Updated 3/15/12 - Thanks again to DAWN for this timely update!
Bills on to the Governor
When dedicated advocates like you work hard, change happens! Three bills about issues extremely important to the disability community passed both the Assembly and Senate. These bills will be sent to Governor Walker for his signature:
Lifting the caps on enrollment to the Family Care, IRIS, PACE, and Partnership programs. The bills that passed included an amendment that gave the Joint Finance Committee more oversight about expanding the programs to counties that don’t yet have them. Only Representatives Vos, Kooyenga, Kapenga, Severson and Craig in the Assembly voted against lifting the caps. The bill numbers are AB 477 and SB 380.
It appears that the Special Needs School Voucher bill has been defeated, thanks to the work of all you advocates. Good work on all these bills!
The Family Care, Seclusion and Restraint, People First, and School Voucher Bills will all be voted on by the Assembly on Tuesday (March 6). All four of these bills could impact people with disabilities in Wisconsin. Contact your Assembly Representative if these bills are important to you!
Family Care/IRIS Caps and Expansion (AB 477): This bill would lift the caps and expand the programs statewide. The Assembly will vote on an amended version that gives the Joint Finance Committee the authority to decide whether the 15 counties that don’t have Family Care/IRIS can start these programs.
Recommendation from disability advocates: Pass the bill without amendment to lift the caps and ensure people in the counties without these programs can access them.
Seclusion and Restraint in Schools (AB 455): This bill would limit the use of seclusion and restraint in schools to situations when the student’s or others’ safety is at risk and it is the last resort. If the Assembly passes AB 455, children will be safer and parents will be informed when these practices are used.
Recommendation from disability advocates: Pass AB 455 so it can become law.
People First Language in State Law (AB 471): This bill replaces the R-word in state law like Rosa’s Law did on the federal level. If the Assembly passes AB 471, state law will use people-first language and the term “intellectual disabilities” instead of the R-word.
Recommendation from disability advocates: Pass AB 471 so people-first language is used in Wisconsin law.
Special Needs Vouchers (AB 110): This bill is intended to allow parents of students with disabilities to use vouchers to attend private schools. The bill takes funding out of public schools, resulting in less money for the vast majority of students with disabilities who remain in public schools. Schools are not required to have special education or related service staff available and do not have to develop new IEPs each year. If the Assembly passes AB 110, it could harm parents and students with disabilities.
Recommendation from disability advocates: Oppose AB 110.
You have until Tuesday to contact your Assembly Representative and advocate for or against these important bills.
Thank you for participating in the legislative process and making Wisconsin a better place for people with disabilities!
Thanks to DAWN (Disability Advocates: Wisconsin Network), an initiative of the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD), for these very timely and comprehensive updates.