July 15, 2022
Advocates Urge Governor to Sign Bill Expanding Job Opportunities
The Arc New York joined six other non-profits representing New Yorkers with developmental, intellectual and physical disabilities in sending a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul this week urging her to sign S.7578-C (Mannion)/A.8549-C (Burdick), also known as the Preferred Source Modernization Bill.

The bill, which unanimously passed the Senate and Assembly at the end of session, would make the first significant updates in New York’s Preferred Source Program since its inception in 1975. The program was created in the aftermath of the Willowbrook scandal that exposed New York’s poor treatment of persons with disabilities.

The Preferred Source Modernization Bill:
  • Modernizes multiple terms within the Preferred Source statute, including references to "workshops" and "severely disabled."
  • Simplifies the process for approving Preferred Source contracts to make it closer to other diversity and inclusion contracting initiatives. The OGS review threshold is currently $50,000, a level set 14 years ago. The Rockefeller Institute recommended it be raised to $250,000. The bill raises it to $100,000.
  • Expands employment opportunities for people with disabilities by reducing the required ratio of work performed by people with disabilities on a given contract from 75 percent to 50 percent. This change recognizes the fact that many employment opportunities are now available in integrated, community-based settings where persons with disabilities earn competitive wages alongside with people without disabilities.

On June 30, The Arc New York sent our own letter to the governor in support of the Preferred Source Modernization Bill.
988 Suicide and Crisis Prevention Hotline Now Available Across NYS
This week, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the successful implementation of 988 in New York state. The new three-digit number is being launched nationwide on July 16 to directly connect people to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by call or text.

All 62 counties in New York State are covered by the new 988 Lifeline, which will ensure that anyone with a New York area code will be connected to one of the state's 988 crisis centers.

"For individuals in crisis, including those with developmental disabilities, having someone to call who will listen to their challenges and provide support can make a significant impact and difference in their life," said OPWDD Commissioner Kerri Neifeld. "The 988 suicide and crisis lifeline will help decrease disproportionate involvement of law enforcement so often experienced by this community and ensure that they are put in touch with someone who can help address their needs during a crisis."

More information about New York's rollout of 988 can be found in the Governor's press release. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website for additional resources.  

House Committee Approves Appropriations Bills
On June 30, the House Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED), and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD) appropriations bills. These bills include overall increases of 13% and 12%, respectively. Many of The Arc’s priority programs received substantial increases.

The most significant increases were Office of Disability Employment Policy (45%), Lifespan Respite Care Act (75%), State Grants to Remove Barriers to Voting (47%), IDEA Personnel Preparation (163%), and Vocational Rehabilitation Demonstration and Training Programs (172%). A listing of these discretionary programs and their proposed percentages can be found here.
Additionally, the L-HHS-ED appropriations bill prohibits the Department of Education from funding any entity that uses electric shock devices as a form of aversive conditioning or discipline. If passed, the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC) will have to either cease use of electric shock devices or forgo federal education funding. This language was included in the House-passed L-HHS-ED appropriations bill last year but was not included in the final package.
OPWDD 5.07 Draft Strategic Plan Virtual Forums
This week, the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) announced the addition of two virtual hearings on the 2023-2027 Draft Strategic Plan. Previously, forums were only scheduled to take place in-person. OPWDD invites all interested stakeholders who would like to provide feedback on the Draft Plan to participate in a virtual hearing if they are unable or prefer not to attend in-person forums. In-person forums are also coming up in Rochester and Buffalo. More information on all the forums can be found below.

Rochester Forum
July 18, 3:30-5:30 PM. View the forum flyer here.

Buffalo Forum
July 19, 1-3 PM. View the forum flyer here.

Virtual Forum 1
August 15, 2-4 PM. Register to listen or speak here

Virtual Forum 2
August 16, 6-8 PM. Register to listen or speak here

Want to do More?
Visit The Arc New York Advocacy Center for more ways to take action, including campaigns to support federal funding, employment opportunities, and our dedicated workforce. You can also find tools and resources to help you be a stronger advocate for New Yorkers with disabilities.

This and all advocacy updates are archived on The Arc New York website for future reference. Please contact us if you have questions regarding any of this information.
Contact: Philip Aydinian, Director of Governmental Affairs 
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