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L.D. 765 is Back

During the last session LD 765 was not passed but is being discussed again during this session.

This bill effects service provision in Maine for people who are blind and visually impaired. Attached you will find information about what LD 765 means for you and how to get involved.

The anticipated date for this LCRED Committee is Wednesday, January 18th. This date is not finalized yet.

Please contact The Iris Network if you are interested in further information or attending this hearing to testify or hear more about what is happening with the bill. www.thiris.org or (207) 774-6273.

What is LD765 and What It Means To You

LD 765 is a bill that simply proposes filling staffing positions in the Maine Vocational Rehabilitation system that are currently unfilled. These positions are positions that have remained unfilled as a result of hiring freezes within the State or are documented shortages. Rehabilitation services in Maine are paid for through a combination of State and Federal tax dollars. Although recipients of these professional services are often not required to pay for them at the time the service is required or needed, they have been paid for through all of our tax contributions over the years. These documented shortages currently affect the amount of time consumers must wait for services to be delivered, or the scope of services available through the Iris Network, Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBVI), and Catholic Charities. If you have received these services in the past, you already recognize their value.

You can participate by:

• 1. Locate your local State Representative ASAP at http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/townlist.htm and call, email, or write your support for this bill. To reach your Representative by phone call
1-800-423-2900 TTY number is 207-287-4469.

To reach your Senator: 1-800-423-6900 TTY number is 207-287-1583

If you wish to speak to a member of the staff, you may call the Clerk of the House at 207-287-1400 or the Office of the Secretary of the Senate at 207-287-1540. They will help you identify your representative.


2. Testify in Augusta! Testimony for this bill will be heard in Augusta by the Joint Standing Committee on Labor on Wednesday January 18 in Rm. 208. You are encouraged to appear in person. If you need transportation, please call Retta Choate at the Iris Network 207-774-6273.

3. If you live in a community represented by one of the Labor Committee’s members appearing in the first list below, it is very important that you contact your representative to express your support for this bill.

4. When the bill passes through the Labor Committee, it will move on to the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations. Please look to see if you live in a community represented by one of the members on this committee (second list below), and write, email or call that representative.

5. Read more information on LD 765 here: http://www.theiris.org/community-connection/discuss/forum/topic/6/16/1/151


Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development (LCRED): http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/jt_com/lce.htm
========================================

Senator Christopher W. Rector (R-Knox), Chair
http://www.maine.gov/legis/senate/bio22s.htm
04843, 04841, 04856, 04864, 04862, 04861, 04854, 04563

30 Knox Street
Thomaston, ME 04861
Phone: (207) 354-6571
Email: cwrector@hotmail.com
State Senate Message Phone: (800) 423-6900 or by calling the office at: (207) 287-1505.
Legislative Aide
diane.johanson@legislature.maine.gov
========================================

Senator Thomas H. Martin, Jr. (R-Kennebec)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/senate/bio25s.htm
04901, 04967, 04910, 04927

1308 Clinton Avenue
Benton, ME 04901
Phone: (207) 453-2484
Email: nitram@roadrunner.com
State Senate Message Phone: (800) 423-6900 or by calling the office at: (207) 287-1505.
Legislative Aide
jay.damon@legislature.maine.gov
=========================================

Senator Troy Dale Jackson (D-Aroostook)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/senate/bio35s.htm
04756, 04743, 04750, 04739, 04736, 04785, 04786, 04736

P.O. Box 221
Fort Kent, ME 04743
Home Telephone:(207)436-0763
Email Form: http://www.mainesenate.org/contact-us/contact-senator-jackson/
=========================================

Representative Kerri L. Prescott (R-Topsham), Chair
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/preskl.htm
04086
Address: 3 Goldeneye Drive, Topsham, ME 04086
Home E-Mail: kerrilprescott@gmail.com
State House Message Phone: (800) 423-2900
State House TTY Line: (207) 287-4469
=========================================
Representative Dana L. Dow (R-Waldoboro)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/dow_dl.htm
04348, 04555, 04572

Address: 30 Kalers Pond Road, Waldoboro, ME 04572
Business Telephone: (207) 832-6363
Fax: (207) 832-7459
Cell Phone: (207) 446-3262
Home E-Mail: danadow2050@yahoo.com
State House Message Phone: (800) 423-2900
State House TTY Line: (207) 287-4469
========================================
Representative Melvin Newendyke (R-Litchfield)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/neweml.htm
04350, 04259

Address: 84 Small Road, Litchfield, ME 04350
State House E-Mail: RepMel.Newendyke@legislature.maine.gov
State House Message Phone: (800) 423-2900
State House TTY Line: (207) 287-4469
=========================================
Representative Amy Fern Volk (R-Scarborough)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/volkaf.htm
04074
Address: 4 Elbridge Oliver Way, Scarborough, ME 04074
Cell Phone: (207) 229-5091
State House E-Mail: RepAmy.Volk@legislature.maine.gov
State House Message Phone: (800) 423-2900
State House TTY Line: (207) 287-4469
=========================================
Representative Frederick L. Wintle (R-Garland)
Athens, Charleston, Dexter, Garland, Harmony and Ripley
04912, 04422, 04930, 04942

Address: 1113 Dover Road, Garland, ME 04939
State House E-Mail: RepFred.Wintle@legislature.maine.gov
State House Message Phone: (800) 423-2900
State House TTY Line: (207) 287-4469
=========================================
Representative John L. Tuttle, Jr. (D-Sanford)*
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/tuttjl.htm
04073

Address: 176 Cottage Street, Sanford, ME 04073
Business Telephone: (207) 772-4459
Fax: (207) 324-9122
Cell Phone: (207) 838-3013
State House E-Mail: RepJohn.Tuttle@legislature.maine.gov
State House Message Phone: (800) 423-2900
State House TTY Line: (207) 287-4469
=========================================
Representative Timothy E. Driscoll (D-Westbrook)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/driste.htm
04092

Address: 111 Monroe Avenue, Westbrook, ME 04092
Cell Phone: (207) 232-5026
State House E-Mail: RepTimothy.Driscoll@legislature.maine.gov
State House Message Phone: (800) 423-2900
State House TTY Line: (207) 287-4469
=========================================
Representative Paul E. Gilbert (D-Jay)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/gilbpe.htm
04239, 04955

Address: P. O. Box 186, Jay, ME 04239
State House E-Mail: RepPaul.Gilbert@legislature.maine.gov
State House Message Phone: (800) 423-2900
State House TTY Line: (207) 287-4469
=========================================
Representative Robert B. Hunt (D-Buxton)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/huntrb.htm
04042
Address: 128 Depot Street, Buxton, ME 04093
Cell Phone: (207) 756-5476
State House E-Mail: RepRob.Hunt@legislature.maine.gov
State House Message Phone: (800) 423-2900
State House TTY Line: (207) 287-4469
=========================================

Representative Erin D. Herbig (D-Belfast)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/herbed.htm
04915

Address: 64A Cedar Street, Belfast, ME 04915
Business Telephone: (207) 338-6575
Cell Phone: (207) 542-7654
State House E-Mail: RepErin.Herbig@legislature.maine.gov
State House Message Phone: (800) 423-2900
State House TTY Line: (207) 287-4469
=========================================
Committee Mailing Address:
Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development
c/o Legislative Information
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
=========================================

Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs:
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/jt_com/afa.htm
=========================================

Senator Richard W. Rosen (R-Hancock), Chair
http://www.maine.gov/legis/senate/bio31s.htm
04619

Sen. Richard Rosen
PO Box 877
Bucksport, ME 04416
Phone: (207) 469-3779
Email: rrosen113@aol.com
Senate Message Phone: (800) 423-6900 or by calling the office at: (207) 287-1505.
Legislative Aide
jay.damon@legislature.maine.gov
========================================

Senator Roger J. Katz (R-Kennebec)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/senate/bio24s.htm
04901, 04963, 04330

3 Westview Street
Augusta, ME 04330
Phone: (207) 485-2394
Email: RKatz@lipmankatzmckee.com
Senate Message Phone: (800) 423-6900 or by calling the office at: (207) 287-1505.
Legislative Aide
meghan.russo@legislature.maine.gov
=========================================

Senator Dawn Hill (D-York)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/senate/bio01s.htm
03908, 03907, 03909, 03903, 03904, 03905

PO Box 701 Cape Neddick, ME 03902 • 207-337-3689
Email: SenDawn.Hill@Legislature.Maine.Gov
=========================================

Representative Patrick S. A. Flood (R-Winthrop), Chair
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/floops.htm
04355, 04364

Address: 56 Wedgewood Drive, Winthrop, ME 04364
Business Telephone: (207) 395-4915
State House E-Mail: RepPatrick.Flood@legislature.maine.gov
=========================================
Representative Tom J. Winsor (R-Norway)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/winstj.htm
04268, 04088, 04289
Address: 107 Thurston Road, Norway, ME 04268
Fax: (207) 527-2233
State House E-Mail: RepTom.Winsor@legislature.maine.gov
=========================================
Representative Kathleen D. Chase (R-Wells)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/chaskd.htm
04090

Address: 142 Branch Road, Wells, ME 04090
Business Telephone: (207) 646-8795
Fax: (207) 646-6343
Cell Phone: (207) 468-9747
State House E-Mail: RepKathleen.Chase@legislature.maine.gov
=========================================
Representative Tyler Clark (R-Easton)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/clarta.htm
04735, 04740, 04742, 04758,
Address: P. O. Box 243, Easton, ME 04740
Cell Phone: (207) 227-6971
State House E-Mail: RepTyler.Clark@legislature.maine.gov
=========================================
Representative Kenneth Wade Fredette (R-Newport)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/fredkw.htm
04928, 04953

Address: P. O. Box 70, Newport, ME 04953
Business Telephone: (207) 368-5562
Fax: (207) 368-5562
Alternate E-Mail: kenneth.fredette@post.harvard.edu
=========================================

Representative Dennis L. Keschl (R-Belgrade)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/kescdl.htm
04917, 04351, 04352

Address: 1024 Wings Mills Road, Belgrade, ME 04917
Cell Phone: (207) 441-3701
State House E-Mail: RepDennis.Keschl@legislature.maine.gov
=========================================
Representative Margaret R. Rotundo (D-Lewiston)*
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/kescdl.htm
04240

Address: 446 College Street, Lewiston, ME 04240
State House Message Phone: (800) 423-2900
State House TTY Line: (207) 287-4469
=========================================
Representative John L. Martin (D-Eagle Lake)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/martjl.htm
04732, 04739, 04743
Address: P. O. Box 250, Eagle Lake, ME 04739
Business Telephone: (207) 834-7568
State House E-Mail: RepJohn.Martin@legislature.maine.gov
State House TTY Line: (207) 287-4469
=========================================
Representative David C. Webster (D-Freeport)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/websdc.htm
04032, 04069
Address: P. O. Box 124, Freeport, ME 04032
Business Telephone: (207) 865-4311
Fax: (207) 865-4311
State House E-Mail: RepDavid.Webster@legislature.maine.gov
State House Message Phone: (800) 423-2900
State House TTY Line: (207) 287-4469
=========================================
Representative Sara R. Stevens (D-Bangor)
http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/hsebios/stevsr.htm
04401

Address: 252 Nowell Road, Bangor, ME 04401
State House E-Mail: RepSara.Stevens@legislature.maine.gov
State House Message Phone: (800) 423-2900
State House TTY Line: (207) 287-4469
=========================================

Committee Mailing Address
Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs
c/o Office of Fiscal and Program Review
5 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333



L.D. 765, H.P. 572
An Act to Address the Documented Educational and Rehabilitation Needs of
Persons Who Are Visually Impaired or Blind

Sponsored by: Rep. Paul Davis, R. Sangerville

Co-sponsors: Rep. Michael Celli, R. Brewer Rep. Kenneth Fredette, R. Newport
Rep. Paul Gilbert, D. Jay Rep. Peter Johnson, R. Greenville
Rep. Beth O’Connor, R. Berwick Rep. Kimberly Olsen, R. Phippsburg
Rep. Wesley Richardson, R. Warren Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess, R. Cumberland
Sen. Michael Thibodeau, R. Winterport

L.D. 765 appropriates $468,678 in FY2012 and $511,987 in FY2013 to hire:

2 Certified Teachers of the Visually Impaired at Catholic Charities Maine;
1 full-time Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist in Rockland;
2 half-time Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapists in Bangor and Houlton;
1 Blindness Program Design and Evaluation Specialist at The Iris Network;
1 Orientation & Mobility Instructor for the Blind at DBVI; and
1 Blindness Rehabilitation Specialist at DBVI.

The need for these positions has been documented in two reports as follows:
1. The report of a public and private stakeholder working group including consumers established to review the current and future needs of blind or visually impaired individuals authorized by the State of Maine through Resolve 2009, chapter 39 which includes the following recommendations:
a. Provide new funding for 11.5 FTEs of professional staff including:
i. 3.5 Teachers of the Visually Impaired,
ii. 2 Orientation and Mobility Instructors,
iii. 1.5 Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors,
iv. 1.5 Vision Rehabilitation Therapists,
v. 2 Blindness Rehabilitation Specialists,
vi. 1 Adjustment to Blindness Counselor.
b. Read the full report athttp://www.theiris.org/get-involved/advocacy; and

2. The recommendations of the Maine Department of Education's corrective action plan work group in regard to DisabilityRightsCenter v. Maine Department of Education dated July 28, 2010
a. The Report includes the following recommendations:
i. Hire four additional Teachers of the Visually Impaired and one additional Orientation and Mobility Instructor,
ii. Raise the salaries of Teachers of the Visually Impaired to $34,733 for entry level with Bachelor’s degree, and $42,754 for entry level with Master’s degree,
iii. Pay tuition costs and an internship stipend for those who wish to become Teachers of the Visually Impaired,
iv. Modify the DOE/DOL Cooperative Agreement to include an annual needs assessment,
v. Form a work group that will determine the scope and nature of the annual needs assessment,
vi. Train school district personnel in the use of the Expanded Core Curriculum as a guide to the development of IEP’s and IFSP’s,
b. Read the full report athttp://www.theiris.org/get-involved/advocacy.

L.D. 765 addresses the immediate crisis documented by the two reports by investing resources to fund staff shortages, thereby:
1. Avoiding a failure by this State to comply with federally mandated levels of special education services for Maine students who are blind or visually impaired;
2. Investing in vocational rehabilitation and job training for transition-age students and young adults with vision loss so that they become part of the tax-paying work force, rather than collecting public assistance for decades to come; and
3. Saving scarce state resources that would otherwise be used for long-term nursing care by investing in compensatory training for older adults with vision loss so they can continue to live independently in their own homes; thus delaying or avoiding unaffordable and unnecessary institutional care.
Funding these positions will invest scarce state resources in teachers, therapists and instructors, rather than spending public funds to fight law suits by parents of blind children for failure by schools to provide a free and appropriate public education as required by federal special education law – an indefensible position that risks loss of federal special education funding for the entire State of Maine.
L.D. 765 also invests in vocational rehabilitation specialists and vision rehabilitation therapists to work with transition-age students and young adults with vision loss so that they can obtain competitive employment and become taxpayers, rather than relying on public assistance throughout their lifetimes.
L.D. 765 invests funds to hire professionals to provide cost-effective training for older adults dealing with vision loss so that they can continue living independently in their own homes at an average cost of $1,350 per person; thus, saving the State of Maine hundreds of thousands of dollars for each client for whom long-term nursing care is delayed or avoided.
In recognition of Maine’s budget challenges, L.D. 765 does not spend as much as either report recommends; rather, it provides funding for a Program Design and Evaluation Specialist who will work to insure that the investment in program resources achieves the independent living, employment and community integration goals of people with vision loss in communities throughout the State of Maine.
This investment is needed now in order to:
• Avoid costly special education litigation by investing those scarce resources in educational services for students who are blind or visually impaired;
• Provide vocational rehabilitation and job training for transition-age students and young adults who are blind or visually impaired so they can live independently, have employable skills, can obtain meaningful work and can contribute to the tax base; and
• Meet the rapidly expanding need for vision rehabilitation services for adults dealing with vision loss due to both the maturing of the baby boom generation, and the prevalence of age-related eye diseases that cause vision loss, in order to avoid unnecessary institutional care that Mainecannot afford.

 
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