With the recent buzz around the 2016 Presidential Election candidates, it’s easy to get swept up in all the media coverage. This post serves as a recap of recent political developments that benefit people with disabilities living in the United States. In our own state of California, there is a Senate Select Committee on Autism and a larger committee for mental health as a whole. These committees have the power to spread valuable information and change policy that benefits the lives of those with disabilities, which is definitely something to keep in mind this election season!
National political activity
Two weeks ago, the US Senate approved a bill to fund tracking devices to support children with developmental disabilities that are prone to wander away from home. The US Justice Department will allocate $2 million in grants annually to law enforcement agencies who will buy tracking devices and fund training to increase situational awareness for children who are prone to run. The bill needs the approval of the US House of Representatives to become a law.
California state political activity
The California Senate Select Committee on Autism and Related Disorders has a rich resource catalog as well as information about past legislation. The committee is run by two policy consultants and their contact information is available, so reach out about any questions or recent updates specific to Autism and other related disorders. Be sure to browse through the Senate Select Committee on Autism’s website.
There is also a Senate Select Committee on Mental Health that is comprised of 10 State Senators including the committee chair, Senator Jim Beall. Senator Beall spearheaded the Mental Health Parity Enforcement Budget Act (2015), an effort to ensure people with disabilities received the treatment guaranteed under their insurance plans. With continued pressure this past year, the committee saw success as California Governor Jerry Brown granted $350,000 in funding for additional state mental health consulting services. State Senators are fighting to pass additional meaningful legislation on top of the recent funding and believe more can be done to support people with disabilities in California.
So as the political conversation continues, and is amplified at the national level, be sure to keep in mind some of the developments happening at a national or even community scale that would positively impact the lives of people with disabilities.
Written by Evan DeVries for Thompson Policy Institute