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Why Not

I am a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. I believe in sharing my talents and experiences by giving back to the community by giving my time to coaching, church and especially to the disability community. I truly believe that all men and women are created equally.

Update on Current Legislation Affecting People with Disabilities-Update

AB 110 & SB 486 (Special Needs Voucher Bill).  I have previously testified on this bill, (http://www.cudahynow.com/blogs/communityblogs/121247083.htmlWhile the sponsors of the bill have changed from the Florida model to an Ohio model, I still have some concerns.

This bill is being promoted as a bill that gives parents of children with disabilities choice and the opportunity to attend private school.  While Wisconsin disability advocates have been consulted in the drafting of this bill, it still contains several non-negotiable problems.  
 
First, the funding calculation does not create choice for all families.  There is no way that either a child with complex needs or a family with less financial means could access the scholarship.
 
Second, this bill does not, like the Ohio bill, require that the voucher school have qualified staff, including special education teachers, who can provide the specialized supports that a child who has an IEP (Individualized Education Program) requires.  
 
Third, although the bill references IEP's, there is no accountability, and the family has no rights if it is not implemented. 
 
Finally, there is no mechanism to return funding to the public school if a private school ultimately fails the child, the funding mechanism takes public special education funding away from the child's public school, which may affect the supports available to the children who remain.
 
 
Since I am new to some of these political processes, I find it odd that although the bill has changed from the Florida model to the Ohio model, the Assembly does not need to hold another public hearing to allow discussion of these changes.
 
The Senate has yet to take any action on this bill.
 
AB 455 (Seclusion and Restraint Bill).  The bill protects students and teachers and prevents harmful seclusion and restraint practices in schools.  It passed the full Senate unanimously, but has not been scheduled for a vote in the Assembly. 
 
AB 471 (People First Bill).  The bill removes the words "mental retardation" (the "R" word) from Wisconsin law.  Like AB 455, this bill passed the Senate unanimously, but has not been scheduled for a vote in the Assembly.
 
AB 477 (Family Care Bill). This bill, which passed the Senate unanimously, needs to be passed as a CLEAN bill.  I am hearing that there are some members of the Assembly who may be working on ways to limit the expansion to counties that do not have these supports.  This is problematic for various reason: The legislature currently has significant oversight over expansion to new counties-adding another roadblock is not only unnecessary, it puts federal match dollars ($1.7B) at risk if Wisconsin does not keep the promises made in its waiver agreement; DHS says the cost-savings equation of Family Care is dependent on continued expansion of the service system (replacing the old inefficient system with the new model); many people in Wisconsin are waiting for supports.
 
I find it a bit ironic that a political party wants to reduce the need for more government oversight of issues, yet they want to have more oversight of AB 477.  As I learned this weekend during my Partners in Policymaking class you are either prgenant or you are not.  You either want less government oversight or you want more, there is no picking and choosing when it is convenient. 
 

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