House and Senate Advance Important Fiscal Year 2016 Spending Bills

Last week, the House and Senate advanced the most important spending bills for disability programs – Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED).  Both would maintain overall sequestration funding levels and include a number of substantial cuts to programs, earning the promise of a veto by President Obama.

L-HHS-ED – Senate – The Senate bill passed the Appropriations Committee along party lines on June 25.  The bill’s discretionary funding level is $3.6 billion below the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 enacted level and includes numerous policy riders that would limit the activities of federal agencies.  Several federal agencies would receive significant cuts and a small number would receive increases. Notable examples include:

  • LABOR:  Includes a 4% cut for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs.
  • HHS:  Includes a 28% cut for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) program management that would restrict the agency’s ability to operate the Affordable Care Act programs, Medicare, and Medicaid.
  • EDUCATION: Includes a $1.1 billion cut for the Department.  However, the IDEA state grant program would receive a nearly 1% increase.

L-HHS – House – The House bill passed the full Appropriations Committee along party lines on June 24 and would provide discretionary funding at $3.7 billion below the FY 2015 level.  The bill also includes numerous policy riders. The House bill included spending cuts and select increases similar to those in the Senate bill:

  • LABOR: Includes a 2% cut for the Employment and Training Administration that helps to implement Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs.
  • HHS: Includes a $344 million cut for CMS.
  • EDUCATION: Includes a cut of $2.8 billion to the Department of Education.  However, this includes an increase of $12 billion (4.3%) for IDEA grants to states.

See the funding levels for specific disability related programs.

Notice of Priority to Establish a Workforce Innovation and Technical Assistance Center

The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services published a Notice of Proposed Priority to establish a Workforce Innovation and Technical Assistance Center to provide training and technical assistance to improve services under the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services program and the State Supported Employment Services program for individuals with disabilities, including those with the most significant disabilities, and to implement changes to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, signed into law on July 22, 2014. Comments must be received by Monday, July 21, 2014. Instruction on submission of comments can be found in the Notice.

The Arc Submits Comments on WIOA

Recently, The Arc submitted comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signed into law in July of 2014. The Arc supported numerous provisions in the regulations and proposed modifications to several of the key definitions and other provisions in the regulation. The comments are consistent with The Arc’s Employment position statement and our public policy agenda. For more information about WIOA and some of the key changes impacting people who have I/DD, please see the National Policy Matters on WIOA.

The LEAD Center Hosts Third Installment of a Webinar Series Titled “WIOA From a Disability Perspective”

On Wednesday, June 24, 2015 from 3:00 – 4:30 PM (ET), the LEAD Center will host another installment of its four-part webinar entitled WIOA from a Disability Perspective. Part 3, “Understanding Changes Regarding Youth Services”, will cover cross-system collaboration and WIOA opportunities to support career counseling, skills training, job exploration, leadership development, and financial literacy education for youth with and without disabilities.

This is the third of a four-part webinar series. After registering for this webinar, be sure to view the previous webinar’s archive and register for the remaining webinar in the series.

Part One Archive – WIOA from a Disability Perspective: An Overview

Part Two Archive – WIOA and the Unified State Planning Process

Part Four: September 24, 2015 – Section 188, the Nondiscrimination Provisions of WIOA

Register for this webinar by clicking or copying and pasting the following link:
https://leadcenter.webex.com/leadcenter/onstage/g.php?MTID=e0a2abdde1481ebef06649b41cd793dc8

This webinar will be captioned and a link to download the presentation will be sent to registrants prior to the webinar. To request any other reasonable accommodations, please contact Brittany Taylor at btaylor@ndi-inc.org within 48 hours of the webinar.

Administration on Community Living New Organizational Structure

Last week the Administration on Community Living (ACL) announced an updated organizational structure to reflect changes implemented as a result of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Some key changes are as follows:

  • Creation of the Administration on Disabilities (AOD), led by Commissioner Aaron Bishop
    • Within AOD, the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities will be led by a Deputy Director for Developmental Disabilities but remains otherwise unchanged.
    • Also within AOD, is the Independent Living Administration (ILA) created as part of the Rehabilitation Act. ILA’s leader will serve as both the Deputy Commissioner of AOD, and the Director of the ILA. In this dual role, this person serves as a member of the Administrator’s senior leadership team and reports directly to the Administrator for performing the functions of the Director of Independent Living. ILA will manage the independent living programs that moved to ACL under WIOA, as well as programs that serve people with non-developmental disabilities.
  • The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research is a new center on ACL’s organization chart, but NIDILRR itself is unchanged. It will continue to be led by John Tschida as its director.
  • The Center for Consumer Access and Self-Determination has been renamed the Center for Integrated Programs (CIP). CIP will continue to bridge the aging and disability centers and manage the programs that address both populations.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

Last week, the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities, which was mandated by Section 609 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, held its third meeting via webinar. The agenda, presentation materials, and public comment can be accessed here. For more information on the Committee, please visit their website.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act News

Last week, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), Department of Education announced plans to hold two public meetings to seek comments about the proposed regulatory changes contained in a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published in the Federal Register on April 16, 2015. The hearings will provide an opportunity for the public to provide comment related to the NPRM which amends the Code of Federal Regulations Parts 361 (State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program), 363 (State Supported Employment Services Program), and 397 (Limitations on Use of Subminimum Wage. The first meeting will be held on April 30, 2015 from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. in Washington, D.C. at the Department of Education. The second will be held May 20, 2015 from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. at the Department of Rehabilitation in Sacramento, CA. Speakers will likely have five minutes to provide comment in person, however written comments can be submitted using www.regulations.gov through June 15, 2015.

Additionally, the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), Department of Labor announced the next meeting of the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities. It will take place via webinar on Monday, May 11, 2015 from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. and Tuesday, May 12, 2015 from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. (EDT). If you wish to participate in the webinar, you must register here by May 4th. If you desire to address the committee during the public comment period on May 11 from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. (EDT), you must send your name, the organization you represent (if applicable) and additional materials to IntegratedCompetitiveEmployment@dol.gov or call David Berthiaume at (202)693-7887 by May 4th.

Notice of Proposed Rule Making

Last week, the anticipated Notices of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), as related to implementation of the changes to the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program contained in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, were posted in the Federal Register. Two different NPRMs apply to the VR program, the first related to program changes in several areas, can be accessed here. The second, related to State Supported Employment Services Program, and Limitations on the Use of Subminimum Wage can be found here. Public comments are due June 15, 2015. Comments can be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or by US Postal Service to: Janet LaBreck, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 5086 Potomac Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2800.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) notices of proposed rulemaking available for review

Last week, five notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRMs) related to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) were made available for public inspection at https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection.

The five NPRMs include:

  1. Joint NPRM—The U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Labor (DOL) developed a joint NPRM to implement jointly-administered activities under Title I of WIOA regarding Unified and Combined State Plans, performance accountability, and the one-stop system. The joint NPRM applies to all core programs, including the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the Adult Education programs.
  1. DOL-only NPRM—This NPRM will implement changes made to the adult, dislocated worker, and youth programs authorized under title I of WIOA.
  2. Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA)—This NPRM will implement changes to programs authorized under AEFLA, which is contained in title II of WIOA.

Two NPRMs will implement changes made to the programs authorized under the Rehabilitation Act, which is contained in Title IV of WIOA, as well as new provisions added:

  1. State Vocational Rehabilitation Services program and the State Supported Employment Services program, as well as new provisions in Section 511(Limitations on the Use of Subminimum Wages); and
  2. All other Rehabilitation Act programs administered by ED—Client Assistance, American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Protection and Advocacy of Individual Rights, Independent Living Services for Older Individuals Who Are Blind programs, and the discretionary grant programs authorized under Title III of the Rehabilitation Act.

The official 60-day comment period will begin once the NPRMs are published in the Federal Register. Once the 60-day public comment period begins, written comments can be submitted through Regulations.gov at: www.regulations.gov. The Arc will be actively engaged in this review and comment process.

Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities Meeting Held

Last week, the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities, which was mandated by Section 609 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, held its second meeting. To access the Committee Charter, meeting agenda, testimony, meeting minutes, and other updates, visit the Department of Labor website.