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Author: Lauren Appelbaum

Disability Supporter Wolf Wins Gubernatorial Re-Election in Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Nov. 7 – Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has won re-election, defeating Republican challenger Scott Wagner for Pennsylvania’s governorship. Recently Wolf affirmed his commitments on jobs for Pennsylvanians with disabilities in a proclamation sent to RespectAbility in October in honor of Disability Employment Awareness Month. RespectAbility is a nonpartisan,…

Disability Supporter Hogan Wins Maryland Gubernatorial Re-Election

Rockville, Maryland, Nov. 7 – Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has won re-election, defeating Democratic challenger Ben Jealous for Maryland’s governorship. In the weeks prior to the election, Hogan made new commitments on jobs for people with disabilities in a proclamation sent to RespectAbility in October in honor of Disability Employment…

Disability Advocate Bob Casey Keeps Pennsylvania Seat in U.S. Senate

My Portrait SessionsPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, Nov. 6 – Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, Jr., successfully defended his seat against Republican challenger Lou Barletta, who had hoped to unseat Casey in Pennsylvania.

Earlier this campaign season, Casey completed a disability issues questionnaire for Senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit national organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. The questionnaire included 10 questions on topics important to people with disabilities and those close to them. Despite repeated requests to his campaign, Barletta did not respond to the questionnaire.

More than 1.7 million Pennsylvanians live with a disability. That total 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.

In responding to the questionnaire, 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.”

With 64.5 percent of Pennsylvania’s 909,897 working-age people with disabilities out of work, employment is one area of high importance. There are reasons to optimistic. Last year, 6,993 Pennsylvanians with disabilities got new jobs and the year before that saw 13,763 people with disabilities getting new jobs. Pennsylvania currently ranks 31st in employing people with disabilities compared to the rest of the country. However, often there is an issue where if one makes too much money, they lose their ability to have any assistance – including a personal care assistant who may be necessary for an individual to live independently and then be able to be employed.

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.”

Pennsylvania is home to innovative programs for people with disabilities. Located in Bryn Mawr, JCHAI is a multi-faceted organization with cutting-edge inclusive, supportive vocational programs and living options for people with a range of disabilities. Across the state Project SEARCH offers school-to-work opportunities for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities to enter the competitive workforce. Project SEARCH is a unique, employer-driven transition program that prepares students with disabilities for employment success. From serving seniors to opening pathways into healthcare careers, these opportunities are having transformative impacts on the lives of young people with disabilities. In diverse places such as UPMC Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, Wellspan Hospital in Gettysburg, Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network in Allentown and at Drexel University, young Pennsylvanians with disabilities are receiving the training, experience and skills they need to succeed.

While Casey’s answers are extremely thorough in detailing policy toward full inclusion and equity for people with disabilities, Casey also works to ensure he practices what he preaches. His office has hired employees with disabilities and has worked with the Senate Democratic Diversity office “to create a database of people with disabilities interested in working in Senate offices both in Washington, D.C., and in the state offices.” By employing people with disabilities, Casey, and other Members of Congress, can become more informed about how different policies affect individuals with disabilities in a real way and ensure that people with disabilities are included throughout the entire process.

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

Disability Voter Resource Guide 2018

Washington, D.C., Nov. 4 – As voters head to the polls, many are concerned about various access issues from physical accessibility to voter ID laws. This is a federal election year; additionally, many state legislative seats, state executive offices, local offices and ballot amendments will be voted on. We’ve compiled…

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: