Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Legislative Update No. 1, 2017

Opportunities to engage

TRAINING AND ACTION OPPORTUNITY: Saturday, January 21, 9:30 am to 4 pm. Drop in classes for advocacy basics. Please RSVP so we can plan accordingly. Thanks!
ADVOCACY DAYS START FEBRUARY 1. This year we are lining up shuttles for seven of the dates, starting February 8. Shuttles will depart from Seattle and Federal Way. Space is limited, with 15 slots per pick-up location. Please sign up in advance!

Legislatively: What you need to know

Both Congress and the Washington State Legislature are in session; and advocates will want to pay attention to both.

At the federal level:

The Senate and House have started the process to repeal the Affordable Care Act. (

There is no public plan yet for a replacement, though President-elect Trump has asked for repeal and immediate replacement. Another possibility is repeal, and a prolonged delay before replacement.

ACTION: It is critical that people engage with Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as their Congressional representative in the House. If a new plan emerges, it needs to include those elements that are critical to people with developmental disabilities. Your elected leaders need to hear from you what those elements are.  Please call or email. Your stories about access to health care are important. They need to hear what you think.

At the state level: 

The governor released his budget proposal and committees are meeting. Some bills are being heard, but mostly this first week is full of work sessions.
  • Governor’s budget: This document is not voted on, it is more of a conversation starter. The good news is a $1 per hour rate increase for Supported Living providers was included.  Funding was also included to support high school transition students in finding and keeping a job.
  • Education funding: The education funding task force ended in a stalemate with no recommendations. The state is under court order to finish phasing in basic education funding reform by 2018. Among the issues at play are salary increases for teachers, access to support staff, and possible reform of local property tax levies. Additional cost estimates range from $4 billion and up. Uncertainty with the education budget will affect all budget conversations.
  • The Arc of King County testimony: We are concerned that funding for students with disabilities has not been part of the conversation. The state needs to address actual costs of special education services and lift the 12.7 cap. We support proposals to increase training, especially for paraeducators, and to add to the student support team (counselors, family engagement coordinators, etc).
  • Department for Children, Youth and Families. Proposed legislation is expected next week. This department would merge the Department of Early Learning with Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice. It looks like early intervention services will move to this new agency, but other services provided through the Developmental Disability Administration will stay in the Department of Social and Human Services.

Bills of interest this week:

SB 5070 - An act relating to paraeducators. Students with disabilities and other students affected by the opportunity and achievement gaps spend more than 60 percent of their instructional time with untrained paraeductors. This bill sets common statewide standards, training and career development for paraeducators. House companion bill: HB 1115. The Arc of Washington supports.

HB 1258 - Design statewide training for first responders and 911 personnel; assess 911 system to add disability information. The Arc of Washington supports.

HB 1117 - (“Surprise billing”) Emergency room facilities must provide in-network providers rather than bill for out-of-network services. The Arc of Washington supports

HB 1153 - Increase penalties for financial exploitation and financial abuse of vulnerable people (AG request). Senate companion bill: SB 5099. The Arc of Washington supports

HB 1139 - Expanding the types of services provided by the Office of Public Guardianship. The Arc of Washington supports
SB 5201 - Concerning individuals receiving both employment and community access services. This bill would eliminates  the  requirement  for  nine  months  of  employment  services before a client may move to community access program services. It would allow a client to participate in both employment services and community access services at the same time. It requires a minimum access to 20 hours of community participation each week for clients enrolled in community access or employment services. This bill is still under review by The Arc of Washington.
  • NEW! The state has made it easier to comment on a bill, sign up for email notifications for it, and track its progress, all from the bill page. Click on one of bill numbers above and see for yourself.  

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