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Disability Rights California worked on many issues this year to help advance the rights of people with disabilities, and we fought against a number of cuts to programs people with disabilities care about. Because of the budget crisis this was a difficult year for disability rights advocates, with multiple cuts to multiple programs, but the year was not without success. See some of our legislative achievements here:
Disability Rights California co-sponsored three pieces of legislation this legislative session:
ACR 123 (Chesbro) (Co-sponsored with the California Network of Mental Health Clients and People First California) proclaims the third Monday of every September as “California Memorial Project Day”. We sponsored this resolution as a way to educate the public about people who lived and died in state institutions, change perceptions, and diminish stereotyping and stigmatism of people with disabilities. The California Memorial Project (CMP) partners include the California Network of Mental Health Clients (CNMHC), People First California and Disability Rights California. The resolution passed both houses of the legislature with no opposition and with several Assembly and Senate members signing on as coauthors. Resolutions don’t require the governor’s signature.
ACR 162 (Beall)(DRC co-sponsored with California Foundation for Independent Living Centers) designates the second week of October as Disability History Week. This resolution recognizes the significant advancements in civil rights achieved by the disability community and encourages schools and colleges to incorporate disability history into their classroom activities. The resolution passed both houses of the legislature with no opposition. Resolutions don’t require the governor’s signature.
SB 1188 (Wright) (DRC co-sponsored with Fathers and Families, and American Retirees Association ) provides that a parent's disability may not be the basis for granting child custody or visitation to another party, and may not be reason to limit custody or visitation, unless there is a finding that it would not be in the best interest of the child. The bill passed both houses of the legislature with little opposition and was signed into law by the governor.
The governor proposed numerous cuts to programs and services for people with disabilities in his January and May Revision proposals as part of his solution to the $18 billion budget gap. We worked with other health and humans services advocates to fight the cuts. Budget negotiations went on for a record 100 days past the constitutional deadline resulting in uncertainty for people with disabilities and service providers alike as to what services and funding would continue to be available. Some people lived in fear of losing their services, while others found their services were no longer available because providers were not paid. Although the budget agreement is not perfect, our advocates helped fend off many of the most egregious proposals and negotiated alternatives to others. Below are some examples of our success.
Trailer Bill Language Requiring Notice of Exemptions and Exceptions Adopted as Part of the Budget
In the 2009-10 budget cycle, changes to the Lanterman Act reduced services such as respite and supported living services; suspended recreational services (like camping and social recreation); and, required the use of private insurance and least costly vendors. Regional centers did not always tell people with developmental disabilities and their families about exceptions and exemptions to the service limits or the process for requesting exceptions/exemptions. We collaborated with Association of Regional Center Agencies (ARCA) and other stakeholders on budget legislation that required regional centers to provide notice to individuals with disabilities and families about the exceptions and exemptions in the law and the process for requesting these exemptions.
In-Home Supportive Services
In May the governor proposed a 50% cut in In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS). The enacted budget included a 3.6% cut and, significantly, confirmed the right of IHSS consumers to hire workers of their own choosing. We worked alongside other advocates including IHSS consumers, and with legislative staff, to minimize the cuts to IHSS and maximize the protections built into the budget trailer bill that laid out the changes to the IHSS program.
Mandate Reform for Behavioral Intervention Plans:
The governor proposed to suspend most Kindergarten through twelfth grade mandates to relieve pressure on the state general fund. In response, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) put forward alternative proposals for overall reform of state mandates, including eliminating state mandated funding related to behavioral intervention plans (BIPs). We worked with budget committee staff and LAO representatives to negotiate budget trailer bill language to release the state of the financial burden while preserving the underlying state statute and regulations that implement federal requirements for behavioral intervention planning. This reform will maintain BIP services for children and use federal funds to help pay for it.