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Legislative Update: Rehabilitation and Disability Legislation and Issues January 21, 2009
House Economic Stimulus Bill Boosts Funds for Rehabilitation and Independent Living
House bill provides a bonus $500 million for VR and $200 million for independent living: The economic stimulus package being proposed by the U.S. House contains $700 million for disability programs under the Rehabilitation Act, $500 million for vocational rehabilitation and $200 million for independent living programs. This is additional money and should not affect the regular appropriation for VR or the cost-of-living increase VR normally receives each year. The funds for both VR and independent living will be spent over two years. The word is that state match will be waived for this added VR funding during the two-year period.
Under the House plan, State Grants for Independent Living would receive $34,775,000. Centers would get $114,581,000. Independent living services for older blind individuals would receive an added $50,644,000. The funds would be spent over two years.
Other provisions in the House Stimulus bill include:
$87 billion for an increased federal Medicaid match (FMAP)
$13 billion for IDEA State Grants
$600 million for IDEA Early Intervention
A one time $450 (individuals) and $630 (couples) payment to all SSI recipients - a $4.2 billion total cost
$900 million to improve the Social Security Administration claims process and computerization upgrades
$6.5 billion for several low income housing initiatives
The Senate has yet to release its version of an economic stimulus package. It is likely that some members of both houses will want to reduce the levels of expenditures on any economic recovery bill, so added funds for disability programs could be at risk. U.S. House and Senate members will be hearing from their constituents in the coming days and what they hear will make a difference in the proposals they will support or oppose.
State Disability Legislation
Getting bill copies and information:
Find copies of introduced bills by going to http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/textofmeasures/textofmeasures.aspx
Select Senate for Senate bills, House for House bills. Then on the right, select the stage in the legislative process that is applicable. Bills often change as they go through the Legislature, so you will want to find the version that is current at the time you are checking. Or, you may want to compare versions at different points in the process. Right now, you should select "Introduced Bills." Then submit. The bills will be presented in numerical order. To see a copy of a bill, click on the bill number.
To check the status of a bill - find out where it is in the legislative process - go to
Click on Basic Search Form. Enter the bill number you want in the appropriate box, and retrieve. The result will tell you what has happened to the bill. It will also provide links to the bill at various stages in the legislative process (introduced, committee report, committee substitute, engrossed, enrolled, etc.).
Selected Bills Affecting DRS, Consumers and Disability Programs:
DRS; Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council
Sign language interpreters:
Medical records; disability applicants; DDD:
Aging and disability:
Aging and disability:
Assisted living; Medicaid:
Independent living:SB-1044 (Sparks)
Long-term care; home and community based waiver:
Blind students; Orientation and Mobility instructors:
Blind and visually impaired students:
Hearing aids; eyeglasses:
Several bills could affect DRS’ Business enterprise Program (BEP). They include:
A bill requiring deposits and refunds for beverage containers.
A bill requiring food service operators to provide nutritional information to customers.
A bill giving a tax credit to food service owners for producing nutritional data for customers.
A bill requiring all food service workers to complete state food handling courses.
Additional topics addressed in introduced bills:
• Establishment of a state department on aging.
• Requiring health insurance to cover autism.
• Changes to existing state college tuition aid programs.
• Health care for uninsured Oklahomans.
• Development of an electronic health records system.
• Eliminating sales tax on over-the-counter medicines, food and beverages.
• Increasing the monthly personal needs allowance for nursing home residents.
• Prohibiting health insurance from denying care to patients in clinical trials.
• Building the state’s health care workforce, especially in rural Oklahoma.
• Increasing or modifying state employee benefits and pay.
• Increasing minimum teacher salaries.
• Modifying special education due process provisions.
• Establishing a statewide effort to prevent and treat lung disease.
• Requiring health insurance coverage of colorectal cancer screenings.
• Modifying provisions related to protection of vulnerable adults.
• Immunity from liability for medical professionals who donate free care for charity.
• Provisions affecting the development and funding of public transportation.
• Requiring staff restroom access for customers with certain medical conditions.
• Restricting the use of texting and cell phones while driving (injury prevention).
• Creating the Therapeutic Recreation Practice Act.
• Studying ways to prevent pressure ulcers for patients in Medicaid facilities.
• Requiring wheelchairs on roads to have orange banners.
• Allowing Medicaid recipients to get mental health medications more easily.
• Modifying provisions related to vision screening in schools.
• Workers compensation reform.
• A business tax credit for installing extra handicapped parking.
• Supporting extension of passenger rail service north to Newton and Kansas City.
• Requiring certain signage at handicapped parking places.
• Letting motorcycles drive through red lights - a hazard for blind pedestrians.
• Narrowing the definition of “personal care” under the Home Care Act.
• Requiring mental health training for teachers.
• Providing a tax deduction for health insurance premiums paid by an individual.
• Provisions promoting stem cell research.
For Your Files
Find Your Federal and State Legislators:http://www.capitolconnect.com/oklahoma/
For state legislator and committee information:
For Information Contact: Jean Jones DVR/DVS Legislative Information Representative Department of Rehabilitation Services 405-951-3488 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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