Congressional Briefing on Down Syndrome Issues
On December 4, 2013 the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus, along with the National Down Syndrome Congress, National Down Syndrome Society, Global Down Syndrome Foundation and Jerome Lejeune Foundation held a briefing on Down syndrome issues for staff members of House of Representatives. Among the issues covered were current research and the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE). Susan Goodman and Allison Wohl, Executive Director of the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination (CPSD), presented on employment and independent living services.
House and Senate Reach Budget Agreement
Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (H.J. Res. 59). The Senate is expected to pass the bill this week. This deal, reached by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is a blueprint for spending and revenue over the next two years. This bill would ease the limits on spending for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 that had been put in place by sequestration (across-the-board spending cuts). The spending changes do not take effect with the passage of this budget, however. That still requires an appropriations bill to be passed before January 16, 2014, when temporary funding for the government under the current continuing resolution expires.
The two appropriations bills that fund the vast majority of disability-related programs, the Labor-Health and Human Services-and Education bill (L-HHS-ED) and the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) bills, may ultimately be continued at current spending levels for some time because both have recently encountered opposition in Congress.
Employment for People with Disabilities by Government Contractors
NDSC Governmental Affairs Director Susan Goodman and other representatives of national organizations met with officials from the Department of Labor to discuss implementation of a new regulation implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act. The new regulation, issued by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), made changes to the regulations which prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against individuals with disabilities (IWDs) and requires these employers to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote, and retain these individuals.
Among the goals established, according to the DOL include:
Utilization goal: The Final Rule establishes a nationwide 7% utilization goal. Contractors will apply the goal to each of their job groups, or to their entire workforce if the contractor has 100 or fewer employees. Contractors must conduct an annual utilization analysis and assessment of problem areas, and establish specific action-oriented programs to address any identified problems.
Data collection: The Final Rule requires that contractors document and update annually several quantitative comparisons for the number of IWDs who apply for jobs and the number of IWDs they hire. Having this data will assist contractors in measuring the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment efforts. The data must be maintained for three years to be used to spot trends.
Among issues discussed were promoting job opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.