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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Update: Tax Bill Moves to Conference – Keep Taking Action!

On Monday we sent an alert about the Senate passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. At that point, it was unclear whether the House would approve the Senate’s version of the bill or go to conference to resolve the differences between the two bills. Monday night the House approved a motion to go to conference, and the Senate approved a similar motion last night. Very soon, selected members of the House and Senate will work together to reconcile the differences between their bills.

A NCIL Member holds a sign that reads "Justice Not Just Us" at the 2017 Annual Conference on Independent LivingWhat this means is that where there are differences between the two bills, any provision in either version can be included in the final bill. Problems that were only in the House bill, like the elimination of the medical expense deduction and the credit for businesses to become more accessible, may still end up in the final bill.  And problems that were only in the Senate bill, like the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, may also end up in final bill.

But regardless of which of the conflicting provisions end up in the final bill, one certainty remains: as a whole, both of these bills will give huge tax cuts to rich people and corporations while putting the programs people with disabilities need in jeopardy. Both bills would add $1.5 trillion to the deficit, resulting in hundreds of billions of dollars being taken from the programs we rely on. This bill is fundamentally flawed, and nothing that can be done in conference can fix it.

That said, going to conference means we still have time to take action! While much of the activity of the conference committee will happen behind closed doors, we will continue to follow the activity and provide updates. Because Congress has other time-sensitive issues to focus on – including passing a continuing resolution to keep the government funded past Friday- we will most likely not see votes on this until next week at the earliest. In the meantime, committee members have some big decisions to make, and they need to hear from their constituents! And, once the conference committee makes their decisions and votes on a final bill, both the House and the Senate will have to vote one more time on the new bill.

Take Action!

As we wrote in our last alert, this is not over yet. It’s critical that we keep the pressure on our members of Congress! Contact your Senators and Representatives and tell them to vote NO on the tax bill! It is important for all members of Congress to be contacted, but it’s especially important if they are conference committee members! The Democratic Senate appointees have not been determined at this point, but all House appointees and Senate Republican appointees can be found below. Things may move quickly, so there’s no time to waste. Call now!  [Read more…]

2017 Outcomes: Showcase Your Independent Living Organization!

Deadline: January 19, 2018

Dear NCIL Members,

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingPlease take just a few moments to send NCIL one or two of your Center, SILC, or other Independent Living organization’s biggest accomplishments of 2017 and a photo that represents you or your work.

We are collecting your outcomes and photos for our upcoming Congressional Briefing and 2017 Annual Report.

Photos and accomplishments from our members made the 2016 Annual Report something really special and we can’t wait to see what you did in 2017!

Please send accomplishments in the form of outcomes.

  • Individual advocacy example: “Anytown Center for Independent Living assisted 42 youth with disabilities to successfully transition from high school to college and / or employment. Those young people are now leaders and role models for younger children with disabilities.”
  • Systems advocacy example: Anytown Center for Independent Living worked with the SILC to develop state legislation to restrict certificates that allow businesses to pay employees with disabilities less than minimum wage.”

These are only examples; feel free to get creative! Please keep submissions as concise as possible. Submit your accomplishments via email to eleanor@ncil.org by Friday, January 19, 2018.

Thank you!

Tax Bill Passes Senate: Fight Moves Back to the House!

THANK YOU to everyone who has taken action to fight the GOP’s tax bills. In the very early hours of Saturday morning, the Senate voted to pass their version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Every Republican except one voted for the bill, with no Democratic support.

This is bad news, but it’s not over yet. The House now needs to decide whether they will work with the Senate to reconcile the differences between the two bills by going to conference, or they can forego that process and vote on the Senate version – and this can happen as early as today!

A NCIL member holds a sign that reads "People Not Profits" at the 2017 Annual Conference on Independent LivingThe fate of this bill is in our Representatives’ hands. It is vital that they hear from you today! Take Action Now!

  • Find your Representative’s number at Contacting Congress or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY).
  • Use Resistbot to turn your text into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters.
  • Fax your Representative (use faxzero.com to find their fax number).
  • Email, post on Facebook, or Tweet your Representative with information on Contacting Congress.

Tell them:

  • Repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate will significantly increase premiums and 13 million fewer people will have insurance.
  • Increasing the deficit by over $1 trillion sets the stage for slashing Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and other vital programs disabled people rely on.
  • By triggering the “Pay-As-You-Go” (PAYGO) Budget Rule, this bill will automatically force billions in cuts – and in some cases, total elimination – to essential programs including Medicare and Vocational Rehabilitation basic State grants.

Everyone should call their Representatives today, but there some Representatives that have been identified as high priority targets. If you live in these states, or if you know people who do, please make sure they are contacted!  [Read more…]

Keep Fighting the Tax Bill and Participate in Today’s National Call-In Day!

The Senate is getting closer to passing their dangerous tax bill, with a vote expected as early as Thursday. We have a very short window to stop this bill from passing, so immediate action is critical!

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingTake Action Now!

  • Participate in the National CallIn Day! Wednesday, November 29 is a national disability community call-in day. You can find more information at the Facebook event. Please participate in the event and share it with your networks!
  • Keep calling your Senators! Keep calling your Senators DAILY until they commit to voting no on the tax bill! You can find your Senators’ numbers at Contacting Congress or you can reach them by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY).
  • Other ways to contact your Senators: Use Resistbot to have your texts turned into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters. Fax your Senator (use faxzero.com to find your Senator’s fax number). And find your Senator’s email address, Facebook page, Twitter handle, and other information through Contacting Congress.
  • Get others involved! Educate your family and friends about why this tax bill is so harmful to disabled people. Share the National Call-In Day’s Facebook event, and post information on social media using the hashtag #TaxOnDisability.

This bill would be devastating to people with disabilities. It would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which would result in significant premium increases and 13 million fewer people having insurance. It would cause a massive $1.5 trillion increase in the deficit, which would set the stage for slashing Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and other vital programs. Additionally, the increase to the deficit would trigger the “Pay-As-You-Go” Budget Rule (PAYGO), which would automatically force billions of dollars in cuts to essential mandatory programs, including $25 billion in cuts to Medicare and the potential elimination of Vocational Rehabilitation basic State grants. This bill would harm our community in countless ways, with hundreds of billions of dollars being snatched away from programs we need and handed over to the people who need it the least. Read about our additional concerns with the House version. For additional information, see our two previous alerts:

Right now, one thing is for sure: Congress plans to provide tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations at the expense of everyone else, and disabled people will be hit hard. If this bill passes, the rich will become richer, and we’ll foot the bill. The Senate’s tax bill is an attack on the disability community, and it’s on us to stop it! Take action!

Accessibility Remains a Challenge for Voters with Disabilities

Over the past two years, the media and the country have taken note of the disability community’s massive political interest and power. In 2016, the #CripTheVote and #RevUp campaigns created spaces for the disability community to rally as a voting bloc. More recently, ADAPT made headlines nationwide for their summer protests of repeal bills for the Affordable Care Act. Now that 2017 and its local and state elections are over, all eyes are looking toward 2018 midterms and how the disability community will impact those elections. However, the bigger question is: what still needs to be fixed before 2018 to ensure that people with disabilities have the same access to the vote as non-disabled voters?

VOTE Emblem features the universal sybol of accessibility holding a paper with Choice check marked and Option uncheckedUnfortunately, voting access hasn’t grown as the same rate as recognition of voters with disabilities. Recently, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released their survey of polling places during the 2016 election. This survey found that of the polling places they studied, 60 percent of polling places had barriers outside the polling place that could impede a disabled voter’s access to the vote. Inside, 65 percent of the polling places they surveyed had at least one impediment to casting a ballot for people with disabilities. Despite laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) that mandate accessibility for polling places, compliance with these laws and voting access in general still has a long way to go to achieve true accessibility. Sadly, this statistic isn’t surprising, as a study performed at Rutgers University in 2012 found that during the presidential election, over 30 percent of voters with disabilities surveyed encountered at least one difficulty in casting their ballot, while only 8.4 percent of voters without disabilities encountered difficulty. There is still a massive disparity in voting access for people with disabilities.  [Read more…]

NCIL Medicaid Buy-In Task Force Seeks Personal Stories from Beneficiaries

The Medicaid Buy-In (MBI) Task Force of the NCIL Employment Subcommittee has been working for more than a year on two policy proposals that would remove work disincentives for people with disabilities of retirement age or older. We have already had meetings with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Congressional staff, and we are looking for your help to move these proposals forward.

We need the NCIL membership to help identify individuals who fit in either of these two situations / scenarios:

  1. Childhood Disability Beneficiaries (CDB) who are past or reaching full retirement age – within a year or two. We want to change SSA rules so that a CDB would have the same work rules (lack of earning restriction) that all SSA retirees have at full age of retirement. As the rules stand now, they have to continue with SSDI work rules even past age of full retirement.
  2. Beneficiaries using the Medicaid-Buy-In who are approaching or passed age 65. We are proposing a change to Ticket to Work legislation to remove the current age limit (65), or at least make it full age of retirement.

Upon identifying these individuals, we are hoping to cultivate personal stories to be provided to elected officials, SSA staff, etc. to help bolster our policy ideas and arguments. Because we have some great momentum on our policy ideas, the value of these stories cannot be overstated and will play a critical role in continuing to move these ideas forward.

Please contact the Employment Subcommittee Co-Chairs, Sam Liss (sliss_980@comcast.net) or James Turner (jturner@lincidaho.org).

NDLA Urges Congress to Pass a Clean DREAM Act

Coalition Calls for Disability Support of Pro-Immigrant Policy and Programs

NDLA Logo - National Disability Leadership Alliance - Nothing About Us Without UsThe National Disability Leadership Alliance, of which NCIL is a proud member organization, calls on the United States Congress to develop and pass into law the DREAM Act, legislation that would restore protections and services under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA Program gives around 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children the opportunity to work and study in this country without the threat of deportation. Recipients of DACA have registered with the United States, submitted to deep background checks, and are engaging with their communities.

DACA is critical for immigrants with disabilities. Some immigrants with disabilities are in the United States in order to receive disability related supports and care that are not available in their country of origin. Without the program, DACA recipients who are disabled immigrants face the threat of medical deportation. Also, some DACA recipients are home care workers or personal assistants, providing critical support for people with disabilities. Without that support, people with disabilities would lose their link to live in their own homes instead of institutions. Read more at disabilityleadership.org.

EIN SOF Recruiting Electronics Users with Disabilities for Focus Groups in San Francisco and DC

EIN SOF is recruiting electronics users with disabilities for eight disability-specific focus groups in:

  • San Francisco, CA – Sunday, December 3 (1:00-8:00 p.m.) and Monday, December 4 (2:00-9:00 p.m.)
  • Washington, DC – Wednesday, December 6 and Thursday, December 7 (2:00-9:00 p.m.)

If you or someone you know might be interested in being considered and is available on the above dates, please email Tari Hartman Squire at Tarish@mac.com with the Subject Line: “SF Focus Group” or “DC Focus Group”.

Specifically, they are looking for electronics users with disabilities in the following categories:

  • Deaf
  • Hard of Hearing
  • Blind
  • Low Vision
  • Mobility Disability
  • Limited Dexterity
  • Autistic
  • Parent of Child with Autism

Kill the Tax Bill Over the Recess!

The House passed their tax bill yesterday, and the Senate is expected to vote on their bill when they return from recess. Congress will be back home until November 26, which means that local action is critical to prevent this terrible bill from becoming law!

The Senate’s tax bill is an unquestionable threat to the disability community. If this bill passes, disabled people will lose access to programs and services to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy. People will lose their health care to help the rich get richer. This bill is an attack on our community, and it’s on us to ensure that it does not become law.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingTake Action Now!

When the Senate tried to decimate Medicaid and destroy the healthcare system, our community led this country to victory. Now, we need to come together and do it again! Over the recess, we must demand that our Senators commit to voting no on any bill that will pay for tax cuts for the wealthy by cutting programs people with disabilities depend on. Here are some of the ways you can take action.

  • Set up a meeting: Meet with your Senators in their local offices. Bring other disabled people so you can share your stories and tell them how harmful this bill will be for their constituents.
  • Talk to your Senators at local events: Is your Senator hosting a town hall? Are they making a showing at your town’s Thanksgiving Day parade? Use these events as an opportunity to approach your Senators and tell them why they need to oppose this bill.
  • Set up a protest: If your Senators won’t commit to opposing this bill, set up a protest at their offices! Coordinate with local ADAPT chapters and other disability activists and give them no other choice but to listen to your concerns.
  • Call your Senators: Continue to call your Senators DAILY and demand they vote no on this bill. Use the Senate Directory to find your Senator’s contact information or reach your Senators’ staff in DC by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY).
  • Tweet at your Senators: Find their Twitter handles at Contacting Congress, and use the hashtag #TaxOnDisability.
  • Find other ways to contact your Senators: Fax your Senator (use faxzero.com to find your Senator’s fax number). Use Resistbot to have your texts turned into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters. And find your Senator’s email address, Twitter handle, and other information through Contacting Congress.

[Read more…]

Sign-Up for NCIL’s Youth Transitions Email List

Are you struggling to find ways to incorporate youth transition into your Center’s programs? Have you found a set of youth transition practices that work well, that you would be willing to share with other Centers for Independent Living?

35th Anniversary Logo: NCIL – National Council on Independent Living. Celebrating 35 Years of Advocacy. Graphic features party candles.If you believe in the capacity of young people with disabilities and want to learn more about best practices, or if you would like to share your wisdom, then consider joining the NCIL Youth Transitions Coordinators Email List. You need not be a Youth Transitions Coordinator by title to join the list; anyone who works with or would like to learn more about working with youth is welcome.

Those who join the list will:

  • Be notified about upcoming calls to discuss youth transition best practices
  • Be able to network with others concerned with youth transition
  • Receive announcements regarding fruitful opportunities for youth, which can be disseminated as appropriate
  • Have a forum through which they can get their questions answered

Sign-Up for NCIL’s Youth Transitions Email List.

If you have any questions, please contact Hindley Williams, Youth Transitions Fellow, at hindley@ncil.org.