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GO! Newsletter for Developmental Disability Community

Dear Friend,

Hello from the Grassroots Oregon Bulletin. The GO! Bulletin is a great source for updates on issues, events and activities related to people with developmental disabilities. You are receiving this GO! Bulletin as a member of The Oregon Network , a collaborative effort of the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Oregon DD Coalition.

What's In this Issue:

DD Coalition Activities in the Legislative Session Overview
Budget Highlights
Legislative Highlights
Health care for children or tobacco? It’s your choice!
Could you use help paying for your prescription drugs?
Partners in Policy Making Applications out Soon!
Upcoming Events

DD Coalition Activities in the Legislative Session Overview

The 74th Legislative Session was far different from previous sessions in a number of very important ways. After 16 years of Republican rule, the Democrats gained control of the House and the Senate, as well as the Governor’s Office. And unlike our more recent legislative sessions, economic conditions were good. There was money to add to the budget and an opportunity to rebuild programs previously cut.

An early commitment to try an annual session model, (a six-month session in 2007, a one-month session in 2008) included a commitment to end the 2007 session on time by the end of June. Committees were ready to begin meeting on the opening day of the Legislature and other legislative timeframes were tightened. The new speed and intensity of the session challenged legislators and lobbyists alike. The DD community benefited from a number of strong and committed allies in positions of legislative leadership in both parties. Of significant note were two freshman legislators with children who have developmental disabilities.

And finally, unlike previous legislative sessions, some of which continued on into the final days of August, the 74th Legislative Session met their goal of finishing before the end of June!

Shared Legislative Priorities:

The DD Coalition is comprised of more than 26 organizations that represent providers, families, self advocates, advocacy organizations and others. Prior to the elections in November, the DD Coalition selected its major legislative priorities from a list generated by its members. All members agreed to support the Coalition priorities including the increase in provider rates, Medicaid waiver for medically involved children, and the elimination of the residential offsets

Lobbyists work together:

In addition to the Coalition priorities, many individual members had other legislative issues they pursued. Several Coalition members regularly hire their own lobbyists. Coalition member lobbyists work closely together during the session to promote the issues of people with developmental disabilities, the programs and people who support them, including families.

GO! Project - Grassroots trainings and communication:

The DD advocacy community played a major role in making this one of the most successful legislative sessions for DD issues in recent times. The GO! Project was an important part of that success. DD Coalition members help fund the GO! Project, a grassroots training, information dissemination and community organizing project of the Coalition. During 2006, pre-session education and advocacy workshops were held in Bend, Pendleton, Medford and Portland. Four additional Advocacy Days Workshops were held in the Capitol building during the legislative session. In all, approximately 190 self advocates, family members, direct support staff and professionals attended these advocacy trainings.

The GO! Bulletin containing legislative updates was emailed monthly to an average of 1,689 people throughout Oregon. For the first time, the GO! Project utilized the Oregon Network Powermail and Action Alert system. Seven Alerts requesting action were sent during this Legislative Session. Four Powermails letting people know about important events were also emailed during the Session. The DD Coalition website, http://www.ddcoalition.org was updated weekly. Fact sheets that included county profiles and key issues were available for download on the website. Coalition members and active community members used these facts sheets in their discussions with legislators.

Budget Highlights

DD Budget HB 5031

The DD budget contained a number of significant funding increases.

  • Staley Settlement funding included an increased rate for Non-crisis Comprehensive 300, ability to backfill vacancies as they develop, and cost of living increases
  • $20 million in General Fund was added for provider rates. In addition, providers received cost of living increases.
  • $1.4 million in General Fund was added to fund a new Medically Involved Children’s waiver. (HB 2406)

Eastern Oregon Training Center

The Governor withdrew his proposed closure of Eastern Oregon Training Center (EOTC) in 2007 despite the objections of advocates. Governor’s staff indicated the Governor continued to support the ultimate closure of the last remaining DD state institution, but not in this biennium. HJR 51(see below) establishes Legislative intent that funds from the closure of EOTC should remain within the DD system.

Department of Education

Funding for K-12 education was increased to $6.245 billion. The increase in K-12 education funding will also increase the amount of Special Education dollars received by local school districts. (HB 5020)

  • Efforts failed to increase the funding to Regional Programs, despite an increase in the number of students served, particularly in the area of autism.
  • Early Intervention / Early Childhood Special Education received $102,364,508 in General Fund. $6,084,565 of the allocated GF was placed in a Special Purpose Emergency Board Appropriation fund to be requested for case load growth. (HB 5019)
  • Oregon Pre-K program received an increase of $39 million General Fund. This will dramatically increase the percentage of eligible children, including children with disabilities, who are able to access Oregon Pre-K programs.
  • Housing and Community Supports

    Housing and Community Supports budget for affordable housing increased by $26 million. Unfortunately, HB 3551, the bill that would have increased the document recording fee and generated additional dollars for low income housing failed to pass during the last hours of the legislative session.

    Legislative Highlights

    Developmental Disabilities

    HB 2406 Passed: Creates a Medicaid waiver in-home support program for children who require significant levels of medical support. Directs the Department of Human Services to apply for a Medicaid waiver that would ignore parental income. Passage of this legislation provides options other than nursing homes and foster care for families with children requiring high levels of medical support. Will begin implementation in January.

    HB 2464 Failed: Proposed to allow individuals with developmental disabilities to retain earned income without jeopardizing the individual’s public benefits. This is the third legislative session this bill has been introduced and failed. The estimated cost of implementing this legislation is approximately $400,000 and advocates will focus on getting this included in the 2009-2011 Governor’s Budget.

    HB 2442 Failed: Proposed the establishment of a Commission for the Products of Disabled Individuals law. This was at least the third legislative session that the Oregon School Employees Association has attacked the Products of Disabled Individuals Program by claiming that it encourages the outsourcing of union jobs. Disability advocates maintain that the program, a major source of employment for people with disabilities, is not responsible for outsourcing decisions. The lengthy and bitter hearings included competing unions, providers, people with disabilities, and advocacy organizations. A number of interim efforts are being made in an attempt to avert another legislative attack on the program, including expanding the existing program advisory committee to include representation from unions, business, people with disabilities, and advocates.

    HJR 51 Passed: Recognizes the contributions of people with developmental disabilities, recommends that savings from the closure of Eastern Oregon Training Center remain in the DD system, and requires the state to address the issues of economic development for Pendleton in a plan to close EOTC.

    SB 42 Passed: “Home Alone Bill”. Allows DHS to develop rules for permitting exceptions to the requirement that the foster care provider must be in the home at all times. Allows individuals with developmental disabilities to be in the foster care home alone under certain circumstances. This bill corrects a problem that was discovered after the foster care rules were rewritten.

    SB 328 Passed: Creates program to serve youth who are guilty of certain crimes but are determined to have cognitive limitations that prevent them from understanding the nature and impact of their crimes. Directs the juvenile panel of the Psychiatric Security Review Board to begin to serve youth with developmental disabilities and requires the DD Program to develop secure facilities to serve these youth. This legislation will be closely monitored for its potential budget impacts. A budget note in the DHS budget requires a report to the Ways and Means Committee.

    SB 766 Failed: Proposed a Task Force on Oregon Comprehensive Services System for Adults and Children with Developmental Disabilities. This bill was a “gut and stuff” of another bill. The State Office of DD Services and the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities have agreed to work with families to prepare recommendations related to changes in the current comprehensive system and to advocate for additional funding for non-crisis comprehensive services.

    Education

    HB 2864 Passed: Creates a statewide modified diploma and requires school districts to allow individuals who receive modified diplomas and alternative certificates to participate in graduation ceremonies. This bill was also used as the vehicle for other changes in the graduation requirements for the standard diploma.

    SB 211 Passed: Increases the High Cost Disabilities Fund from $12 million to $18 million.

    Health Care

    HB 2407 Failed: Proposed a federal Medicaid option to allow families who have children with disabilities to supplement their private insurance by buying into the Medicaid program. Oregon advocates believe this is an important option for children with disabilities and are likely to bring it back next session.

    HB 2517 Passed: Requires health care insurance to cover prosthetic and orthotic devices.

    HB 2918 Passed: HB 2918 was originally intended to require health insurance plans to cover autism treatment. The bill was amended and now limits the ability of health benefit plans to treat children under the age of 18 with specific disabilities differently than children without disabilities. This bill also directs the Health Resources Commission to conduct a review of evidence based treatments of pervasive developmental disorders / autism spectrum disorders. In addition to this legislation, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Education have agreed to review current services to people with autism and identify gaps in the system. An effort will be made to coordinate these activities and prepare a holistic report to the Legislature.

    HB 3555 Failed: Proposed a Prevention of Shaken Baby Syndrome Fund that would provide information to new parents on the dangers of shaking babies.

    SB 3 Passed: Creates the Healthy Kids program to provide affordable accessible health care for children. Linked with SJR 4, the Senate Joint Resolution which requires referral to the voters to secure a funding source for the program.

    SB 14 Failed: Would have required health plans to provide coverage for hearing aids for children.

    SB 329 Passed: The major health care reform bill that passed. Creates the Healthy Oregon Act. SB 329 will provide the blueprint for health care reform in the coming several years. There will be a number of opportunities for DD advocate involvement as this bill begins to be implemented.

    SB 362 Passed: Expands access to the Oregon Prescription Drug plan to all Oregonians.

    Housing

    HB 2094 Passed: Expands the use of the Individual Development Account and makes other changes in the existing program. IDA’s may be used to save money toward home ownership, home modifications, technology and employment supports without jeopardizing an individual’s public benefits.

    Administrative

    HB 83 Passed: Implements the Respectful Language bill of 2005 that requires the use of “people first” language in bills, laws, and rules. One the largest bills of the session, HB 83 contained amended language affecting almost all Oregon Statutes.

    Transportation

    HB 2851 Failed: Proposed a task force on transportation needs of people with developmental disabilities. The bill died in Ways and Means. A budget note in the DHS budget requires DHS and Department of Transportation to work together to develop proposals to improve transportation for seniors and people with disabilities.

    Rights

    HB 2175 Passed: Allows DHS to use abuse and neglect reports to determine fitness of employees, providers, and volunteers. Creates a committee to develop recommendations on the use of abuse and neglect reports.

    HB 3336 Failed: Death Penalty. Proposed a Taskforce on Mental Retardation in Capital Cases. This was another effort to address the process for determination of mental capacity in cases where the death penalty was possible. The bill did not pass, but a workgroup involving the Attorney General’s office will be established to recommend a protocol in such cases.

    SB 260 Passed: Modifies the power of the guardian to withdraw or withhold nutrition or hydration. This is an important safeguard for people with developmental disabilities.

    SB 263 Failed: Would have required DHS to provide the Oregon Advocacy Center (OAC) with information on deaths or injuries that occurred during restraint or seclusions of individuals with disabilities in certain types of facilities/ programs.

    SB 264 Passed: Adds a requirement that abuse of individuals with developmental disabilities 18 and over who were previously eligible or in services, must be reported even if the individual is currently no longer in services.

    Human Services

    HB 2469 Passed: Major overhaul of Oregon’s Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Program (TANF) program. Increases screening, identification and support for individuals with disabilities. Includes the creation of a State Family Pre SSI / SSDI program to assist individuals through the eligibility and application process.

    HB 2734 / HB 2914 / HB 3139 / SB 937 Failed: Bills attempted to reinstate a General Assistance type program that would support individuals while they are applying for SSI or SSDI

    SB 648 Passed: Specifies state and local responsibilities for Lifespan Respite programs. Modifies the state and local advisory committees and expands the way the program funds can be used. No additional funding was requested in 2007 but efforts to advocate for additional funding will begin in the fall.

    SB 788 Passed: Grants childcare providers the right to collective bargaining.

    SB 858 Passed: Provides foster care providers the right to collective bargaining. Recognizes SEIU as the exclusive labor organization.

    SB 873 Failed: Proposed a birth abnormality and congenital defect registry. It is likely that there will be efforts to draft another bill during the interim

    SB 955 Failed: Proposed increased mental health services to seniors and people with disabilities.

    Funding / Taxes / Tax Credits

    HB 2347, HB 2535 Failed: Proposed beer and wine tax increases with revenue targeted to mental health and drug and alcohol treatment. Oregon legislature continues to resist raising the currently very low taxes on beer, wine and distilled spirits.

    HB 2707 Passed: Creates a “rainy day” fund for Oregon. Oregon was one of the few states in the nation that still did not have a reserve fund for tough economic times.

    HB 2752 Passed: Allows eligible taxpayer to claim working family child care tax credit if the taxpayer’s spouse is disabled and unable to provide child care, be gainfully employed, or attend school.

    Health care for children or tobacco? It’s your choice!

    More than 100,000 children in Oregon under the age of 18 do not have health care coverage! This means children are going without needed preventive care and using high cost emergency rooms to meet basic health care needs. For families who have children with disabilities that require regular health care services this may mean that they are forced to keep their incomes low just to stay eligible for Medicaid. This November voters will be asked whether they will support an increase in the tobacco tax to support health care for children. To find out more about Ballot Measure 50 and the Healthy Kids Program check the Healthy Kids website.

    Could you use help paying for your prescription drugs?

    Check out the new Oregon Prescription Drug Program. This program is for people without health insurance or those who have insurance but could use help paying for prescription drugs in specific situations. FREE Enrollment! ALL Oregonians can now join! Save up to 60% on prescriptions! Highest discount is on generics! There is no paperwork required and no age or income limit! Only takes a minute to enroll.

    Partners in Policy Making Applications out Soon!

    Oregon Partners in Policymaking is an exciting and innovative leadership training program for adults with developmental disabilities and parents of children with developmental disabilities. Oregon Partners in Policymaking makes participants better advocates for themselves, their family members and the greater disability community. Participants learn about communicating and advocating effectively, services and supports, best practices and approaches, and current policy issues. They learn how to participate in the policymaking process at all levels, so that they can be equal partners in the decisions that impact their lives.

    The Partners Program is only available to a selected number of participants every other year. Application forms will be coming out in September 2007. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance this fall and the Partners class will begin in March 2008. For more information check the Oregon Partners website

    Upcoming Events

    Employment Summit for People with Disabilities: It can happen and it does make sense. Sept. 14, Salem

    Housing Summit for People with Developmental Disabilities: Sept. 28, Seaside

    The mission of the Oregon DD Coalition is to promote quality service and supports which respectfully further the rights, equality, justice, and inclusion for all Oregonians with developmental disabilities and their families.

    Sent to you by the Oregon DD Coalition. Contact: info@oregonddcoalition.org