The Arc Maryland's Weekly Legislative Update
For the Week of January 27 - February 2, 2020
Every Monday in the Insider, check out updates on key legislation affecting the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, and professional supports, learn about upcoming advocacy events and receive notices about Federal and other initiatives of The Arc of the United States!
More Draft Budget Highlights: The Maryland State Department of Education's FY21 Proposed Budget Totals $7.3 Billion
The Governor’s proposed budget for education includes an increase of $1.9 million for Autism Waiver Services. This is projected to add 100 slots for a new cap of 1300 slots. There are currently approx. 5300 children on the Autism Waiver Registry, waiting for services for eight or more years on average.

In the proposed FY21 schools budget, there is also $94 million for public pre-kindergarten education and $10.4 million for the Maryland Infants & Toddlers Program. This is the same funding level as FY 2020.

There is $10 million in the draft budget for the Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) Program. BOOST provides scholarships to students to attend non-public schools. Although non-public schools are a good option for some, it is important to know that students with disabilities who enroll in private schools are not entitled to the rights and protections of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in non-public schools; non-public schools are not required to provide the services and supports children need to appropriately access education. In addition, we have concerns that some admissions policies of non-public schools make it difficult for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities to obtain admission if they also have behavioral support (and other) needs and require additional support.  

There is more than $350 million to fund education initiatives based on recommendations of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (Kirwan Commission), required by legislative action in 2019.
The Annapolis Insider Bill Tracker
Top Bills of the Week
HB0010 : Public Facilities- Changing Facilities

Status: Hearing January 29th at 2:00 PM, House HGO, Room 241

Position: Support with sponsor amendments

This bill would create a requirement for newly constructed or extensively remodeled public buildings and facilities to provide changing stations suitable to hold the weight of an adult.  We need self-advocates, siblings and parents of people with disabilities who need access to adult changing stations in the community to email members of the HGO Committee NOW, call, and testify! The final hearing on this bill is scheduled to happen in the House on January 29 at 2 p.m. in the HGO Committee. Please contact Ande Kolp if you are interested in testifying and she will assist you with getting signed up.
HB0184 : Special Education – Judicial Actions – Attorney’s Fees and Related Costs

Status: Hearing January 30th at 1:00 PM, House W&M, Room 131

Position: Support

This bill would create a mechanism for judges to award expert witness fee recovery to parents when they are the prevailing party in a Special Ed case. The law currently allows for the award of attorney's fees to prevailing parents, but families have the burden of assuming expert witness expenses and many families cannot afford the expense of having expert witnesses while the school system regularly brings experts in at state expense.
HB0140 / SB0056 : Election Law - Petitions and Ballot Questions - Plain Language Requirement

Status (HB0140): Hearing January 29th at 1:00 PM, House W&M, Room 131
Status (SB0056): Hearing January 28th at 2:00 PM, Senate EHEA, Room 2 West, Miller

Position: Support

The standard for Readability is 7th grade and this bill creates a lower threshold (6th grade). While we were seeking an additional lowering of the reading standard to be adequate to meet the needs of some people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the reduction to a 6th grade level is supported by election material guidance and will be enforceable in that respect.
Recap of Bills of the Previous Week
SB0078 : Public Schools – Student Discipline Regulations – Remedial Measures

Status: Hearing January 22nd at 1:00 PM, Senate EHEA, Room 2 West, Miller

Position: Oppose.  

The Arc Maryland has concerns that this bill, as written, runs counter to restorative practice approaches in that it seeks to add requirements of children to apologize, provide restitution, and possibly endure a modified schedule. Some children with specific disabilities may have difficulty with self regulation and understanding the effects of their behavior on other students. The requirement of apology that may not be meaningful absent restorative approaches and an understanding and acceptance of the issue would be inappropriate. Requirements for restitution and a change in a student's schedule may not be possible for families, and further exacerbate an already stressful situation for students with disabilities, especially students who have difficulty adjusting to change.
SB0065 : Counties - Construction of Sidewalks and Crosswalks - Safe Alternative Routes to Public Schools
Status: Hearing January 22nd at 1:00 PM, Senate EHEA, Room 2 West, Miller

Position: Support with Amendment .

The bill would require counties and municipalities to examine their pathways and other routes children, who do not access bus service, take to get to and from school and take measures to ensure all paths are safe. The Arc Maryland introduced what we consider to be a friendly amendment to require that all routes be safe, alternative, and ACCESSIBLE. Although the ADA does not have requirements for accessibility of sidewalks in the public right of way, it offers guidance and encourages that whenever it can be done, sidewalks be made accessible to benefit not only people with physical disabilities, but also parents with young children (strollers) and older adults.
SB0103 : Health Occupations – Diagnostic Evaluation and Treatment of Patients - Disciplinary Actions (The Patient’s Access to Integrative Healthcare Act of 2020)

Status: Hearing January 21st at 1:30 PM, Senate EHEA, Room 2 West, Miller

Position: Submitted letter of information.

The bill appears to be well intended to expand treatment options for people with disabilities. However, the way in which this bill is written, it may be interpreted to allow parents to provide written consent for treatment for patients (even adult children) who are “unable to consent.” The language is too broad in that parents seem to be given similar powers as guardians. While we would appreciate Supported Decision Making as another tool in Maryland, we want to be careful that the rights of adults with disabilities are maintained. Another concern is that the language in the bill around treatment is too broad and may encompass controversial, untested, and possibly harmful and painful "treatments." The Arc Maryland provided a letter of information outlining our concerns and asked for a review of the research and additional protections.

NOTE: There is a follow up meeting in EHEA on this bill on Wednesday, 1/29/20 at 4 PM.
HB0033 / SB0153 : Criminal Law – Abuse or Neglect of a Vulnerable Adult – Causing Severe Emotional Distress

Status (HB0033): Hearing January 21st at 1:00 PM, House JUD, Room 101
Status (SB0153): Hearing January 22nd at 3:00 PM, Senate JPR, Room 2 East, Miller

Position: Support with Amendments
The bill adds severe emotional distress to the list of abuses which constitute a felony crime and of which a person can be fined and serve time.  The bill language was amended and improved. There are minor concerns it does not completely address the effects of cumulative trauma in the causation of “Emotional Distress” and proximal cause, possibly making severe emotional distress victimization difficult to prove. That said, The Arc Maryland strongly supports the intention of this bill which is to make severe emotional abuse a felonious action n cases where there is a preponderance of evidence that a person has maliciously caused a person emotional harm. 

SB0083 : State Government – Delivery of Notices and Communications by Electronic Means – Authorized

Status: Hearing on 1/21 at 1:30 PM in Senate EHEA

Position: Submitted Letter of Information.

The Arc Maryland has concerns about the implications this could have on notices sent by DOH- DDA to families to update status, "clean up" the waiting list, etc. According to the bill, the notices may no longer need to be sent via mail but could be emailed upon obtaining written consent for electronic communications from a person with disabilities. We need to consider what protections we may need to put in place for people with limited comprehension of implications of signing affirmative docs to allow e-communications of an official nature. The bill also does not account for accessibility features that would need to be incorporated and ensured for material sent electronically.
Hearing Schedule
January 28th

EHEA, 2:00 PM, Room 2 West, Miller
SB0056 : Election Law - Petitions and Ballot Questions - Plain Language Requirement
January 29th

W&M, 1:00 PM, Room 131
HB0140 : Election Law - Petitions and Ballot Questions - Plain Language Requirement

HB0142 : Election Law - Voting Order Priority - Individuals Who Need Extra Assistance

HGO, 2:00 PM, Room 241
HB0010: Public Buildings - Changing Facilities for Adult Diapers


B&T, 1:00 PM, Room 3 West, Miller
SB0264 : Frederick County – Elderly or Disabled Renters – Grants
January 30th

W&M, 1:00 PM, Room 131
HB0184 : Special Education – Judicial Actions – Attorney’s Fees and Related Costs.
February 4th

E&T, 1:00 PM, Room 251
HB0231 : Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act

HGO, 1:00 PM, Room 241
HB0259: Health Occupations - Diagnostic Evaluation and Treatment of Patients - Disciplinary Actions (The Patient's Access to Integrative Healthcare Act of 2020)

JUD, 1: 00 PM, Room 101
HB0320 : Criminal Law - Exploitation of Vulnerable Adult or Elderly Individual - Undue Influence
February 5th

HGO, 1:00 PM, Room 241
HB0255 : Health Care Facilities - Hospitals and Related Institutions - Discrimination Protections

HB0374 : Behavioral Health Administration – Children With Mental Disorders – List of Available Services

HB0409 : Maryland Medical Assistance Program - Participation of School-Based Health Centers - Regulations

W&M, 2:00 PM, Room 131
HB0264 : Prince George's County - Elementary School Students - Daily Physical Activity PG 503-20

HB0277 : State Department of Education - Guidelines on Trauma-Informed Approach

HB0327 : Public Schools – School Resource Officers – Prohibited Conduct

HB0328 : State Department of Education – School Discipline – Data Collection

HB0331: Public Schools – Medical Cannabis – Guidelines for Administration to Students (Connor’s Courage)
February 6th

W&M, 1:00 PM, Room 131
HB0353 : Frederick County – Elderly or Disabled Renters – Grants

JUD, 1:00 PM, Room 101
HB0369 : Foster Parents, Preadoptive Parents, and Caregivers - Right to Intervene
February 7th

W&M, 1:00 PM, Room 131
HB0383 : State Department of Education - Student Performance Reports - Students With Disabilities

HB0413 : Prince George's County - Elementary School Students - Daily Physical Activity (Student Health and Fitness Act)
Save the Date: DDA Budget Hearings
At this time, DDA Budget hearings are scheduled with the OLA-MDH/DDA Audits on the following schedule:

February 26 , 1:00 PM, House Room 150, Health and Social Services Subcommittee

February 27 , 1:00 PM, Senate Amos Room (4th Floor), Health and Human Services Subcommittee

Please note: the following abbreviations identify the legislative committees in the Assembly:

House of Delegates:
  • APP - Appropriations Committee
  • EMC - Economic Matters Committee
  • E&T - Environment and Transportation Committee
  • HGO - Health and Government Operations Committee
  • JUD - Judicial Committee
  • W&M - Ways and Means Committee

  • B&T - Budget and Taxation Committee
  • EHEA - Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee
  • FIN - Finance Committee
  • JPR - Judicial Proceedings Committee
News, Events, and Action Alerts
Accessible Restrooms Aren't a "Special" Need
As Maryland legislators consider the addition of adult changing stations across the state of Maryland ( HB0010/ SB0044), parent, advocate, and Partners in Policymaking graduate Laura Hatcher of Little Lobbyists shared her thoughts on the need for changing stations. Laura advocates for her son, Simon(pictured right), and others across the nation who need access to these changing stations.

In the blog post, Laura speaks about the access to changing stations for older children and adults with disabilities, and explains how this access is not something special, but is a necessity and right for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Please take the time to read the post from the button below, and consider sharing its message with others. Thanks to Laura and others who have shed light on this topic!
DD Day at the Legislature Event Live Stream
February 12th at 8:45 AM
Registration is full for Developmental Disabilities Day at the Legislature, but you can still join us online for the day through our event Live Stream!

The Live Stream will immerse viewers into the presentations from advocate leaders and legislators at the Annapolis Graduate Hotel from the comfort of home! If you did not get a ticket to the event, or if you preferred not to attend, you can tune in to the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Coalition Facebook page from 8:45 AM to 11:00 AM on Wednesday, February 12th to learn about 2020 legislative priorities for the Coalition.

To participate in the Live Stream, be sure to like the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Coalition Facebook Page for the video to show up on your news feed.
Message from The Arc US: Protect Social Security and SSI!
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has proposed a rule that would require the completion of complicated paperwork more often and put benefits for thousands of people with disabilities at risk!
Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are crucial supports for many people with disabilities, and the system to access these benefits is already too complicated. We don't need to make the system even more complex. The proposed rule would:

  • Require people with disabilities to fill out complicated paperwork 2.6 million more times over the next ten years
  • Put benefits for thousands of people with disabilities at risk
  • Cut $2.8 billion in Social Security and SSI benefits

Learn more here about the proposed rule and the harmful changes it would cause.

This rule would increase how often adults and children with disabilities must prove that they have a disability. This process is called Continuing Disability Reviews and can be extremely complicated. People with disabilities, their families, their teachers, and their service providers often spend weeks gathering information and making sure forms are filled out correctly. Even minor errors on a form can put Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits at risk, as well as Medicaid services and other benefits. Unfortunately, SSA often makes mistakes in these reviews, forcing people with disabilities and their families to hire lawyers and spend years getting back the benefits they are entitled to.

The proposed rule would cut $2.8 billion in Social Security and SSI benefits.

Take Action Now
There is still time to stop this rule. Until January 31, SSA is taking comments from the public, which the government must read and respond to before it makes the rule final. It is critical that the disability community send in as many comments as possible explaining why this rule is harmful and how Social Security and SSI helps people with disabilities to stop the rule from being implemented.  Click the Take Action Now button above.