♥ Find Your Representatives ● Track a Bill ● How a Bill Becomes Law ♥
The CDSC supports legislation that benefits people who have Down syndrome at the state and national levels. We are affiliated with the National Down Syndrome Society’s Governmental Affairs Committee, and the Connecticut Family Empowerment Task Force. We encourage you to contact your local, state and federal representatives and educate them about issues important to your family.
The website www.cga.ct.gov is a tremendous source for information about the Connecticut General Assembly. You can find just about everything you need to advocate for legislation at the state level there. Find your representatives here. Here is a link you can use to track a bill as it moves through the General Assembly.
This page on the Connecticut General Assembly page also lists federal representatives. Use this link at the U.S. Library of Congress to track a bill through the House and Senate. View a diagram of how a bill becomes law at the national level at Lexis/Nexis.
Federal Legislation to Watch
Transition to Independence Act (S.1604)This bill, if passed into law, would establish the Transition to Independence demonstration program. The demonstration program will give ten Medicaid Buy-In states (states where individuals can buy into Medicaid while working) an opportunity to receive bonus payments from Medicaid for meeting benchmarks that reduce subminimum wage work and increase integrated employment. There are currently 44 Medicaid Buy-In states. For an explanation of the Medicaid Buy-In program, go to this link.
The goals of the Transition to Independence bill are to:
- Improve opportunities for people with disabilities to obtain integrated employment and reduce their reliance on subminimum wages and segregated environments.
- Reform and coordinate systems to offer cost-effective supports and services to people with disabilities, consistent with the rising expectations of and for people with disabilities.
- Ensure that people with disabilities and their families regularly receive accurate information about and have access to services and supports that promote self-determination, independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion.
The TIME Act (Transition to Integrated and Meaningful Employment)
The TIME Act will modernize the Fair Labor Standards Act to encourage competitive employment for persons with disabilities.
Currently, employers can receive certificates from the Labor Department that allow them to pay workers subminimum wages. The TIME Act would bar the Labor Department from issuing new certificates, and would phase out the use of existing certificates within three years. Since it was introduced in 2015, the legislation has failed to gain much traction. However, both political parties are now recognizing that this issue needs to be addressed.
The National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) is opposed to sub-minimum wage, but recognizes that the transition from these jobs to competitive employment will take time, especially for individuals who have been in sub-minimum wage jobs for years. We encourage a long but steady phase-out to regular jobs.
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
The re-authorization (amendment) of the Rehabilitation Act was completed in July 2014. This new law is known as WIOA. A key purpose of WIOA is to increase competitive, integrated employment opportunities and outcomes for individuals with disabilities.
WIOA is expected to present opportunities for students and adults with Down syndrome and other disabilities to work in integrated, competitive employment. However, funds are limited and services are not an entitlement (as with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – IDEA). Parents need to be forceful about advocating for their children when transition begins in high school. A helpful policy brief to read about WIOA and a seamless transition for students with significant disabilities was prepared for the Collaboration to Promote Self Determination, a coalition in which NDSC is a member. The brief can be found here.
A new provision in WIOA prohibits schools from entering into contracts with sheltered workshops that segregate people with disabilities and pay subminimum wage to their workers.