On April 30, the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities held its first hearing of the session which focused mainly on bills related to the Department of Developmental Services (DDS). Four bills of concern to The Arc were heard with Nicky’s Law (joined with Dana’s Law, and otherwise known as the Abuse Registry Bill) being first on the panel’s list.
The hearing was well-attended by both legislators and families. Chairs Kay Khan and Sonia Chang-Diaz led the hearing, which marked the first one with the new Senate Chair of the committee. Powerful testimony from bill sponsors Sen. Michael Moore and Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, as well as Cheryl Ryan Chan, Nicky’s mother, led the session.
The Arc’s Maura Sullivan and Leo Sarkissian followed Rep. Richard Haggerty, who also provided positive testimony. Disability Law Center attorneys Rick Glassman and Hillary Dunn Stanisz testified with Ann Joyce, mother of Dana. Senator Pat O’Connor, who had consolidated his registry bill with Sen. Moore’s during last session, testified as well.
As promised by Chair Khan, Nicky’s Law (the Abuse Registry Bill) was first on the list and supporters came out strong with nearly 20 testimonies and even more people in attendance in the audience.
Thank you to the many families and individuals who appeared to testify or to support testimony, including Paul Willenbrock, Dianne Glennon (both GA committee members), Susan Senator, Jeanne Clapper, Mary Beth Pilon, Cathy Boyle, Anna Eves, Richard Buckley, and many others. All who provided testimony hoped for the bill to pass early during this session. The committee has been very supportive of the registry. Before the bill can go to both chambers for a vote, it must pass through both Ways and Means Committees since there will be a cost to implementation.
The Arc also supports bills to change language in statute (outmoded terms including retardation, a bill for which Chair Khan is the sponsor) and address corrections in Disabled Persons Protection Commission’s statute (sponsored by Sen. Keenan). A bill to ensure life-support equipment is regularly checked at programs was filed for the first time. Hopefully this requirement can be addressed sooner by regulation.