ABLE Act overwhelmingly passes U.S. Senate;
moves on to President Obama
Article from Disability Scoop
The U.S. Senate has voted overwhelmingly to send legislation to the president establishing a new way for people with disabilities to save money without risking their government benefits.
Lawmakers voted 76 to 16 to approve the bill as part of a package of tax measures Tuesday evening. The legislation will now go to President Barack Obama to sign.
Originally known as the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act, the legislation which has been under consideration since 2006 was recently renamed the Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014. A longtime proponent of the bill, Beck died unexpectedly earlier this month.
The ABLE Act would allow people with disabilities to establish special accounts where they could save money to pay for education, health care, transportation, housing and other expenses. Individuals could deposit up to $14,000 annually under current gift-tax limitations and accrue as much as $100,000 without risking eligibility for Social Security and other government programs.
Meanwhile, the bill ensures that people with disabilities can retain Medicaid coverage no matter how much money is saved in their ABLE account.
“This landmark legislation puts a stake in the ground that people with disabilities, for the first time ever, can work and save money for the future,” said Sara Weir, interim president of the National Down Syndrome Society.
The accounts are modeled after 529 college savings plans and interest earned on savings would be tax-free.
The bill does include some limitations, however. Each person may only have one ABLE account and to qualify a person must have a condition that occurred before the age of 26.
“It’s utterly unacceptable that our current laws doom a child born with a disability to a lifetime of poverty and dependence,” said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., one of the measure’s chief sponsors. “The ABLE Act will take the first critical step in ending this injustice.”
SC looks to move forward with special education diplomas
SC’s Senator John L. Scott, Jr. is sponsoring a bill to amend state laws allowing the Department of Education to award a special education diploma instead of a certificate of attendance to students with special needs. The bill was pre filed and referred to the education committee on Dec. 3.
The bill states that students assigned to a special education program and upon completing an IEP in certain circumstances will receive a special education diploma.
Contact Sen. Scott with any questions, concerns or comments. As always, never hesitate to contact your representative regarding any special education or disability viewpoints.
The bill summary as stated on SC’s legislative website is as follows:
A bill to amend the code of laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding section 59-39-105 so as to provide that the state Department of Education shall award a special education diploma instead of a certificate of attendance or other certificate to a handicapped high school student lawfully assigned to a special education program and who completes an individual education plan in certain circumstances, to require the state board of education to develop and to adopt related alternate assessments to existing statewide assessments, to provide these alternate assessments must be administered to special education students in certain circumstances, to provide a special education student’s individualized education program must serve as an alternate assessment for the student, and to provide requirements for special education diplomas and the status of recipients of special education diplomas as being high school graduates; to amend section 59-33-20, relating to definitions concerning special education for handicapped children, so as to define necessary terminology.
Going out of town for Christmas?
Christmas is less than a week away. That’s right; less than a week to listen nonstop to Christmas music, drink hot cocoa in SC’s warm winter weather, and figure out what to get that hard to shop for person. It’s also a time for traveling to see family, friends and whomever you like to spend time with.
Check out these tips from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department:
— Check and service your vehicle before heading on a road trip.
— Have your mechanic check your spare tire, fluid levels and other preventative maintenance procedures.
— Consider keeping spare fuses and a breakdown kid in your vehicle.
— Keep a map or GPS in your car
— Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
— Select well-traveled and lighted thoroughfares. Try to avoid less-traveled roads as much as you can especially at night or in unfamiliar locations.
— When driving, keep doors locked and windows rolled up.
— Don’t pick up hitchikers.
— Maintain at least half a tank of fuel.
— Check for construction detours. Check conditions before leaving by visiting the Federal Highway Administration’s webpage.
— Most states and or state law enforcement agencies provide road and highway information online or via a 1-800-number.
— Visit http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/trafficinfo/index.htm for national, regional and state by state links regarding traffic, closures and other conditions.
What’s in a breakdown kit?
— Thermal blanket/bag
— Gallon of water
— HELP sign or flag and flares/reflectors
— Flashlight with batteries
— Duct tape
— Jumper cables, tire gauge, work gloves
— Hand tools (pliers, screwdrivers, Allen wrenches)
— Rope, bungee cord, towels, toilet paper
— Small 12-volt tire inflator
— Empty one-galon gas can
— Basic first aid kit
— Small ABC-rated portable fire extinguisher securely mounted
For more holiday safety tips, contact the Richland County Sheriff’s Department Community Action Team at 803-576-3191.
Let’s continue growing Mixed Greens
The Mixed Greens team had fun planting flower bulbs at an Aldersgate home in Columbia on Dec. 13. Thanks to Elisabeth and all the residents and volunteers who made it happen. We can’t wait to watch these flowers pop up next year.
We are looking forward to more opportunities next year for Mixed Greens. If you are interested in volunteering or helping out in any way, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or talk or text to 803-479-8773 for more information. College students/College age students are encouraged to apply! Don’t forget follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PlantYourselfCola for news and updates.
Other Arc Midlands sponsored programs:
Mixed Greens is an awesome community gardens and projects group with fun and inclusive activities to be scheduled throughout the year
Walk with Ease – is about getting people in the community together to promote and increase physical activity and build new friendships. The program includes people with and without developmental and intellectual disabilities that walk with one another. It’s a great way for people to meet friends and stay active! We offer structured 18 week programs onsite (schools and residential settings) and weekly Saturday walks.
Wings for Autism: The Arc of the Midlands in collaboration with The Arc of South Carolina, Pro Parents, and SC Autism society are planning to implement a Wings for Autism program in Augusta, GA and Columbia, SC in spring 2015. Wings for Autism® is an airport “rehearsal” specially designed for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and other intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families and aviation professionals.
NCCJD Chapter Champions for Justice: Through this program, The Arc of the Midlands will help build the capacity of the criminal justice system to effectively identify, serve and protect people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), many of whom have “mild” disabilities that often go unnoticed among criminal justice professionals without appropriate training. Follow NCCJD on Facebook!
Project Search is a business-led collaboration that enables young adults with disabilities to gain and maintain employment through training and career exploration! The Arc of the Midlands in partnership with the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department and Lexington School District 1 has been awarded a grant through the South Carolina Developmental Disabilities Council to develop a Project Search site in the Columbia area.
Shake off that negativity. Check out this video from The Arc of San Francisco!
This video was made by students from AccessSFUSD: The Arc’s Dance Video Class. This group involves a collaboration between Transition students and clients of The Arc San Francisco. We are so excited to share out latest Dance Video Project with you! Click here and sing along. Try not to smile; we dare you!
Inspiration for your Friday: