A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Chapter 9 of Title 19 of the Official Code of Georgia
Annotated, relating to child custody proceedings, so as to provide for the creation, authorization, procedure, revocation, and termination of a power of attorney from a parent to another person for the temporary delegation of certain power and authority for the care of a minor child; to provide a short title; to provide for definitions; to provide for legislative findings; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

DATES TO REMEMBER

The latest adjournment resolution set the legislative schedule for the rest of this session. To see it, click here.

GCDD Youth Day at the Capitol: Thursday, February 19, 9-12 noon

GCDD Disability Day at the Capitol: Thursday, March 5
To register for either Youth Advocacy Day and/or Disability Day, click the link below: http://www.ciclt.net/sn/events/e_signup.aspx?ClientCode=gcdd&E_ID=500061&RegType= ATT

Weekly GCDD legislative call: Every Monday at 9:30 a.m.  Dial 1-888-355-1249 and enter passcode 232357 at the prompt.

Also:
The entire month of February is Self-Advocates Month at the Capitol.

The Georgia Division of Developmental Disabilities is planning a series of public forums to collect comments and suggestions for the upcoming NOW/COMP waiver rewrite. See the list of remaining scheduled forums below. Visit the link below to get more information on how to register, to view the presentation slides that are being shown at the events, or to submit comments via an online form: http://dbhdd.georgia.gov/nowcomp-community-forums

Savannah: February 17
Tifton: February 24
Athens: February 2

RESOURCES / QUICK LINKS

Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities 2015 Legislative Agenda

For More One Pagers for Advocates, click: http://www.unlockthewaitinglists.com/actionsalerts.html

For Tips on How to Talk to Your Legislator

Accessibility on Capitol Hill

House committee meeting calendar

Senate committee meeting calendar

Watch the Session Live!

Find Your Senator and Representative

Thank you from the GCDD Public Policy Team
Dawn Alford: Acting Public Policy Director
D'Arcy Robb: Public Policy Consultant - Employment First
Dave Zilles: Public Policy Consultant - Unlock the Waiting Lists - Parent Advocate

Join our Advocacy Network Today!

Download pdf version.   Download Text Version

Public Policy for the People: Volume 1, Issue 5 - February 27, 2015

Public Policy for the People NL: Vol 1, Issue 5, February 27, 2015

**House adds 75 new NOW/COMP waiver slots and adds 50 cent increase to ICWP

**HB 1 (Haleigh's Hope) passes the House 157-2

INSIDER HIGHLIGHTS

Despite the winter weather this week, the Georgia General Assembly has been hard at work. This week the House passed its version of the budget, and it now goes to the Senate where they will work on their changes. Thanks to the help of our grassroots advocates, the House funded 75 new NOW/COMP waiver slots and a 50 cent per hour increase for personal support services in ICWP. Read more about this in the Budget 101 section and don't forget to thank your representatives for their support (see #1 in Advocacy of the Week).

On Wednesday, February 25, HB 1, the medical cannabis bill known as Haleigh's Hope, overwhelmingly passed the House with a vote of 157-2. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Allen Peake (R-141), received a standing ovation, and Speaker Ralston congratulated him on his efforts. As it stands, the bill allows a maximum of 5% THC and covers nine conditions: cancer, ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease), seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, mitochondrial disease, fibromyalgia, Parkinson's disease, and sickle cell disease.

To see what Rep. Peake, himself, has to say about his bill, click here.

Finally, our annual Disability Day is next week on March 5th. Don't miss your last chance to sign up online for this event today! See Advocacy of the Week #2 for more details.

APublicPolicyforthePeopleVol1Number5From left to right: Yvette Pegues, Ms. Wheelchair USA 2014/15 and Representative Katie M. Dempsey (R-13)DVOCACY CORNER

On Thursday, February 19, we had our youth advocacy day, the fifth and final one of this session. Despite the frigid temperatures on this day, we had a small, but dedicated, group of youth who advocated with their legislators on issues facing young Georgians. They discussed the need for an Employment First policy, the need for more DD waivers, and more high school diploma options for people with disabilities so folks can get real jobs in the community or even attend college.

*Advocacy Question of the Week*

Q: In the February 14th issue of Public Policy for the People, we told you how to fill out a form and call your legislator to the ropes during the legislative session when you don't have an appointment. But do you know the single most important thing you can put on the form calling your legislator to the ropes?

A:  Along with your name and contact information, ALWAYS let them know that you are their constituent first and foremost!

BUDGET 101

This section of the newsletter highlights the activities and information regarding the Amended FY2015 (July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015) and FY2016 (July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016) budgets.

FY2015 Amended Budget Update: The Governor signed HB75 (the appropriations bill for the FY2015 Amended Budget) on Thursday, February 19, 2015.

FY2016 Budget Update: On Tuesday February 17, public hearings were held where eight advocates testified and over 75 letters of support were submitted to the appropriations' subcommittees in support of the Unlock asks to raise the rate on the ICWP and add new NOW/COMP waivers. Thank you to all of you that helped with this effort. It paid off!

On Wednesday, February 25, the House Appropriations Committee approved their version of the FY 2016 Budget. See highlights below and note that the first two bolded budget items listed are part of the Unlock Ask that we got due to YOUR tremendous advocacy efforts:

DCH House Budget (line 17.7.12):Increase funds to provide a $0.50 per hour increase for personal Support Services covered under the Independent Care Waiver (ICWP) - $1,329,428.

DBHDD House Budget (line 15.2.7):Increase funds for 75 additional slots for NOW and COMP - $1,124,226.

DCH House Budget (line 17.10.8): Implement the scheduled increase of the employer contribution rate for non-certificated public school employees - $102,825,000.

DHS House Budget (line 27.11.6): Increase funds for Home and Community Services - $1,500,000.

Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency House Budget (line 27.26.7): Increase funds to assist training and employment support for Georgians with disabilities - $900,000.

To see the full version of the House budget, click below where it says "FY2016 Tracking House Version." The key sections of the budget most relevant to people with disabilities are:

Section 15: Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities
Section 17: Department of Community Health
Section 27: Department of Human Services

FY 2016 Tracking House Version

Now the budget goes to the Senate where we need to KEEP what we have gotten in the House and hopefully ADD more dollars to the budget for the Unlock ASKS for ICWP and NOW/COMP.

Check out the Unlock website for the most current budget information: http://unlockthewaitinglists.com/

BILLS

2015 Legislative Bills
2015 Georgia Legislative Bills This section will present a list of bills that GCDD is tracking by clicking on the link to the GCDD Legislative Report below. Please note the information within this section is current as of Wednesday, February 25, 2015 (cutoff for publishing).

Note that in the legislative report below, both the House and Senate bills will be listed by Bill Number, Sponsor, Title Summary, and the most current activity followed by Comments and Summary of the Bill. Please note that the second line of each bill will reflect the date of the most recent action and what action was taken on this bill.

You can also click on the bill number within the report to link to the actual bill language itself and get even more detailed information.

GCDD Legislative Report

For more information about the process a bill must take to become law in Georgia, click on: Tracking a Bill through the General Assembly

DATES TO REMEMBER

The latest adjournment resolution set the legislative schedule for the rest of this session. To see it, click here.

Weekly GCDD legislative call: Every Monday at 9:30 a.m.  Dial 1-888-355-1249 and enter passcode 232357 at the prompt.


Children's Day at the Capitol: Wednesday, March 4
http://Georgiavoices.org/event/childrens-day-capitol-2/?instance_id=403

GCDD Disability Day at the Capitol: Thursday, March 5
To register for either Youth Advocacy Day and/or Disability Day, click the link below: http://www.ciclt.net/sn/events/e_signup.aspx?ClientCode=gcdd&E_ID=500061&RegType=ATT

NOW/COMP Waiver Rewrite Virtual Meetings: March 5
Choose either 2-3 pm OR 5-6 pm. RSVP by March 5th at 9am to
Please indicate which section you will be attending and if you are a parent, self-advocate, or provider.

Department of Community Health Board Meeting: March 12
http://dch.georgia.gov/board-meeting-schedule-0

DD Advisory Council Meeting: Friday, March 20, 9:30 am  2:30 pm; location TBA

Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Board Meeting: April 23
http://dbhdd.georgia.gov/2015-dbhdd-board-meetings

RESOURCES / QUICK LINKS

Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities 2015 Legislative Agenda

For More One Pagers for Advocates, click: http://www.unlockthewaitinglists.com/actionsalerts.html

Golden Rules of Legislative Visits

Webinar - For Tips on How to Talk to Your Legislator

Accessibility on Capitol Hill

House committee meeting calendar

Senate committee meeting calendar

Watch the Session Live!

Find Your Senator and Representative

Thank you from the GCDD Public Policy Team
Dawn Alford: Acting Public Policy Director
D'Arcy Robb: Public Policy Consultant - Employment First
Dave Zilles: Public Policy Consultant - Unlock the Waiting Lists - Parent Advocate

Join our Advocacy Network Today!

Download pdf version.   Download Text Version

Public Policy for the People: Volume 1, Issue 6 - March 13, 2015

Public Policy for the People NL: Vol 1, Issue 6, March 13, 2015

****Breaking news: New House Resolution to create an Employment First policy Joint Study Committee!!

**The Georgia Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Consortium (GAIPSEC) thanks the Georgia General Assembly for its support of Inclusive Post-Secondary Programs in Georgia!

**The rain didn't dampen the annual Disability Day crowd - dedicated advocates gathered for this annual event at its new location at Liberty Plaza across from the Capitol where Governor Deal addressed everyone
(see Advocacy Corner section).

INSIDER HIGHLIGHTS

As you know, together with you, our grassroots advocates, we have been hard at work this session educating policymakers on the need for an Employment First Policy in Georgia. We are so excited to report that on Wednesday, March 11, 2015,  Georgia House Resolution 642: Creating the Joint Study Committee on Postsecondary Education and Employment Options for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities was introduced by Representatives Dempsey of the 13th, Epps of the 144th, Harden of the 148th, Cooper of the 43rd, Oliver of the 82nd, and Rep. Terry England (to see the resolution in its entirety, see the Bills section). GCDD wishes to extend a very special THANK YOU to Rep. Katie Dempsey for her leadership on Employment First and this study committee. If these are your legislators, please contact them to thank them for their support of Inclusive Post-Secondary Education and Employment First (see Advocacy of the Week section).

Employment First means that employment should be the first and preferred option for all people, regardless of their disability. Under an Employment First policy, employment in the general workforce at or above minimum wage is the first and preferred option for all working age citizens with
disabilities.

Also exciting to report: on Monday, March 9, the Georgia Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Consortium (GAIPSEC:www.gaipsec.org) along with students and staff from various inclusive postsecondaryeducation (IPSE) programs in Georgia gathered at the Capitol to thank the Georgia General Assembly for its appropriations support in the Georgia state budget over the past two years. Senators Butch Miller of the 49th, Hill of the 4th, Millar of the 40th, Tippens of the 37th, Wilkinson of the 50th and Gooch of the 51st introduced Senate Resolution 276 to commend the Georgia Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Consortium (GAIPSEC) for its work to create opportunities for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Georgia who have historically not had access to postsecondary education opportunities (to see the resolution in its entirety, see the Bills section). If these are your legislators, please contact them to thank them for their support of Inclusive Post- Secondary Education in Georgia (see Advocacy of the Week section). To see how these programshave grown in Georgia thanks to the legislative support, click here.

GCDD also wishes to thank Rep. John Burns and Rep. Katie Dempsey for recognizing these students in the House through a morning order and for allowing the opportunity for GAIPSEC to thank the House for its support of IPSE programs in Georgia (see  Advocacy of the Week section).

See photos below from Monday's IPSE thank you event and what some participants had to say:

east georgia state college choice programREast Georgia State College CHOICE program:

From left to right: Dr. Donald Avery, EGSC VP Student Affairs; Tiffany Guthrie, EGSC CHOICE program student; Kasey Hayes, EGSC CHOICE program student; Theresa Davis, EGSC CHOICE Program Director; Sharaun Bright, EGSC CHOICE program student; Sen. Jack Hill; Sherrie Helms, EGSC Director of Student Conduct; Susanna Miller, GAIPSEC Statewide Coordinator, Center for Leadership in Disability; Dawn Alford, Acting Public Policy Director, GCDD.

"It was a wonderful opportunity to see just how the Senate and House of Representativeswork to make things happen in Georgia" - Tiffany Guthrie, EGSC CHOICE program student

"I am happy to have had the opportunity to personally thank the senators andrepresentatives of Georgia for helping me have the opportunity to be a college student"- Sharaun Bright, EGSC CHOICE program student.

To learn more about East Georgia State College CHOICE program, click here.

kennesaw state academy for inclusive learning programR2Kennesaw State University Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth program:

From left to right: (back row) Will Oglesby, Dr. Karla Wade, Katherine Rigsby, Chris Brown, Derek James, Haden Keen, Sen. Butch Miller, Eric Jacobson, Dr. Ibrahim Elsawy, Susanna Miller. (front row) Charlie Miller, Phillip Modisett, Natalie Gomez, Ava Cutler, Anna Mason, Tyler McDonald.

"This day was an awesome day because I got to meet my Representative Jan Jones fromRoswell. It was a once in a lifetime experience" - Ava Cutler, Kennesaw State University Academy for Inclusive Learning student.

To learn more about Kennesaw State University's Academy for Inclusive Learning, click here.

columbus state GOALS programRColumbus State University GOALS program:

From left to right: Amy Labus, Peer Mentor; Christy Odom, student; Shawna Johnson, student; Kimberly Fussell, Peer mentor.

"This day was an awesome day because I got to meet my Representative Jan Jones fromRoswell. It was a once in a lifetime experience" - Ava Cutler, Kennesaw State University Academy for Inclusive Learning student.

To learn more about Columbus State University's GOAL program, click here.

Advocacy of the Week

We need YOU to get involved TODAY. Here are some things that you can do this week:

  1. Please be sure to thank Representatives Dempsey of the 13th, Epps of the 144th, Harden of the 148th, Cooper of the 43rd, Oliver of the 82nd, and others for creating the Joint Study Committee in  HR 642 and for their support of Inclusive Post-Secondary Education and Employment First. Contact information for Georgia Representatives can be found alphabetically at the following website: http://www.house.ga.gov/Representatives/en-US/HouseMembersList.aspx
  2. Please be sure to thank Senators Butch Miller of the 49th, Hill of the 4th, Millar of the 40th, Tippins of the 37th, Wilkinson of the 50th and others for introducing  SR 276, and for their support of Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Programs in Georgia. Contact information for Georgia Senators can be found alphabetically at the following website: http://www.senate.ga.gov/SENATORS/en-US/SenateMembersList.aspx
  3. Don't forget to thank Rep. Jon Burns and Rep. Katie Dempsey for their morning order on Monday, March 9 on the House floor, which recognized the Georgia Inclusive Post-Secondary education programs in Georgia. There contact information can be found here: http://www.house.ga.gov/Representatives/en-US/HouseMembersList.aspx
  4. Mark your calendar to join us for the weekly GCDD Public Policy calls every Monday at 9:30 a.m. during the session. Dial 1-888-355-1249 and enter 232357 at the prompt.


gov deal speaks at disability dayRGovernor Deal addresses the crowd at the 2015 Disability Day.

ADVOCACY CORNER

On Thursday, March 5, GCDD held its annual Disability Day at the Capitol at its new location of Liberty Plaza. Though it was cold and rainy, the weather could not dampen the spirits of this dedicated bunch of advocates! As part of the day, an advocacy 101 training was held along with other events at the Freight Depot, after which, many advocates went to Capitol to advocate for more DD waivers and an ICWP rate increase with the Senate. Governor Deal was a featured speaker at the rally. To see photos from the rally and a copy of the Governor's speech, see below.

Click Here to Download the Governor's Speech

BUDGET 101

This section of the newsletter highlights the activities and information regarding Amended FY2015 (July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015) and FY2016 (July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016) budgets.
 
FY2016 Budget Update: On Friday, February 27, several Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Hearings, including Human Development and Community Health Subcommittees, were held. Commissioner Frank Berry of DBHDD, Executive Eric Jacobson, of the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, and other agencies presented their budgets to Chairman Unterman of the Human Development subcommittee, and answered question of the committee members. The Senate has been working behind the scenes on their budget recommendations and we anticipate learning the Senate's version of the FY 2016 budget next week. We hope that the Senate will KEEP what the House put in and hopefully ADD more dollars to the budget for the Unlock ASKS for ICWP and NOW/COMP. Stay tuned for updates.

What the House put in the DCH budget (line 87.12):
Increase funds to provide a $0.50 per hour rate increase for Personal Support Services
covered under the Independent Care Waiver Program (ICWP) - $1,329,428.

What the House up in the DBHDD House Budget (line 55.8):
Increase funds for 75 additional slots for New Options Waiver (NOW) and Comprehensive
Supports Waiver Program (COMP) - $1,124,226.

To see the Senate budget documents for the FY 2016 budget, click on the link below. The key sections of the budget most relevant to people with disabilities are:

Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities
Department of Community Health
Department of Human Services

http://www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/en-US/AppropriationsDocuments.aspx

Check out the Unlock website for the most current budget information. http://unlockthewaitinglists.com/

BILLS

2015 Georgia Legislative Bills

This section will present a list of bills that GCDD is tracking by clicking on the link to the GCDDLegislative Report below. Please note the information within this section is current as of Wednesday, March 11, 2015 (cutoff for publishing). Today, Friday, March 13, is legislative day 30, otherwise knownas crossover day. General bills and constitutional amendment resolutions that do not pass their chamber of origin by the 30th legislative day become inactive until this legislative session resumes in 2016.

Note that in the legislative report below, both the House and Senate bills will be listed by Bill Number, Sponsor, Title Summary, and the most current activity followed by Comments and Summary of the Bill. Please note that the second line of each bill will reflect the date of the most recentaction and what action was taken on this bill.

You can also click on the bill number within the report to link to the actual bill language itself and geteven more detailed information.

GCDD Legislative Report

Bill and Resolution Highlights

SR 276: GCDD thanks Senator Butch Miller and all his cosponsors for Senate Resolution 276, whichwas read to the Senate on Monday, March 9, 2015. SR 276 commends the Georgia Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Consortium (GAIPSEC) for its work to create opportunities for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Georgia who have historically not had access to postsecondary education opportunities. Be sure to thank Senator Miller and his cosponsors for thisresolution and for the opportunity to thank the Senate for its support of Inclusive Post-Secondary Education programs in Georgia!!

To read the entire Senate resolution, click here.

HR 642: GCDD also wishes to thank Rep. Katie Dempsey and all her cosponsors for HR 642 to create a Joint Study Committee on Postsecondary Education and Employment options for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. This is an exciting opportunity to study the benefits of what Employment First Policy would mean to Georgians with disabilities! Be sure to thank Rep. Dempsey and her cosponsors for this joint study committee today!!

To read the entire House resolution, click here.

For more information about the process a bill must take to become law in Georgia, click on:Tracking a Bill through the General Assembly

For more information about how a bill is passed in the Georgia Legislature, click below:
http://www.senate.ga.gov/sos/Documents/habbal.pdf

DATES TO REMEMBER

The latest adjournment resolution set the legislative schedule for the rest of this session. To see it, click here.

Weekly GCDD legislative call: Every Monday at 9:30 a.m.  Dial 1-888-355-1249 and enter passcode 232357 at the prompt.


DD Advisory Council Meeting: Friday, March 20, 9:30 am  2:30 pm; location TBA

Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Board Meeting: April 23
http://dbhdd.georgia.gov/2015-dbhdd-board-meetings

RESOURCES / QUICK LINKS

Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities 2015 Legislative Agenda

For More One Pagers for Advocates, click: http://www.unlockthewaitinglists.com/actionsalerts.html

Golden Rules of Legislative Visits

Webinar - For Tips on How to Talk to Your Legislator

Accessibility on Capitol Hill

House committee meeting calendar

Senate committee meeting calendar

Watch the Session Live!

Find Your Senator and Representative

Thank you from the GCDD Public Policy Team
Dawn Alford: Acting Public Policy Director
D'Arcy Robb: Public Policy Consultant - Employment First
Nick Perry: Public Policy Intern

Join our Advocacy Network Today!

Download pdf version.   Download Text Version 

Public Policy for the People: Volume 1, Issue 7 - March 31, 2015

Public Policy for the People NL: Vol 1, Issue 7, March 31, 2015

**Conference committee met Monday, March 30 late in the day. Check out this issue's Budget 101 section to see the status of ICWP rate increase and number of NOW/COMP waivers!

**Medical Cannabis Bill (HB 1), known as Haleigh's Hope, passed the House 160-1 last week. It is now on its way to the Governor to sign!

**Last week it was announced that the Autism Insurance Bill (SB 1) would be amended to HB 429 when the House and Senate insurance committees reach an agreement.

INSIDER HIGHLIGHTS

In the last couple weeks, there has been a flurry of work to get as many bills as possible through the bill process and passed in the final countdown to the end of session. Be sure to read the Bills section to get more details.

Late in the day Monday, March 30, the conference committee met to announce the compromises they had reached in the FY 2016 budget. The result of the Unlock requests are as follows: an agreement to keep $.75 per hour increase for Personal Support Services. Since the Senate had agreed with the House, thankfully the 75 new NOW/COMP waivers were left in the budget!! See the Budget 101 section for more details.

Don't forget! Be on the lookout for our legislative wrap-up edition of this newsletter late next week to get the final outcome from this session!!

Advocacy of the Week

We need YOU to get involved TODAY. Here are some things that you can do this week:

  1. Mark your calendar to join us for the GCDD Public Policy wrap-up call Monday, April 6 at 9:30 a.m. Dial 1-888-355-1249 and enter 232357 at the prompt.
  2. Please email or call each conference committee member to thank them for their support regarding the Unlock the Waiting Lists budget ASKS. The message is simple: "Thank you so much for supporting Unlock the Waiting Lists and keeping the 75 additional NOW/COMP waiver slots in the DBHDD budget and for keeping a $0.75 increase for Personal Support Services for the ICWP waiver in the DCH budget." Be sure to give your name, complete mailing address, and contact information. Be sure to cc: on each note.

Senator Shafer - ; 404.656.0048
Senator Cowsert - ; 404.463.1366
Senator Hill - ; 404.463.2247

Representative Jones - ; 404.656.5072
Representative Powell - ; 404.656.5103
Representative England - ; 404.463.2247


ADVOCACY CORNER

As the 2015 Georgia General Assembly nears “sine die," we look back at the amazing advocacy that we have done during this session. Without you raising your voice alongside us, we could not have accomplished the great things we did.

GCDD held five separate advocacy days leading up to our annual Disability Day at the Capitol: We Need Waivers Day; ICWP Raise the Rate Day; Kids Need Real Homes, Not Nursing Homes Day; Employment First Day; and Youth Day. These five advocacy days and our Disability Day at the Capitol were a huge success!

"People begin to recognize their own power when they join with others and work together to bring about change in their communities" - Bob Kafka

Take a look back at some of the great moments from this session.

Disability Day 2015Advocates braved the rain and cold to have their voices heard during the 17th Annual Disability Day at the Capitol.

Disability day advocatesAdvocates on the steps after successful Capitol visits with legislators.

disability advocate trainingAdvocates training before going on legislative visits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

caroline and katie dempseyCaroline Dempsey, seen with Representative Katie Dempsey, working as a House page.

caroline dempsey and tom kirbyCaroline Dempsey with Representative Tom Kirby.

 

 

 

 


If you know someone 12 or older that would like to serve as a House or Senate page, please click the links below. Pages will be paid $10 per day, and have the opportunity to learn what goes on behind the scenes at the Georgia General Assembly.
House Page Program
Senate Page Program
"The youth are the hope of our future" - Jose Rizal

BUDGET 101

This section of the newsletter highlights the activities and information regarding Amended FY2015 (July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015) and FY2016 (July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016) budgets.

Both the House and Senate have passed their versions of the FY 2016 Budget. As of the publication cut- off for this issue, Monday, March 30, the conference committee, which consists of members of both chambers, met late in the day to disclose the compromises to which they have agreed for the FY 2016 budget. The budget document that elaborates on these agreements of the conference committee is not available as of the release of this newsletter. To see a comprehensive list of differences between the House and Senate budgets, please click on the following link:
House and Senate Differences Document

The table below progress of the specific Unlock asks through the budget process in the 2015 Georgia General Assembly.

Unlock Original ASK for ICWP:  Governor's FY 2016 recommendation:  House budget version:  Senate budget version:  Conference committee:  Unlock Original ASK for NOW/COMP:  Governor's FY 2016 recommendation:  House budget version:  Senate budget version:  Conference committee:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Unlock Original ASK for ICWP: 
Gradually raise the ICWP Personal Support Services rate to $20/hr. beginning with a $3/hr. increase for FY 2016 $7,975,490
Governor's FY 2016 recommendation:  No new ICWP increase $0
House budget version: $.50 per hour rate increase for Personal Support Services covered under the ICWP $1,329,428
Senate budget version: $1.00 per hour rate increase for Personal Support Services covered under the ICWP for Direct Support Professionals $2,658,856
Conference committee: $0.75 per hour rate increase for Personal Support Services covered under ICWP Not available as of newsletter release
Unlock Original ASK for NOW/COMP: 1,000 new NOW/COMP waivers for Georgians most in need $16,493,000
Governor's FY 2016 recommendation: No new DD waivers $0
House budget version:  Increase funds for 75 additional slots for the NOW and COMP waivers $1,124,226
Senate budget version: Senate agreed with House $1,124,226
Conference committee: No changes from conference committee - 75 slot for NOW and COMP $1,124,226

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Check out the Unlock website for the most current budget information. http://unlockthewaitinglists.com/

BILLS

2015 Georgia Legislative Bills

As we approach the end of session, keep in mind that any bills that do not make it this year are still alive for consideration next year during the second session of this two-year cycle. Bills that do pass both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly will move on to the Governor. He will have 40 days in which to sign the bill into law or veto it. If he does not act on a bill within that time frame, it will become law.

Note that in the legislative report, both the House and Senate bills will be listed by Bill Number, Sponsor, Title Summary, and the most current activity followed by Comments and Summary of the Bill. Please note that the second line of each bill will reflect the date of the most recent action and what action was taken on this bill. You can also click on the bill number within the report to link to the actual bill language itself and get even more detailed information.

Bill and Resolution Highlights: below are the statuses of some bills of interest to the disability community

HR 642: This resolution, which creates a House study committee on Employment First and Post- secondary Education options for people with disabilities, has been passed by the House. We anticipate a study committee will be appointed after session ends, and are exploring ways to get the Senate  involved. For more information on Employment First or to join the Employment First Coalition, please contact Employment First Co-coordinator D'Arcy Robb at .

HB 1: This legislation sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake (R-141) allows the limited use of medical cannabis oil (no more than 5% THC, to possess no more than 20 fl. oz.) to treat eight disorders: cancer, Crohn's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS), mitochondrial disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, seizure disorders, and sickle cell. Before Georgians can begin using CBD oil, the state will still have to set up the Low THC Oil Patient Registry. The Department of Public Health is charged with establishing procedures, rules, and regulations to assist doctors in making the certifications that a patient has a qualifying condition.

HB 91: Monday, March 30, Governor Deal signed HB 91 into law. This bill eliminates the Georgia High School Graduation Test as a requirement. Up to 8,000 students that were unable to pass the Graduation Test but performed satisfactorily in their classes will now have the opportunity to receive their high school diplomas.

HB 92 and SB 242: This legislation would allow individuals whose employers provide sick days the option of using up to five days to care for family members. The lobbying efforts for this are led by the Georgia Job Family Collaborative (http://www.gaworkingfamilies.org/). HB 92, sponsored by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-31) stalled in the House Industry and Labor Committee. Lead sponsor Sen. Mike Williams "dropped" SB 242 which will allow for a decision in 2016.

HB 86: House Bill 86, which transfers the Division of Aging Services (DAS) from the Department of Human Services (DHS) to the Georgia Adult and Aging Services Agency, was passed by both chambers.

SB 1 and HB 429: It was announced during a press conference that SB 1, the autism insurance bill known as Ava's Law, sponsored by Sen. Charlie Bethel (R-54), would be attached to HB 429 with some modifications. Prior to attaching the autism bill language, HB 429, sponsored by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-164), prevents health benefit plans from restricting coverage for prescribed treatment based upon an insured's diagnosis with a terminal condition. This announcement comes after an agreement was reached between the chairmen of the House and Senate insurance committees that will allow some children with autism to be covered by insurance. Both chairmen expect that the combined bill will easily pass the Senate, and the modified bill should be accepted by the House. Many disability advocates are passionate supporters of Ava's law and the therapies it would cover, but there are other advocates who object to the bill, particularly its inclusion of ABA therapy.

For more information about the process a Bill must take to become law in Georgia, click on Tracking a Bill through the General Assembly

For more information about how a Bill is passed in the Georgia Legislature, click here.

DATES TO REMEMBER

The last two days of the legislative session: Tuesday, March 31 and Thursday, April 2.

The Final GCDD Legislative Wrap-up call of the session: Monday, April 6 at 9:30 a.m. Dial 1-888- 355-1249 and enter passcode 232357 at the prompt.

Department of Community Health Board Meeting: Thursday, April 9

Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Board Meeting: Thursday, April 23
http://dbhdd.georgia.gov/2015-dbhdd-board-meetings

RESOURCES / QUICK LINKS

Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities 2015 Legislative Agenda

For More One Pagers for Advocates, click: http://www.unlockthewaitinglists.com/actionsalerts.html

Golden Rules of Legislative Visits

Webinar - For Tips on How to Talk to Your Legislator

Accessibility on Capitol Hill

House committee meeting calendar

Senate committee meeting calendar

Watch the Session Live!

Find Your Senator and Representative

Thank you from the GCDD Public Policy Team
Dawn Alford: Acting Public Policy Director
D'Arcy Robb: Public Policy Consultant - Employment First
Nick Perry: Public Policy Intern

Join our Advocacy Network Today!

Download pdf version.   Download Text Version

       
       
       
       

Public Policy for the People: Volume 1, Issue 8 - April 10, 2015

Public Policy for the People V1N8 PDF

**Special Sine Die edition of Public Policy for the People: highlights of the budget and bills
**Look for the next edition of Public Policy for the People in the summer!

INSIDER HIGHLIGHTS

On late Thursday night, April 2 (okay so technically it was a few minutes past midnight), the Georgia General Assembly adjourned "Sine Die," which means that they adjourned without any future date being designated. This concludes the first year of the two year 2015-16 legislative cycle. Any bills that did not pass this year will still be alive for consideration for the 2016 session. The 2016 Georgia General Assembly will convene on Monday, January 11, the second Monday in January.

Remember, while Public Policy for the People comes out more regularly during the Georgia General Assembly with more of a legislative focus, it will come out quarterly the rest of the year and feature a more wide range of public policy and advocacy issues of interest to the disability community. So be sure to look for the summer edition of Public Policy for the People.

In the last issue we featured some photos from this legislative session. Here are some more great moments:

Take a look back at some of the great moments from this session:

publicpolicyphoto1

Advocates march on Disability Day to commemorate the ADA.

 Governor Deal with disability advocates.

Senator John Albers speaks at Disability Day.

Senator Gail Davenport speaks to advocates during GCDD Advocacy Days.

 publicpolicyphoto5R2

publicpolicyphoto7

publicpolicyphoto8

publicpolicyphoto10

Rep. Katie Dempsey and Miss Wheelchair USA Yvette Pegues

publicpolicyphoto9R

publicpolicyphoto11

Advocacy Actions

The next Georgia General Assembly may not be until next year, but here are some simple things YOU can do right now to help make a positive impact for Georgians with disabilities.

  1. If you have no already done so, please email EACH conference committee member to thank them for their support regarding the Unlock the Waiting Lists! budget ASKS. The message is simple: "Thank you so much for supporting Unlock the Waiting Lists and keeping the 75 additional NOW/COMP waiver slots in the DBHDD budget and for keeping a $0.75 increase for Personal Support Services for the ICWP waiver in the DCH budget." Be sure to give your name, complete mailing address, and contact information. Be sure to cc: on each note.

    Senator Shafer -
    Senator Cowsert -
    Senator Hill -

    Representative Jones -
    Representative Powell -
    Representative England -

  2. This year's legislative session may be over, but advocacy is year-round. Get to know your state Senator and Representative in the off season in their home district. Call them and invite them to lunch or coffee. If there is a disability event going on in your area that you will be attending, invite them to come and meet you there. If you are or person with a disability or someone who cares about someone with a disability, help educate your legislator about what your day-to-day life is like, what your concerns are, and your ideas of what you think will make Georgia better. Look up your legislators here: http://www.openstates.org

  3. If you are interested in joining the Employment First Coalition, please contact Employment First Co-Coordinator D'Arcy Robb at

    Forward this newsletter to a friend and invite them to join the GCDD Advocacy Network so they too can receive advocacy communications from GCDD. Tell them to go to www.gcdd.org, scroll down to the bottom of the page, click on "Join Our Advocacy Network," put in an email address, and follow the instructions. Be sure to select to receive the Public Policy alerts and Unlock the Waiting Lists! alerts. Please send an email to if you have any problems with this process or if you think you should already be receiving these alerts but aren't getting them.


FY 2016 Budget Highlights

This section of the newsletter highlights the activities and information regarding FY2016. The FY2016 budget goes from July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016.

During the last week of session, both Houses passed the final version of the $21.8 billion FY2016 budget that had been agreed upon by the Conference Committee. To see the budget document that gives the House and Senate budget differences and agreements reached by the conference committee on those differences, please click on the following link. Differences Report

To see the entire 251 pages of the FY 2016 budget document, click on the following link: Complete Budget

Through our advocacy efforts, Unlock succeeded in getting over $3.1 million added to the FY 2016 Georgia state budget for people with disabilities. Therefore, we want to thank YOU, our partners, allies, and friends both in the community and in the Georgia General Assembly without whom we could not have been so successful!!

The table below progress of the specific Unlock asks through the budget process in the 2015 Georgia General Assembly. The yellow highlights show the final amounts that were agreed upon.

Unlock Original ASK for ICWP:  Governor's FY 2016 recommendation:  House budget version:  Senate budget version:  Conference committee:  Unlock Original ASK for NOW/COMP:  Governor's FY 2016 recommendation:  House budget version:  Senate budget version:  Conference committee:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Unlock Original ASK for ICWP: 
Gradually raise the ICWP Personal Support Services rate to $20/hr. beginning with a $3/hr. increase for FY 2016 $7,975,490
Governor's FY 2016 recommendation:  No new ICWP increase $0
House budget version: $.50 per hour rate increase for Personal Support Services covered under the ICWP $1,329,428
Senate budget version: $1.00 per hour rate increase for Personal Support Services covered under the ICWP for Direct Support Professionals $2,658,856
Conference committee: $0.75 per hour rate increase for Personal Support Services covered under ICWP $1,994,142
Unlock Original ASK for NOW/COMP: 1,000 new NOW/COMP waivers for Georgians most in need $16,493,000
Governor's FY 2016 recommendation: No new DD waivers $0
House budget version:  Increase funds for 75 additional slots for the NOW and COMP waivers $1,124,226
Senate budget version: Senate agreed with House $1,124,226
Conference committee: No changes from conference committee - 75 slot for NOW and COMP $1,124,226

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Here are some additional budget highlights within the DCH and DBHDD budgets:
http://www.unlockthewaitinglists.com/2015info/FY_2016_Final_Bill_Conf_CmteDDandDCH.pdf

Also of note within the budget:

  • $490 thousand was added within the Adult DD Services section of the DBHDD budget for additional supported employment slots for people with developmental disabilities.
  • GVRA got $900K within the Voc. Rehab budget (DHS) to assist training and employment support for Georgians with disabilities, which will allow $3.6 million of federal funding to be drawn down for a total of $4.5 million in new public funds to support employment for Georgians with disabilities.

Check out the Unlock website for the most current budget information. http://unlockthewaitinglists.com/

BILLS

2015 Georgia Legislative Bills

Any bills that did not make it this year are still alive for consideration next year during the second year of this two-year cycle. Bills that passed both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly will move on to the Governor. He will have 40 days (by midnight May 12) in which to sign the bill into law or veto it. If he does not act on a bill within that time frame, it will become law.

Click on the legislative report, to see all the bills that we are tracking and their latest status as of Sine Die. You can also click on the bill number within the report to link to the actual bill language itself and get even more detailed information.

Bill and Resolution Highlights: below are the statuses of some bills of interest to the disability community.

Several Study Committees were approved that we will be following closely. Stay tuned for updates on these committees and how you can be involved during the summer and fall. For more information on each of these, click on them within the legislative report.

HR 618:PASSED - This resolution creates a House study committee on Adult Day services.

HR 642:PASSED - This resolution, which creates a House study committee on Employment First and Post-secondary Education options for people with disabilities, has been passed by the House. We anticipate a study committee will be appointed after session ends, and are exploring ways to get the Senate involved. For more information on Employment First or to join the Employment First Coalition, please contact Employment First Co-coordinator D'Arcy Robb at

HR 767: PASSED - House study committee on Provision of Community Based Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) services, including the NOW/COMP Medicaid Waiver Services.

Also of note:

HB 429 (Autism Insurance Bill): PASSED – SB1, Ava’s Law, was amended to HB 429 and passed on the last day of session.

For more information about the process a Bill must take to become law in Georgia, click on
Tracking a Bill through the General Assembly

For more information about how a Bill is passed in the Georgia Legislature, click here.

DATES TO REMEMBER

Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Board Meeting: Thursday, April 23
http://dbhdd.georgia.gov/2015-dbhdd-board-meetings

National ADA Symposium: Atlanta, May 10-13
http://adasymposium.org/

Date by which Gov. Deal has to act on bills passed by the General Assembly: Tuesday, May 12

Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency Board Meeting: Wednesday, May 13

DD Advisory Council Meeting: Friday, May 15
http://dbhdd.georgia.gov/dd-advisory-council

Atlanta's ADA Parade: June 13

Prefiling for the 2016 session begins: November 15

2016 Legislative session begins: Monday, Jan 11, 2016

RESOURCES / QUICK LINKS

Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities Public Policy Page

Unlock the Waiting Lists!

Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

Georgia Department of Community Health

Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency

Georgia Department of Education

Georgia Division of Aging Services

Golden Rules of Legislative Visits

Webinar - For Tips on How to Talk to Your Legislator

Accessibility on Capitol Hill

Find Your Senator and Representative

National Resources:

I AM Olmstead

HBCS Advocacy

Disability.gov

Thank you from the GCDD Public Policy Team
Dawn Alford: Acting Public Policy Director
D'Arcy Robb: Public Policy Consultant - Employment First
Nick Perry: Public Policy Intern

Join our Advocacy Network Today!

Download pdf version.   Download Text Version