History of the Council
Since 1971, the Council has successfully worked to improve the lives of people with disabilities. The Council is well known for its role in closing Laconia State School, helping NH to become the first state to free all its citizens from institutions in 1991. For nearly a century, Laconia had deprived citizens with disabilities of their basic human rights to live freely in the community, get a job, make their own choices, and lead full and normal lives. The federal court used the Council’s proposed master plan, called "Action for Independence," as the blueprint for closing Laconia, freeing all of its residents, and providing these residents with a home and the supports they needed to live as independent citizens in the community.
Senate Bill 396: Seclusion and restraint
In June of 2014, the Council worked with the Disability Rights Center to pass Senate Bill 396, which amended the 2010 law dealing with seclusion and restraint of children with disabilities. SB 396: limits the use of child restraint practices in facilities and schools; limits the use of seclusion and adds new protections for when seclusion is used; adds prompt parental notification requirements; and adds new reporting and data keeping requirements for schools and facilities.
Senate Bill 47: The Subminimum Wage Act
In 2015, the Council took the lead on SB 47, the Subminimum Wage Act. This is a piece of legislation that forbids employers from paying individuals with disabilities less than the state minimum wage, except for family businesses and practical experience/training programs. It also prohibits employment in sheltered workshops, which previously had been allowed to pay employees just pennies for a day’s work. New Hampshire is the first state in the United States to pass such a law, giving momentum to the national trend to end subminimum payments to individuals with disabilities
Senate Bill 146: Relative to accessory dwelling units
In March of 2016, SB 146 passed. SB 146, relative to accessory dwelling units, addresses part of the housing problem for persons with disabilities by requiring municipalities to allow accessory dwelling units in zoning districts that permit single-family dwellings, either as a matter of right or by special exception. This in turn will increase the supply of affordable and accessible housing options that are integrated in the community for people with disabilities and their caregivers without more infrastructure or land development. Policy Committee members worked with legislators and stakeholders to craft and pass bipartisan legislation.
Governor Hassan signs accessory dwelling units law, the most significant piece of affordable housing legislation to pass in New Hampshire in many years.
Current Policy Involvement
House Budget Hearing
Monday, March 13th
Representatives’ Hall, The State House
Attendance is needed at the House Budget Hearing on Monday, March 13th in Concord, NH! A BIG turnout is critical. Developmental Services funding is on the line and this is your opportunity to let your legislators know the importance of fully funding our person-centered community-based supports and services for people with disabilities.
House Bill 620: An actelative to compliance with state and federal education mandates
"NH’s Legislature is Proposing to Minimize Education / Special Education Rights.
The House Education Committee has voted to recommend that the full House vote to pass HB 620, an Act relative to compliance with state and federal education mandates.
HB 620 will prevent NH’s State Board of Education from proposing any rules that exceed state or federal minimum requirements. It allows the state board to propose a rule that exceeds the minimum federal requirements “only if, and to the extent that, state statute explicitly allows the state board to exceed the minimum requirements of federal law”. This bill targets all education policy, including the special education rules, the NH Rules for the Education of Children with Disabilities."
The above is an excerpt from Bonnie Dunham's HB 620 Alert
Senate Bill 265: "The ABLE Act"
At this time, the Council is involved in the ABLE Act at the state and federal levels. Passed in 2016, SB 265, Establishing the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) savings account program, implements the federal ABLE Act of 2014 for New Hampshire. People with disabilities and their family members can open a tax free 529-A savings accounts to save for medical, housing, transportation, employment training, education and other quality of life expenses, all without making them ineligible for SSI and Medicaid programs. The DD Council took the lead in introducing SB 265 by drafting the legislation, recruiting the sponsor, testifying in support at house and senate hearings, and disseminating information to build support for SB 265. In 2015 and 2016, the Council and Granite State Independent Living submitted comments to the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration with suggestions for simplifying ABLE Act implementation for both beneficiaries and the states.
For more information, click here to view John Kitchen's FAQ guide about ABLE Act Accounts.
A similar act, the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act, currently allows individuals with disabilities to establish their own SNT to hold personal funds. This has been in effect since the act was signed on December 13, 2016. Learn more from the Special Neds Alliance website.
Speech Language Pathology Regulations
The Council is also currently working with the New Hampshire Speech Language Hearing Association on strengthening the regulations on speech language assistants. The Council has submitted draft rules to the Speech Language Pathology Governing Board relative to the responsibilities and supervision of speech-language assistants who provide speech-language pathology services in schools.
Electrical Stimulation Devices
Yet another ongoing concern of the Council is the use of electrical stimulation devices (ESDs), and especially the use of these devices in schools. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed banning ESDs, which are currently legal in some states for the treatment of aggressive or self-injurious behavior. The FDA has found the risks of using ESDs far outweigh any possible benefits, not to mention that the use of these devices is dehumanizing, and violates the DD Act’s mandate for individuals with disabilities to be able to "live free of abuse, neglect, financial and sexual exploitation, and violations of their legal and human rights." A DD Council Policy Committee member submitted a letter of support to the FDA concerning their proposed ban, advocating for the ban to be placed on new devices and those already in use.
Senate Bill 553: Relative to implementation of the Medicaid managed care program
The passing of SB 553 on June 6, 2016, requires the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to develop a plan for implementing the remaining phases of the Medicaid managed care program as established in RSA 126-A:5, XIX.
In response to this new law, a new group has formed: SB 553 Working Group on the Implementation Planning for the Inforportation of Nursing and Choices for Independence Waiver Services Into the New Hampshire Medicaid Care Management Program. This working group typically meets from 10:30 AM - 12 PM in the Legislative Office Building, Rooms 210-211, 33 N State Street, Concord, NH.
To contact the working group, please email SB553ManagedCarePlanning@dhhs.nh.gov.