LDA Legislative News

LDA Legislative News is our monthly newlsetter for legislative updates and news from Washington.

LDA Legislative News – September 2019

Appeal Dismissed in COPAA v. DeVos On March 7, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled the  U.S. Department of Education engaged in “illegal delay of a legal regulation” related to significant disproportionality in special education.  That ruling was the result of a 2018 suit by the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA) against the Department to enforce implementation of the 2016 regulation.  Now the Department of Justice has dismissed the Department of Education’s appeal of the March ruling, ending the Department’s attempts to delay or derail the regulation. After delaying the original Obama-era… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – August 2019

Congress Passes Bipartisan Budget Deal As the congressional August recess approached, LDA and other advocacy organizations waited to see if Congress would finalize a deal to raise the budget caps put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA).  The BCA caps were set to expire at the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 (school year 2021-22).  The result of the BCA caps remaining in effect for Fiscal Years (FY) 2020 and 2021 would have been deep cuts to current spending levels in all LDA’s priority areas – education, health, job training, and environmental issues.  Members of Congress… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – March 2019

President’s FY 2020 Budget Proposal Harsh on Education The first Monday in February is the regular date for the release of the president’s budget proposal for the upcoming federal fiscal year.  This year, due to the government shutdown in January, the release of the FY 2020 budget was delayed until March. FY 2020 begins on October 1, 2019.  The portion of the proposal that would fund the U.S. Department of Education for FY 2020 (School Year 2020-21) is much the same as last year’s proposal, a harsh budget that was soundly rejected by Congress for the current fiscal year. The… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – January 2019

116th Congress Brings New Champions As reported after the 2018 midterm elections, there are significant changes in the 116th Congress.  First, the majority shifted to the Democrats in the House of Representatives.  Second, the Republican majority in the Senate increased slightly.  However, more important to LDA, there are some new members with histories that make them possible champions for individuals with learning disabilities. The best way to influence and educate members of Congress – and local and state legislators – is to build good relationships early on and nurture those connections.  Readers will find below a list of new members… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – November 2018

What the Midterms Mean for LDA After many months of political ads, debates, and discussion, the midterm elections have now come and gone.  LDA is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization. However, the political landscape can have a significant impact on the group’s advocacy on behalf of its members.  Legislators across the political spectrum may champion issues of concern to LDA and help move the organization’s agenda forward.  So what changes occurred in the elections that may impact LDA’s efforts? Before discussing the direct impact of the election on LDA, here are a few brief “civics” reminders.  The 115th Congress (member of… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – October 2018

New Director of OSEP Appointed After an extended period without a permanent director, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education has a new chief.  Laurie VanderPloeg, a longtime special educator and advocate, has been appointed as OSEP Director.  At the time of her appointment, Laurie was serving as president of the Council for Exceptional Children and had previously been president of the Council of Administrators of Special Education. The new director who hails from the Grand Rapids, Michigan area, followed in her mother’s footsteps to become a middle and high school special education teacher. … Read More »

LDA Legislative News – July 2018

Collett Addresses Department Policy Lens Johnny Collett, Assistant Secretary of Education for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), U.S. Department of Education, recently addressed the lens through which his department will examine current and future policies related to children and youth with disabilities.  At a Town Hall sponsored by the Council for Exceptional Children and the Council of Administrators of Special Education, Collett said that “tinkering around the edges” will not suffice to provide a system that adequately serves individuals with disabilities. Collett noted that “systems change is not easy” and that it “doesn’t happen quickly.”  He said, in fact,… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – June 2018

School Safety Commission to Provide Recommendations The Federal Commission on School Safety was established by the president in March 2018.  Secretary of Education DeVos chairs the Commission, and the other members are the Attorney General and Secretaries of the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services.  LDA is developing comments to submit to the Commission on how to improve safety in our schools and specifically how to address the needs of  students with learning disabilities in a safe school environment. The Commission is charged with developing recommendations focused on keeping students safe in school.  They are considering areas… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – May 2018

Education Department Reviews Expenditures on OSEP Centers The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS, U.S. Department of Education) has been seeking public comment by May 24 on the best way for the Department to provide technical assistance to states on the collection and reporting of data under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  The IDEA allows the Department to set aside not more than 0.5 percent of Part B funds to provide technical assistance to states to improve their capacity to meet data collection requirements. Since the passage of the federal special education law, states have been… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – April 2018

Federal Spending Up, But What’s Next? Six months into federal Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 2018) Congress finally passed an omnibus appropriations bill to fund all federal programs and activities. Much to everyone’s surprise, especially after the president proposed an extremely austere budget, Congress reached an agreement that increased spending to levels not seen in quite a few years. The president now has expressed interest in rescinding – rolling back – some of the spending in the bill he already signed into law. What happens next? More… As an example, education funding for the remainder of FY 2018, ending September 30,… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – January 2018

Congress Kicks Fiscal Can Down the Road Since October 1, 2017, the first day of federal Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 2018), federal agencies have been funded through a series of Continuing Resolutions (CR), stopgap bills that keep the government running until final appropriations (funding) for the fiscal year levels have been set.  Following a brief government shutdown in late January, Congress voted to kick the can down the road until February 8, when once again the government may be faced with a possible shutdown. The federal fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30.  We are currently in federal… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – November 2017

Disability Advocates Oppose Tax Bills LDA has joined the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), with LDA and around 100 national disability organizations as members, to oppose current efforts to rewrite federal tax laws.  A large majority of CCD members opposed the House bill and now are expressing the same serious concerns about the Senate’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  The coalition has focused on the fact that crucial health, education, and other federal programs that impact the lives of individuals with disabilities will likely need to be cut deeply to compensate for proposed decreased federal tax revenues of more… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – October 2017

OSERS Recinds Outdated Guidance In February, the president issued Executive Order 13777 establishing a Regulatory Reform Task Force to evaluate existing regulations and make recommendations regarding “repeal, replacement, or modification.” As part of this process, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), U.S. Department of Education has undertaken a review of non-regulatory guidance documents. In the first phase of its review, OSERS has announced rescission of 72 documents deemed “outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective.” Of the rescinded documents, 63 were from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the remaining 9 from RSA (Rehabilitative Services Administration). No regulations… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – September 2017

CHIP Funding to Expire September 30 With the health care focus squarely on the fate of the Affordable Care Act, little attention has been paid to a looming deadline for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  CHIP is authorized through 2019.  However, funding expires on September 30, 2017, jeopardizing health care for the nearly 9 million children covered by this program.  Despite its relatively small number of recipients compared to Medicaid, CHIP has significantly helped reduce the percentage of uninsured children, especially those with moderate incomes. Unlike Medicaid, CHIP funding must be extended by Congress every few years.  To that… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – July|August 2017

House Committee Votes Deep Education Cuts Without the advantage of knowing first the total amount they have to spend for the next fiscal year, the House Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations Subcommittee went ahead to develop a bill for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 2018) $5 billion below the current budget cap.  Within a week after the subcommittee vote, the full House Appropriations Committee approved basically the same bill, which cuts U.S. Department of Education programs by $4.2 billion (6.2%) below the current funding level. This House committee action is just one step in the process of determining final spending levels… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – March 2017

President’s Funding Proposals Would Seriously Harm LDA Priorities On March 16, the White House released the president’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018 (School Year 2018-19), which will begin on October 1, 2017.  That budget contains draconian cuts to LDA priority programs, including education, job training, physical and mental health, environmental protection, and juvenile justice.  Overall the budget would cut discretionary spending, except for defense, by $54 billion, while increasing defense, homeland security, and veterans’ affairs by an almost equivalent amount. Among the agencies hardest hit are the Departments of Labor and Education and the Environmental Protection Agency.  As an… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – November 2016

Election Impact on Disability Policy Unclear It is too soon to tell what impact the change in Administration will have on disability policy. LDA will have a better sense once decisions are made about who will lead the Cabinet agencies, including Education, Health and Human Services, and Justice. However, as has always been the case, LDA will meet the Administration and members of Congress where they are and advocate for strong policies that positively affect the lives of individuals with learning disabilities. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, LDA cannot engage in partisan political activity. In fact, LDA members represent a… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – June 2016

Education Department Proposes ESSA Regulations The U.S. Department of Education has issued draft regulations to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and now the public gets to comment. The regulations address school accountability, data reporting, and consolidated State plans. In May the regulatory process began with a panel of negotiators examining draft regulations related to assessment and supplement-not supplant rules. The panel was only able to agree on draft regulations on assessment, but the Department has not included those in the current package. “Adequate yearly progress” and other features of the federal accountability system included in No Child Left… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – May 2016

Proposed Disproportionality Regulations Problematic The U.S. Department of Education wants to identify and help states and local districts address occurrences of significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity in the way they identify and place students with disabilities and impose disciplinary actions. LDA has responded to the Department’s request for comments on proposed regulations to the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) to ensure equity in the application of the law. The proposed regulations are targeted at helping states determine when significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity occurs in identifying children as children with disabilities in certain disability categories and… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – April 2016

ESSA Negotiated Rulemaking Success Unclear The top priority for the chairmen of the House and Senate education committees for the remainder of the year is the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  Enacting the comprehensive bipartisan bill in December 2015 was a major accomplishment after several previous attempts had failed over the last eight years.  Now the focus is on ensuring States implement the law as Congress intended, and the U.S. Department of Education clarifies that intent without going beyond the statutory requirements. The negotiated rulemaking process (described in detail in the March issue of LDA Legislative News)… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – March 2016

OSEP Solicits Input on Disproportionality Rules On March 2, 2016, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education, issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to amend current IDEA regulations related to significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity.  OSEP says the purposes of the proposed changes are to ensure States are appropriately identifying where significant disproportionality exists and, where found, to help States and local school districts address the problem. The proposed regulations would: Provide a standard methodology States must use to determine if significant disproportionality exists in the State and its local school districts. Current… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – January/February 2016

LDA Mobilizes for Flint, MI Children One of the main reasons individuals join LDA is its strong advocacy for the health, safety, and education of children. When LDA learned of the dire situation with the water supply in Flint, Michigan, and the serious effects of high lead levels on children, a workgroup of LDA members sprang into action to support families in that community. Members of the LDA Public Policy Committee and the Professional Advisory Board (PAB) joined together to compose a letter that has been sent to national news media including the New York Times, Washington Post, and the… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – December 2015

Forget NCLB – it’s ESSA Now! After close to eight years of fits and starts, Congress has finally passed and the president has signed into law the newest version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Congress negotiated the House and Senate ESEA bills, which were quite different in scope and approach, to reach the final legislation. Now the U.S. Department of Education takes over, as the regulatory process begins. ESSA represents significant changes from No Child Left Behind (NCLB), first and foremost by moving accountability to the States for school and… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – November 2015

ESEA Moves Toward Final Action After numerous attempts over several years, Congress appears ready to finalize the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ESEA, first enacted in 1965 to provide compensatory education for minority and low-income children, has grown to include educator preparation, education for English language learners, and other aspects of a well-rounded K-12 education. Congressional leaders hope to complete work on the latest version of this important law by the end of the calendar year.  A conference committee of members of the House and Senate education committees met in late November to reach agreement on… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – October 2015

Questions Remain about Budget Deal The government is currently operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR), a stopgap measure to keep the agencies running until Congress decides spending levels for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. This measure is set to expire on December 11. Congressional leaders have expressed support for crafting a budget deal possibly for two years that would loosen the very tight budget caps, giving the appropriations committees additional money to fund critical programs. Sources have reported some budget talks among Senate and House leaders and the Office of Management and Budget and the White House. Democrats have made clear… Read More »