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Month: October 2018

Political Candidates Highlight Disability Issues

Washington, D.C., Oct. 27 – As voters head to the polls, candidates for U.S. Senate and governor, as well as local candidates in New York City and Los Angeles, have outlined their views on ensuring equal employment opportunities for the one-in-five Americans with a disability by responding to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility.

Candidates from all sides of the aisle completed the questionnaire, showing that disability rights is a nonpartisan issue. The responses also are geographically-diverse, coming from states around the country, as politicians are paying more attention to the disability community.

“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”

According to a recent survey, 74 percent of likely voters have a disability themselves or have a family member or a close friend with disabilities. The upcoming elections and their results will have an impact on people with disabilities, so it is important to become familiar with the candidates’ thoughts on certain issues.

“Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril,” said former U.S. Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett. Bartlett, who was a primary author of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, is the chairman of RespectAbility.

Andrew Gounardes Completes NYC Disabilities Questionnaire

New York City, Oct. 26 – Responding today to a questionnaire by the disability advocacy group RespectAbility, Andrew Gounardes, who is running for New York State Senate District 22 in Brooklyn, outlined his views on education, employment and stigma for the 948,000 people with disabilities living in New York City. That includes people who are blind or deaf or have other visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, as well as people with invisible disabilities including learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.

According to a recent survey, 74 percent of likely voters have a disability themselves or have a family member or a close friend with disabilities. The upcoming elections and their results will have an impact on people with disabilities, so it is important to become familiar with the candidates’ thoughts on certain issues.

“Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril,” said former U.S. Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett. Bartlett, who was a primary author of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, is the chairman of RespectAbility.

RespectAbility reached out to Gounardes’ opponent, incumbent State Sen. Marty Golden, as well, but received no response, according to the organization’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi.

RespectAbility is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.

The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Gounardes’ replies follows:

Los Angeles Area Candidates Highlight Disability Issues

Los Angeles, California, Oct. 26 – As voters head to the polls, candidates for California State Assembly and Senate in the Los Angeles area have outlined their views on ensuring equal educational and employment opportunities for the 987,522 people with disabilities in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area by responding…

New York City Candidates Highlight Disability Issues

New York City, Oct. 26 – As voters head to the polls, candidates for New York State Senate and Assembly have outlined their views on ensuring equal educational and employment opportunities for the 948,000 people with disabilities living in New York City by responding to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy…

Harvey Epstein Completes NYC Disabilities Questionnaire

New York City, Oct. 26 – Responding today to a questionnaire by the disability advocacy group RespectAbility, Harvey Epstein, who recently won the election for New York State Assembly District 74, outlined his views on education, employment and stigma for the 948,000 people with disabilities living in New York City. That includes people who are blind or deaf or have other visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, as well as people with invisible disabilities including learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.

According to a recent survey, 74 percent of likely voters have a disability themselves or have a family member or a close friend with disabilities. The upcoming elections and their results will have an impact on people with disabilities, so it is important to become familiar with the candidates’ thoughts on certain issues.

“Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril,” said former U.S. Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett. Bartlett, who was a primary author of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, is the chairman of RespectAbility.

A special election for the position of New York State Assembly District 74, which Epstein won, was held on April 24, 2018.

RespectAbility is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.

The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Epstein’s replies follows:

Robert Jackson Completes NYC Disabilities Questionnaire

New York City, Oct. 26 – Responding today to a questionnaire by the disability advocacy group RespectAbility, Robert Jackson, longtime former City Council Member who is running for New York State Senate District 31, outlined his views on education, employment and stigma for the 948,000 people with disabilities living in New York City. That includes people who are blind or deaf or have other visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, as well as people with invisible disabilities including learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.

According to a recent survey, 74 percent of likely voters have a disability themselves or have a family member or a close friend with disabilities. The upcoming elections and their results will have an impact on people with disabilities, so it is important to become familiar with the candidates’ thoughts on certain issues.

“Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril,” said former U.S. Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett. Bartlett, who was a primary author of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, is the chairman of RespectAbility.

RespectAbility reached out to Jackson’s opponent, first-term incumbent Marisol Alcantara, as well, but received no response, according to the organization’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi.

RespectAbility is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.

The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Jackson’s replies follows:

With 60.1% of Hawaiians with Disabilities Out of Work, Ige, Curtis and Tupola Discuss Job Prospects

Honolulu, Hawaii, Oct. 25 – With 60.1 percent of Hawaii’s 66,031 working-age people with disabilities out of work, incumbent Democratic Gov. David Ige, his Republican opponent, State Sen. Andria Tupola and Republican Senate challenger Ron Curtis each responded to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility, outlining their views…

With 58% of Nevadans with Disabilities Out of Work, Heller, Rosen and Sisolak Discuss Job Prospects

Carson City, Nevada, Oct. 25 – With 58 percent of Nevada’s 198,826 working-age people with disabilities out of work, incumbent U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and Democratic U.S. Sen. nominee Jacky Rosen, as well as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak, all have responded to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility,…

With 57.3% of Coloradoans with Disabilities Out of Work, Polis Discusses Job Prospects

Denver, Colorado, Oct. 25 – With 57.3 percent of Colorado’s 308,342 working-age people with disabilities out of work, Democratic gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-2nd District) has responded to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility, outlining his views on training and hiring people with disabilities.

In his responses to 10 questions submitted by the organization, Rep. Polis repeatedly cited his work in starting two nonprofits, TechStars and Operation Bootcamp, that helped those in underrepresented communities and returning veterans start their own businesses.  Project Bootcamp, he noted, “specifically works with veterans and their families, many of whom live with a disability.”

In Congress, he said, he cosponsored legislation that, in his words “would help to bust stigma surrounding disabilities, while also working to expand access to career and life opportunities for people with disabilities.”

“I believe,” Polis said, “that if we work together to eliminate barriers to employment, independence and equality for people with disabilities, we will also be working to eliminate the destructive stigmas against peoples (sic) with disabilities, all while ensuring that every Coloradan, no matter who they are, can reach their full potential at work and at life.”

Referring to his experience as a member of the State Board of Education and in launching two public schools for students who need unique support to succeed, Polis said, “what I learned from all of this is that many students have limitations placed on them that they cannot control. I also learned that if our educational system can meet these students where they are, we can help them discover futures and careers of success.”

“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”

RespectAbility also reached out repeatedly to Polis’ opponent, Republican State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, but received no response to the questionnaire from him, according to Mizrahi.

The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Polis’ responses follows:

With 46% of North Dakotans with Disabilities Out of Work, Heitkamp Discusses Job Prospects

Bismarck, North Dakota, Oct. 25 – With 46 percent of North Dakota’s 43,089 working-age people with disabilities out of work, incumbent Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp has issued an official response to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility, outlining her views on training and hiring people with disabilities.

In responses to 10 questions submitted by the organization, Heitkamp said that “one of the best ways to reduce the stigmas surrounding people with disabilities in employment is to get people with disabilities working jobs and let them show people firsthand everything that people with disabilities have to offer a workplace.”

“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said RespectAbility’s president, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”

RespectAbility also reached out repeatedly to Heitkamp’s opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, but received no response to the questionnaire from him, according to Mizrahi.

The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Sen. Heitkamp’s responses follows:

With 55.3% of Kansans with Disabilities Out of Work, Kelly Discusses Job Prospects

Topeka, Kansas, Oct. 25 – With 55.3 percent of Kansas’ 188,671 working-age people with disabilities out of work, Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Senate Minority Whip Laura Kelly has responded to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility, outlining her views on training and hiring people with disabilities.

In her responses to 10 questions submitted by the organization, Kelly recalled that “one of my proudest accomplishments in the legislature was securing critical support for early childhood education programs” that said “help kids develop at an early age, identify any challenges they may face, and impact their families for the better.”

Responding to a question about what steps she would take to enable students with disabilities to succeed in school and be prepared for competitive employment, Kelly responded, “we know the significant impact early investment can have on kids going into kindergarten and the difference it can make in the years to come.”

“When I am governor,” Kelly continued, “Kansas will invest more in programs like this that benefit our children and put them on the past to success so they can go on to high school, higher education and eventually the workforce.”

“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”

RespectAbility also reached out repeatedly to Kelly’s opponent, Republican Kris Kobach, but received no response to the questionnaire from him, according to Mizrahi.

The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Kelly’s responses follows:

With 54.1% of Iowans with Disabilities Out of Work, Hubbell Discusses Job Prospects

Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 25 – With 54.1 percent of Iowa’s 175,367 working-age people with disabilities out of work, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell issued a statement in response to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility, outlining his views on training and hiring people with disabilities.

While declining to respond to 10 questions submitted by the organization, Hubbell issued a statement that was critical of Iowa’s decision to privatize Medicaid, which he called “a disaster.”

“More than 40,000 individuals have been denied care or experienced a reduction of services,” Hubbell charged.  “It’s shamelessly clear that managed care is costing the state millions of dollars” and, he said, “forced more than a dozen businesses to close their doors.”

“On Day One of my administration,” Hubbell said, “I am committed to reversing the failed experiment. As governor, I will take steps to immediately prioritize the health care of Iowans and support the good work being done by providers across the state.”

“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”

RespectAbility also reached out repeatedly to Hubbell’s opponent, incumbent Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, but received no response to the questionnaire, according to Mizrahi.

The full text of Hubbell’s statement follows:

With 64.3% of Illinoisans with Disabilities Out of Work, Pritzker Discusses Job Prospects

Springfield, Illinois, Oct. 25 – With 64.3 percent of Illinois’ 679,862 working-age people with disabilities out of work, Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker has responded to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility with a statement outlining his views on training and hiring people with disabilities. Rather than responding specifically to…

With 72.5% of Alabamians with Disabilities Out of Work, Maddox Discusses Job Prospects

Montgomery, Alabama, Oct. 25 – With 72.5 percent of Alabama’s 421,135 working-age people with disabilities out of work, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Walter Maddox responded to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility, outlining his views on training and hiring people with disabilities.

In his responses to 10 questions submitted by the organization, Maddox repeatedly cited Alabama’s failure to expand Medicaid as a factor in disability unemployment.

Citing a recent University of Kansas study, Maddox asserted that “states that expand Medicaid are substantially more likely to see increases in employment by people with disabilities.”

“Without expansion, many people with disabilities will continue to be caught in the disturbing trap that keeps people from finding work because the income will disqualify them from Medicaid.”

“New data from the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire indicates that 343,488 more people with disabilities joined the workforce in 2016,” noted RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “However, in Alabama, there were 5,531 fewer persons with disabilities working than the year before.”

“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” Mizrahi asserted. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”

RespectAbility also reached out repeatedly to Maddox’ Republican opponent, incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey, but received no response to the questionnaire, according to the organization’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi.

The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Maddox’ responses follows:

With 64.5% of Pennsylvanians with Disabilities Out of Work, Casey Discusses Job Prospects

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Oct.25 – With 64.5 percent of Pennsylvania’s 909,897 working-age people with disabilities out of work, incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, Jr., has issued an official response to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility, outlining his views on training and hiring people with disabilities.

In responses to 10 questions submitted by the organization, Casey noted his efforts in blocking House-passed legislation, the Americans With Disabilities Education and Reform Act. “If passed,” Casey said, the legislation “would have gutted Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act and removed the incentives for those providing services to the general public to make those services accessible for people with disabilities.”

“While employment, education, health care, and other key policies are critical to reaching the goals” of the Americans with Disabilities Act, he added, “protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities is primary and the House bill took direct aim at the rights of people with disabilities.”

Casey noted that he was “the primary Senate author of the Stephen Beck A Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act in 2014, making it possible for people who acquire their disability before age 26 to open a savings account that allows them to save up to $15,000 a year up to a total of $100,000 and not lose their federal disability benefits.”

“Since its passage, 39 states have created ABLE account programs, making it possible for people with disabilities to save for education expenses, begin small businesses, put away money for a car, or purchase a home.”

“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”

RespectAbility also reached out repeatedly to Casey’s opponent, Republican challenger Lou Barletta, but received no response to the questionnaire from him, according to Mizrahi.

The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Sen. Casey’s responses follows:

With 64.2% of Ohioans with Disabilities Out of Work, Brown Discusses Job Prospects

Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 25 – With 64.2 percent of Ohio’s 851,743 working-age people with disabilities out of work, incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown has issued an official response to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility, outlining his views on training and hiring people with disabilities.

In responses to 10 questions submitted by the organization, Brown noted that he is the co-sponsor of two pieces of legislation that he said are “focused on improving career and job opportunities for individuals with disabilities,” The Disability Employment Incentive Act and the Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act.

“Both bills would enhance tax credits that help support employers who hire individuals with disabilities and make workplaces more accessible to employees with disabilities,” Brown said.

The legislation, he asserted, will “strengthen programs designed to support employers and employees in ways individuals with disabilities can learn about their rights and facilities can become ADA-compliant.”

“First and foremost,” he said, “I am dedicated to protecting programs like SSDI, Medicaid, Medicare, and other federal programs that help support individuals with disabilities. Many of these programs have come under attack in recent years and I am committed to protecting and improving these programs for individuals with disabilities.”

“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”

RespectAbility also reached out repeatedly to Brown’s opponent, Republican challenger Jim Renacci, but received no response to the questionnaire from him, according to Mizrahi.

The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Sen. Brown’s responses follows:

With 66.7% of Michiganders with Disabilities Out of Work, Schuette Discusses Job Prospects

Lansing, Michigan, Oct. 25 – With 66.7 percent of Michigan’s 764,335 working-age people with disabilities out of work, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, the Republican nominee for governor, has issued an official response to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility, outlining his views on training and hiring people with disabilities.

In responses to 10 questions submitted by the organization, Schuette said that “Michigan must be a place where we grow our recovering economy and ensure there is no room for discrimination of any kind, because all people must be treated with dignity, grace and respect.”

“The disability community has so much to contribute, especially to our state’s economy, and businesses need to know there is a real return on investment in hiring persons with disabilities. As governor, I would make sure employers hear this important message.”

Scheutte noted that “Michigan is still 300,000 jobs short from where we were before the Great Recession.”

“Our incomes are still below pre-recession levels, and more than $5,000 below the national average. As governor, I’ll set policies that let our businesses expand and thrive and attract the people needed to fill all the jobs we are creating, while giving a pay raise to those who are already here.”

“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”

RespectAbility also reached out repeatedly to Schuette’s opponent, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, but received no response to the questionnaire from her, according to Mizrahi.

The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Attorney General Schuette’s responses follows:

With 61.4% of Massachusettsians with Disabilities Out of Work, Warren Discusses Job Prospects

Boston, Massachusetts, Oct. 25 – With 61.4 percent of Massachusetts’ 390,729 working-age people with disabilities out of work, incumbent U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, has issued an official response to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility, outlining her views on training and hiring people with disabilities.

In responses to 10 questions submitted by the organization, Warren said that “today, it is perfectly legal for an employer to hire workers with disabilities and pay them below what they pay workers without disabilities for doing the same work.”

She added that employers who hire employees with disabilities “can even apply for permission to pay workers with disabilities below the federal minimum wage. This is absolutely shameful, and I’ve called on the Department of Labor to crack down on employers that abuse that abuse this policy.”

Warren noted that “accessible public transportation also ensures that workers with disabilities can safely commute to work.”

“I helped to secure over $9 million in federal grants to make vital improvements to the dock at the Hingham Ferry Terminal in Massachusetts, bringing the dock into full ADA compliance and ensuring that it is accessible to all riders.”

“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”

RespectAbility also reached out repeatedly to Warren’s opponent, Republican Geoff Diehl, but received no response to the questionnaire from him, according to Mizrahi.

The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Sen. Warren’s responses follows:

With 58.9% of Marylanders with Disabilities Out of Work, Cardin Campaign Discusses Job Prospects

Rockville, Md., Oct. 25 – With 58.9 percent of Maryland’s 334,505 working-age people with disabilities out of work, the campaign of incumbent U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat, has issued an official response to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility, outlining his views on training and hiring people with disabilities.

In responses to 10 questions submitted by the organization, Cardin’s campaign said that “Senator Cardin has championed the cause of inclusion and full political and economic equality for individuals with disabilities in the United States and abroad.”

“Senator Cardin voted for the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 and advocated for ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” said the campaign. “He has stayed active in disability issues by leading and supporting legislation and letters that promote the rights of individuals with disabilities. He maintains multiple staff who advise him on this issue from the perspectives of civil rights, labor, and health.”

“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”

RespectAbility also reached out repeatedly to the campaign of Cardin’s opponent, Republican Tony Campbell, but received no response to the questionnaire from them, according to Mizrahi.

The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and the Cardin campaign’s responses follows:

With 67.8% of Floridians with Disabilities Out of Work, Gillum Discusses Job Prospects

Tallahassee, Florida, Oct. 25 – With 67.8 percent of Florida’s 1,255,268 working-age people with disabilities out of work, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor, has issued an official response to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility, outlining his views on training and hiring people with disabilities.

Although Gillum failed to answer the 10 questions submitted by the organization, he responded with a formal statement asserting that “Floridians with disabilities deserve the same rights afforded to all Floridians.”

“Most importantly, they must be given the ability to live independently within their chosen communities, and the opportunity to seek out and achieve their dreams and desires. Government plays an important role in supporting and ensuring this fundamental right. We must do a better job in this regard.”

He continued, “There are specific steps we can take to make our state a better place for people with disabilities. First, we must get a handle on the waiting list for services within the Home and Community Based Waiver. Too many Floridians have been denied critical services due to a lack of political will. This program is a lifeline for our most vulnerable citizens and their desire to live productive lives. The same can also be said for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). APD is filled with some of the most dedicated and hard-working public servants in the State of Florida and I look forward to giving them the necessary tools and funding to carry out their important mission.”

“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said RespectAbility’s president, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”

RespectAbility also reached out repeatedly to Gillum’s opponent, former Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis, but received no response to the questionnaire from him, according to Mizrahi.

The full text of Mayor Gillum’s statement follows: