LDA Legislative News

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

News-in-Brief – January 2013

Sequestration Delayed, Not Resolved As Americans were about to ring in 2013, Congress agreed to a late-night “fiscal cliff” bill that delayed, rather than eliminated, sequestration. Sequestration – automatic across-the-board cuts in most federal programs – has been a looming threat since passage of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to reach an agreement on the Act’s mandate of $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over ten years. In December at the eleventh hour, Congress simply delayed implementation of sequestration until March. Sequestration was set to take effect originally on… Read More »

News-in-Brief – October 2012

Presidential Forum Highlights Disability Issues Five hundred people recently gathered in Columbus, Ohio, with thousands more in viewing parties around the country, to hear surrogates for President Obama and Governor Romney present each candidate’s views on matters of concern to Americans with disabilities. LDA joined with a long list of national organizations to sponsor the National Forum on Disability Issues, held on September 28. This was the only national event focused on disability issues during the presidential election campaign. Thirty-seven million of the approximately 57 million individuals with disabilities are of voting age. “If we’re talking 5 to 8 percent… Read More »

News-in-Brief – September 2012

Continuing Resolution Information Released The last order of business before Congress adjourns until after the election is the passage of a six-month Continuing Resolution (CR), a bill to keep the government operating until final Fiscal Year 2013 (FY 2013) spending levels are set. The House, which is first to take up a bill, states the CR will maintain current FY 2012 funding levels plus an across-the-board increase of 0.612 percent. No new programs will be initiated, and no programs will be eliminated through the CR. While the CR is generally a “clean” bill, meaning no controversial policy riders are attached,… Read More »

News-in-Brief – July 2012

Department Clarifies Impact of Sequestration Questions abound about the potential impact of sequestration, the across-the-board cut of approximately nine percent in most non-defense and defense discretionary programs set to occur on January 2, 2013, right in the middle of the 2012-13 school year. These cuts are designed to reduce the federal deficit and could have long-term serious effects on education and all other federal programs. For IDEA, Title I, and Career and Technical Education, the potential impact would be even greater due to the way funds are distributed in these programs. The U.S. Department of Education has just issued a… Read More »

News-in-Brief – June 2012

LDA Prominent in Fighting Across the Board Cuts LDA is an active participant in a new and very important national network of coalitions, the Non-Defense Discretionary (“NDD”) Summit. Last summer Congress passed the Budget Control Act (BCA) to address deficit reduction. The BCA will trigger a process on January 2, 2013, known as sequestration, an across-the-board 8.4% cut in all federal programs. The NDD Summit is an attempt by all constituencies that are part of the “non-defense discretionary” budget to work together to ensure sequestration does not take effect and to counter efforts to exempt Defense and other security-related government… Read More »

News-in-Brief – May 2012

Sequestration Threat Prompts Worrisome Responses As reported several times here previously (“Super Committee Inaction Triggers Sequestration,” December 2011; “Super Committee Action in Doubt,” November 2011; “Jury is Out on Deficit Reduction Plan,” September 2011), a process called sequestration threatens cuts of around nine percent in all discretionary and some mandatory federal program beginning in January 2013. Sequestration was triggered when the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction failed last fall to reach agreement on how to meet the deficit reduction target. Some members of Congress are focused on averting cuts to the defense budget, prompting others to find ways to… Read More »

News-in-Brief – April 2012

OSEP Rescinds “Maintenance of Effort” Guidance As LDA previously reported (News in Brief, September 2011),the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) issued informal guidance in June 2011 representing a new interpretation of the IDEA local “maintenance of effort” requirement (MOE). The guidance letter said if a school district did not spend all its federal IDEA Part B funds during one fiscal year, its “maintenance of effort” would be reduced in the next fiscal year to the level of the previous year’s actual expenditure. In other words, a school district would have been rewarded if it did… Read More »

News-in-Brief – March 2012

President’s Budget Proposes Growth in Education Spending Kicking off the budget process for federal Fiscal Year 2013 (FY 2013; School Year 2013-14), the president has released his budget proposal. Despite the calls to cut spending, the budget includes a $1.7 billion, or 2.5 percent, increase for education. The Administration states an investment in education is necessary as a proven strategy to increase jobs and boost the country’s economic growth and global competitiveness. The president’s emphasis on education is welcomed. However, some of the details may cause concern. The proposed budget would freeze funding for the foundational elementary and secondary programs,… Read More »

News-in-Brief – February 2012

House ESEA Bill Rethinks Funding and MOE The House Education and Workforce Committee is poised to consider the Student Success Act, a comprehensive bill released in early January by Chairman John Kline (R-MN) to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, currently known as No Child Left Behind). The bill would radically change how funding is configured under current law, moving programs with targeted funding streams for specific student populations under the same section in Title I that funds low-income students. Recommended for consolidation into the larger Title grants are those programs for English language learners, migrant, neglected and… Read More »

News-in-Brief – January 2012

Kline Sets New Path for ESEA Reauthorization Representative John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, has changed his thinking on the best method to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, currently known as No Child Left Behind). Previously he had directed staff to look at the bill incrementally rather than the usual comprehensive approach to the legislation and had hoped for a bipartisan product. However, the introduction of new comprehensive legislation that represents only Republican input may have further compromised the chances of a reauthorization this year. Of three smaller targeted ESEA bills introduced… Read More »

News-in-Brief – December 2011

Super Committee Inaction Triggers Sequestration After months of speculation, the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction–the Super Committee–failed to meet its congressional charge. The Committee’s mandate was to report a plan by November 23 that would produce $1.2 trillion in cuts over ten years, aimed ultimately at putting the country on the road to eliminating the deficit. The “stick” hanging over the Committee, which is still in play, was the threat of sequestration, a process of automatic across-the-board cuts in all discretionary spending: education, health, social services, environmental protection, and all other agencies, including defense and homeland security. More…. With the… Read More »

News-in-Brief – November 2011

Senate HELP Committee Passes ESEA Bill On October 21, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed a comprehensive bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, currently known as No Child Left Behind). All Democrats, joined by three Republican senators, Enzi (WY), Alexander (TN), and Kirk (IL), voted for the bill. LDA produced recommendations for the reauthorization of ESEA in 2007 and has updated them several times over the course of the last few years. These recommendations have been shared and discussed with all members of the Senate and House education committees, and LDA staff… Read More »

News-in-Brief – October 2011

Federal Funding Process Moving Slowly Once again Congress did not complete work on the new federal Fiscal Year, FY 2012, which began on October 1. Currently the government is operating under a continuing resolution (CR), a stopgap measure that keeps federal agencies open until the final appropriations bills are completed. In the past, a CR usually meant continuation of funding at the level of the previous year. However, this CR which expires on November 18 funds programs at the FY 2011 rate minus 1.503 percent. At the same time, Congress is working to finalize FY 2012 appropriations bills. In mid-September… Read More »

News-in-Brief – September 2011

Department Alters Local Maintenance of Effort Interpretation The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education, has issued informal guidance that appears to change its interpretation of the IDEA local maintenance of effort requirement (MOE). The purpose of the MOE provision is to ensure consistency in the amount school districts spend on special education and related services from year to year. The new interpretation, which allows school districts to reduce the amount of funds spent on special education, has the potential to jeopardize important services for students with disabilities. The memo dated June 16, 2011, states that, if… Read More »

News-in-Brief – August 2011

Report Highlights Spending on Children Children’s Budget 2011 was released recently by First Focus, a bipartisan organization that concentrates on making children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. The report reveals that spending on children in the 2011 federal budget dropped by nearly 10 percent from 2010, falling from a five-year high of 9.2 percent to 8.4 percent. “Children” are defined for purposes of the report as individuals age 18 and under. The Budget looks at overall federal spending and specific spending for child welfare, early childhood, education, health, housing, income support, nutrition, and safety. The… Read More »

News-in-Brief – July 2011

House Committee Introduces Funding Flex Bill Representative John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, introduced the third in a series of bills that are part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, currently known as No Child Left Behind). In rolling out the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, Mr. Kline stated the bill “addresses the problem I’ve heard from superintendents all across the country….. It has been perplexing to them and frustrating to schools all across the country that they cannot move money to where they need it.” The bill… Read More »

News-in-Brief – June 2011

House ESEA Reauthorization Bills Move Forward While the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee continues to work to bring an Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill to a committee mark up, the House has begun to consider a series of smaller bills. The first bill, Setting New Priorities in Education Spending Act (H.R. 1891), passed the House in May. Two other bills are under discussion right now, a charter schools bills and a bill on funding flexibility. H.R. 1891 would repeal the authorizations of 43 education programs which are part of the ESEA, including the Even… Read More »

News-in-Brief – May 2011

Appropriations Action Completed for Fiscal Year 2011 Congress finally concluded work on the spending bill for federal Fiscal Year 2011 (FY 2011) seven months after the fiscal year began. Funds for the U.S. Department of Education, not including money for Pell Grants, were cut overall by $1.251 billion or 2.7% below Fiscal Year 2010. Forty-seven education programs were cut, and an additional 38 programs were eliminated. In addition to the program cuts, the final bill had a 0.2% across-the-board cut, so even programs that were listed as frozen took a hit. Five programs, including the president’s priorities – Race to… Read More »

News-in-Brief – April 2011

The Federal Funding Saga Continues After repeated continuing resolutions (CR), Congress appears ready to pass a bill that will fund the government until September 30, the final day of Fiscal Year 2011. Specifics were not available at the time of this article. However, the overall cut to domestic programs will be about $42 billion, with $17.8 billion from mandatory or statutory changes. The overall amount also includes an across-the-board cut of one percent to all programs. As part of the deal, the Senate will take separate votes on several policy riders, including repeal of funds for health care reform and… Read More »

News-in-Brief – March 2011

Striving Readers Funding Jeopardized LDA knows more than most organizations about the difficulties children, youth, and adults encounter if they struggle with reading and writing. To address this critical issue at the secondary level, President George W. Bush proposed the Striving Readers pilot program. In 2010, the pilot was reborn as a more comprehensive literacy initiative covering birth through grade twelve. Now, as forty-six states are using these funds to develop comprehensive literacy programs, funding for the Striving Readers program may be a victim of efforts to address the federal deficit. Striving Readers funds first took a hit when the… Read More »

News-in-Brief – February 2011

President Calls for Education Investments in State of the Union In the 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama called for a “Sputnik” moment in education reform and innovation. The president reiterated his strong commitment to a federal investment in education, despite a critical need to cut spending and reduce the deficit. Meanwhile, as the FY 2012 budget process gets underway, deep cuts in domestic spending seem inevitable (See related article). So what impact with this have on federal education policy, and particularly the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, currently known as No Child Left… Read More »

News-in-Brief – January 2011

ESEA Reauthorization Discussions Move Forward Despite the shift in majority in the House, staff members believe the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, currently known as No Child Left Behind) could move forward. Rep. Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, has stated the reauthorization may come as a series of smaller pieces rather than as comprehensive legislation. House Democrats believe continued bipartisan support for changes to the law could result in legislative action, but haven’t made a definitive statement about the form they prefer. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) may have… Read More »

News-in-Brief – Nov-Dec 2010

LDA Celebrates 35th Anniversary of IDEA On November 18 LDA will join members of Congress and the U.S. Department of Education and other advocates and families in celebrating the 35th anniversary of the signing of Public Law 94-142. Now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), P.L. 94-142 was the first federal statute that guaranteed children and youth with disabilities the right to a free appropriate public education. Signed by President Gerald Ford, the IDEA now affords almost 6.6 million students with disabilities special education services and early intervention services to nearly 350,000 infants and toddlers with disabilities… Read More »

News-in-Brief – October 2010

Poll Reveals Public Attitudes on SLD The fourth Roper Poll on public attitudes about children with learning disabilities has just been released. The poll, commissioned by the Tremaine Foundation, reveals conflicting perceptions – more public understanding about learning disabilities, but also the need for continued public education. For example, while the majority of individuals surveyed support government funding for early identification of learning disabilities, half also responded that learning disabilities are the result of laziness. On a positive note, public responses show increased awareness that individuals with learning disabilities “are just as smart as you and me.” The first Roper… Read More »

News-in-Brief – September 2010

Data Indicate Drop in Students with SLD The 2009 Digest of Education Statistics, issued by the U.S. Department of Education, reports a drop in the 2007-08 school year from 2.9 million to 2.6 million students identified as having specific learning disabilities. While the data indicate an overall decrease in students identified as having disabilities generally under the IDEA, the change in the SLD category is by far the greatest. The important question is what has caused the drop in numbers. The debate has begun over whether these data are linked to changes in education policy, such as Response to Intervention… Read More »