Rights – Senate Committee Approves Nominee for Attorney General

On February 1, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to favorably report the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be Attorney General. The Attorney General is a cabinet level position in charge of the Department of Justice, which is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to view archived video of the hearing.

Education – Senate Committee Schedules Vote on DeVos Nomination

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for Attorney General on January 31. The Attorney General is a cabinet level position in charge of the Department of Justice, which is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.

On December 28, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education released three new sets of guidance packages to assist the public in understanding how the Department interprets and enforces federal civil rights laws protecting the rights of students with disabilities:

Employment/Rights – Final Affirmative Action Rule for People with Disabilities Issued

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its final rule to amend the regulations that require federal agencies to engage in affirmative action for individuals with disabilities. These changes clarify the obligations that the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 imposes on federal agencies as employers that are over and above the obligation to not discriminate on the basis of disability. The regulation does not apply to the private sector or to state or local governments. This final rule will be effective on March 6, 2017.

Rights – Senate to Hold Confirmation Hearing for Attorney General Nominee

On January 10, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be the Attorney General. The Attorney General is a cabinet level position in charge of the Department of Justice, which is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.

Rights – Election Assistance Commission Seeks Feedback from Voters With Disabilities

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is gathering feedback from voters with disabilities about their experiences during the election. Sharing experiences will help the EAC take stock of the 2016 election process, determine what went well, and identify areas for continued improvement to ensure that all people with disabilities are able to vote privately and independently. Please send an email to listen@eac.gov to share your story. All positive and negative feedback is welcome and encouraged.

Rights – Department of Justice Provides Technical Assistance on Polling Place Accessibility

The Department of Justice has issued a technical assistance document instructing states on how to ensure that people with disabilities have access to polling places. The document is not a formal legal interpretation, but does provide advice on how to remedy certain accessibility barriers. It contains a checklist written to be understandable by people who do not have technical expertise.

Rights/Education – Webinar on Supported Decision Making in Education

The National Resource Center on Supported Decision Making is sponsoring a webinar series, From Theory to Practice. On Wednesday, May 25 at 1:00 pm, EDT, the topic will be Supported Decision-Making in Education. Recent studies have found that educational professionals are the most common source of referrals for guardianship. This webinar will feature attorneys and advocates who have worked to include Supported Decision-Making and self-determination into school curriculums. They will tell stories of triumph and struggle that are applicable to professionals across the country. The presenters are Morgan K. Whitlatch, Legal Director at Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities and Project Director of the National Resource Center of Supported Decision-Making and Laura Smith Butler, Research Policy Administrator of National Core Indicators at the Human Development Institute, University of Kentucky. Register here.

Health/Rights – Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Releases Final Rule on Non-Discrimination in Federally Funded Health Programs

On Friday, May 13, HHS released an advanced notice of a final ruleimplementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The final rule clarifies the responsibilities of covered providers and insurers regarding non-discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. It applies to Health Insurance Marketplaces and every program or activity administered by HHS, with the exception of Medicare Part B. The Arc will be reviewing the regulations and will provide additional analysis.

Rights/Health – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Releases Final Wellness Rules

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is issuing two final rules making changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) regulations as they relate to employee wellness programs. The ADA regulation changes provide guidance on the extent to which employers may use incentives to encourage employees to participate in wellness programs that ask them to respond to disability-related inquiries and/or undergo medical examinations. The GINA regulation addresses the extent to which an employer may offer an inducement to an employee for the employee’s spouse to provide information about the spouse’s manifestation of disease or disorder as part of a health risk assessment (HRA) administered in connection with an employer-sponsored wellness program. The regulations will be published in the Federal Register on May 17 and The Arc will provide additional analysis.