LDA Legislative News

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

LDA Legislative News – December 2016

Congress Punts on Appropriations For the past several years Congress has failed to complete the appropriations process on time. The appropriations process involves setting spending for the federal fiscal year.  With the federal fiscal year beginning on October 1, Congress must establish spending for all federal programs and activities by September 30 or risk a government shutdown.   To avoid a shutdown, Congress passed a short-term bill known as a Continuing Resolution (CR) which expired on December 9, but now they have delayed final spending decisions for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY 2017) until the end of April. With the Republican party… 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 – October 2016

Congress Delays Action on Final Spending Bills In what has become an annual ritual, Congress left Washington in early October with the country operating under a continuing resolution (CR).  The CR, a stopgap measure that funds the government until Congress completes work on the 12 appropriations (spending) bills, will expire on December 9.  The CR also included final funding for the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill, leaving 11 appropriations bills awaiting action.  The decision for Congress when it returns for the post-election lame duck session is whether to extend the CR or to finalize appropriations for Fiscal Year 2017… 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 »

LDA Legislative News – September 2015

Government Shutdown Possibility Grows As this article is being written, there are thirteen days remaining until a possible government shutdown on the last day of Fiscal Year 2015 (FY 2015), September 30, 2015.  There is no plan right now to avoid this happening.  Much of what is going on hinges on some very conservative House members who insist any funding bill must include language to defund Planned Parenthood and prohibit certain abortion procedures.  In addition there are some members of Congress who believe the current budget caps are adequate, if not too generous.   The earliest the House could bring up… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – August 2015

Advocates Mark 25th Anniversary of ADA On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into the law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The effort to end institutional discrimination against individuals with disabilities was a true bipartisan effort, with Republican Senator Lowell Weicker as the Senate sponsor and Democratic Representative Tony Coehlo sponsoring the House version.  Now on the 25th anniversary, the ADA continues to provide protections for individuals with disabilities in hiring, public accommodations, healthcare, education and other arenas and has served as a model for other countries as they move to enact similar laws.     While… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – June 2015

Deal Needed to Save Education Funding Congress has begun its deliberations on spending – “appropriations,” in congressional parlance – for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 which begins on October 1, 2015.  The first step in the long process involves consideration of funding bills by the 12 appropriations subcommittees, one of which is Labor-Health and Human Services-Education. That bill contains most all the programs LDA follows.  The House Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee led off in mid-June with passage on a party-line vote of a draconian bill that would significantly reduce spending for most education programs.   Overall funding for discretionary programs in the Department… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – May 2015

Grad Rate for Students with Disabilities Still Lags According to the 2015 Building a Grad Nation report, students with disabilities graduated high school in 2012-13 at a rate 20 percentage points below the national average.  While this is an increase of 2.9 points since 2010-11, this is still a startling gap when most students with disabilities, including students with specific learning disabilities, are in the regular classroom being taught the general education curriculum.   Produced annually for the last six years by the Alliance for Excellent Education, America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center (Johns Hopkins University),… Read More »

LDA Legisative News – April 2015

Bipartisan ESEA Bill Developed in Senate Committee On April 16 by a unanimous vote, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, currently known as No Child Left Behind).  The product of many months of negotiation between Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), the Every Child Achieves Act maintains the core of the ESEA while giving States greater flexibility in implementation.   While both Alexander and Murray acknowledge the bill does not comport completely with what either would have wanted, they… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – March 2015

ESEA Process Slower but Still on Track The process of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, currently known as No Child Left Behind) has been a long time coming.  Each federal education law must be reexamined through the reauthorization process generally every five years to determine if the law is working, if changes need to be made, or if it is no longer relevant or necessary. The process of reauthorizing the ESEA began in 2007, but without success.  Finally, the process appears to have gained momentum, although the end is not yet in sight.    Senator Lamar Alexander… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – January 2015

Education Debate Takes Center Stage The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, known currently as No Child Left Behind, NCLB) is eight years overdue.  Each chamber of Congress has introduced multiple bills over the last seven years in an attempt to find common ground, but without success.  The leadership in the new Congress has indicated both in words and action that they intend to pass a bill this year.    To get the process started, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the new chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released a draft bill in… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – December 2014

LDA Impacts FY 2015 Funding Just at the final hour, the 113th Congress concluded funding for current Fiscal Year 2015 (FY 2015).  Among the few wins in that large bill was the partial reinstatement of the “ability to benefit.” Individuals without a high school diploma will be eligible for federal student financial aid, but only if they are enrolled in a career pathway program at a higher education institution such as a community college.  Since the provision was completely eliminated several years ago, LDA has been working with members of Congress and other interested organizations to regain eligibility for financial… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – November 2014

LDA and NCLD Comment on Federal Research Agenda  In partnership with the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), LDA submitted comments to the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education on the future work of the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER).  NCSER solicited input from researchers, policymakers, and stakeholders as they determine what issues need specific attention and how best to communicate the results of research to practitioners.  With the strong emphasis on evidence-based practices, LDA and NCLD felt it was of critical importance that IES and NCSER hear from families and practitioners with… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – October 2014

  Coalition Issues Roadmap for Teacher and Administrator Quality The Coalition on Teacher Quality (CTQ), a national coalition of more than 100 local, state, and national organizations, including LDA, has just issued two seminal documents to address the professional preparation of teachers and principals and the strategies for building a continuum of excellence.  CTQ has combined the commitment and expertise of individuals from civil rights, disability, parent, student, community, and education groups to reach consensus on a new comprehensive framework for teaching quality that focuses on ensuring a fully prepared and effective educator in every classroom.   Profession-Ready Teachers and… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – September 2014

Congressional Committee Holds Hearing on Dyslexia In late September the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, chaired by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), held a hearing on the “science of dyslexia.”  Smith stated in his opening remarks that one in five students has dyslexia or an attention issue, teachers lack training to address these students’ needs, and too few schools have specialized programs. He stated his goal as turning the “disability into possibility,” noting the significant contributions individuals with dyslexia have made to society.  Ranking committee member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), agreed the issue is complex and called for greater… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – July 2014

  Get Involved in Your State’s SSIP Development LDA has been reporting over the last several months on the new Results Driven Accountability (RDA) system, which has not officially been released by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). We are now urging LDA members, as individuals or through your State affiliates, to get involved in the development of a key component of this new special education accountability process.   RDA is the new process by which OSEP is now monitoring and evaluating States’ implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  Over a number… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – June 2014

Bipartisan Workforce Bill Moving to a Vote This summer Congress is set to pass the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) through a bipartisan, bicameral bill known as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). With Congress at loggerheads over most legislation, the fact they have moved toward passage of this important legislation is in itself significant.  The House passed a version of WIA in March 2013 with bipartisan support, and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed its version, also overwhelmingly bipartisan, in July.  After intensive negotiations, in May 2014 House and Senate leaders introduced the… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – May 2014

Appropriators Hope for Return to Regular Order In the congressional appropriations (spending/funding) process, “regular order” means passing bills through subcommittee and full committee and then passage on the floor of the House or Senate.  This orderly process of determining spending for the next federal fiscal year (FY) has been out of whack for quite a few years.  Now Senate Appropriations Chairman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) have stated they are determined to return to regular order for Fiscal Year 2015, which begins on October 1, 2014.  LDA follows most closely the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education… Read More »