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NDSC Governmental Affairs Newsline
September 23, 2014

ABLE Update

On Friday, September 19, 2014, the leaders of the Senate's Committee on Finance said that they have reached an agreement on the framework for the ABLE Act. After a meeting between the Senate Finance committee staff, NDSC and other national disability advocates, a statement was released by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. which reads: "We are committed to working with our House colleagues to ensure this legislation will be passed in a bipartisan, bicameral manner and sent to the president's desk in the lame duck session."

Under the House amended version, people with disabilities would be able to create special accounts at any financial institution where they could deposit up to $14,000 annually. The ABLE accounts could accrue up to $100,000 in savings. Interest earned on savings within the accounts would be tax-free to the extent that funds were expended on disability-related expenses.

Congressional members have said that a plan must be developed to pay for the $2.1 billion cost over 10 years.  Hopefully, an agreement can be reached and the bill will be passed during the lame duck Congressional session, which begins November 12, 2014. 
Education - The IDEA Fairness Restoration Act  
Introduced in the Senate

On September 10, 2014, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced S.2790, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Fairness Restoration Act. This legislation would ensure parents who successfully challenge a school district under IDEA can recoup costs for psychologists, behavior specialists, physicians and other experts they engage, in order to bring their case.  Currently, families can challenge schools if they do not believe that their child is being provided a free and appropriate education (FAPE) under the law. While attorney's fees can be recovered by whichever party prevails, a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court decision determined that costs for expert witnesses cannot. The IDEA Fairness Restoration Act would remedy this problem by overriding the Supreme Court's decision and restoring IDEA's original intent, allowing prevailing parents to recover expert fees, just like prevailing plaintiffs in the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII, and other civil rights laws.
Great Opportunity in Washington, DC

The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation is seeking exemplary professionals, and/or persons experiencing disability and/or family members of persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities for an intensive one-year Public Policy Fellowship in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the Fellowship is to prepare both early career and more seasoned leaders to assume leadership in the public policy arena in their home state and/or nationally. Get all the details at the JPKF website.
NDSC envisions a world with equal rights and opportunities for people with Down syndrome.

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