[Tall-Corn] FW: Updates on state and federal legislation

Scott Van Gorp svangorp at nfbi.org
Thu Apr 18 01:02:37 UTC 2019

Please see the below note from Director Wharton with more details on the IDB budget and an update on some federal updates as well.




Scott Van Gorp, President
National Federation of the Blind of Iowa
Phone: 515-720-5282
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From: Emily Wharton [mailto:Emily.Wharton at blind.state.ia.us] 
Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2019 9:06 AM
Subject: Updates on state and federal legislation


Good morning, Our appropriation continues to move through the Senate with the recommended  appropriation of $2,247,499 and 79 FTE, which is sufficient to meet our needs in the coming year. Soon we will start working on our 2021 needs and possible inclusion of a capital request for building  upgrades.  We  are needing to add kitchen facilities to 2S to allow  us to do more short term VR and IL trainings. We also need to complete our youth library and the other aspects of our first floor project. We are looking at other sources including grants and SSA reimbursement, but if sufficient funds are not obtained before the fall, we will look at making a capital ask.  

Below is a memo on a federal issue that is also quite relevant to us here in Iowa that I thought I should share with you.      






To: NCSAB Membership


From: Fred Schroeder


Subject: House Members Call on Secretary DeVos to Issue New Guidance on Integrated Employment


Date: April 17, 2019


At the Spring Conference last week, we discussed the anticipated opening of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) definitions section of the regulations. Ever since the regulations were issued nearly three years ago, advocates of facility based and congregated work settings have argued that the regulations unfairly limit access to good jobs for people with disabilities. Specifically, they argue that the WIOA definition of an employment outcome has resulted in vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies stopping altogether referrals of people with disabilities to AbilityOne and other jobs available under state use contracts. 


Over a year ago, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee surveyed VR agencies and found that agencies evaluate potential jobs on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they do or do not meet the statutory and regulatory definitions of an integrated setting. Nevertheless, AbilityOne and other congregated work advocates, through their national advocacy organization, ACCSES, continue to claim that people with disabilities are being denied access to high quality employment. Specifically, they claim that at least twenty VR agencies make no referrals of VR consumers to AbilityOne jobs. 


The statute requires that VR agencies assist individuals with disabilities to achieve competitive integrated employment (CIE). ACCSES has conflated the concept of CIE with what it calls “good jobs.” In other words, ACCSES argues that if a job is a “good job,” it must therefore meet the definition of CIE. The law does not speak to good versus bad jobs, only integrated versus nonintegrated jobs. Still, ACCSES has gained the attention of a number of lawmakers. 


On Thursday, April 11, seven House Republicans sent Secretary DeVos a letter asking her to eliminate WIOA guidance that they claim is limiting job opportunities for people with disabilities. The letter reads in part:


"As a result of the agency's sub-regulatory FAQs, many state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies have adopted a 'blanket denial' approach instead of conducting a case-by-case determination for employment opportunities in AbilityOne and State Use programs as required by WIOA. As you know, the AbilityOne Program is the largest source of employment in the United States for individuals who are blind or have significant disabilities. More than 500 nonprofit agencies participating in the Program employed nearly 44,000 individuals who are blind or have significant disabilities in Fiscal Year 2018.


We have heard from employers from across the country that nearly 20 state VR agencies have partially or completely stopped referring individuals with disabilities to AbilityOne and State Use employment. Unfortunately, the blanket denials of referrals to AbilityOne and State Use jobs deprive people with significant disabilities from being referred to valuable employment opportunities in a wide variety of settings, including in federal and state government buildings. . . . Given the need to support valuable employment opportunities for people with disabilities, we request that you direct your agency to rescind the RSA's current guidance and instead promulgate new rules by which the state VR agencies will conduct case-by-case determinations for each AbilityOne and State Use job that may be considered competitive integrated employment under WIOA. In addition, we strongly encourage you to visit an AbilityOne nonprofit agency in the coming weeks so that you can witness, first hand, the important work the nonprofit agencies do in providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities." 


ACCSES assisted in drafting the letter. The letter can be found at:

 <https://accses.org/CMS/Resources/dropbox/congressabilityonelettertodevos041119.pdf> https://accses.org/CMS/Resources/dropbox/congressabilityonelettertodevos041119.pdf)


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