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Candidates 2018 Answers

Barbara Evans Fleischauer

(D) Monongalia District/Circuit 51

Disability Rights        
1.  What initiatives would you undertake to ensure the protection of the Civil Rights of West Virginians with disabilities?
I have a long record of working on disability issues in the WV Legislature. Ken Ervin taught me that if I ever want to do anything on these issues, I should consult with those affected by disability. “Nothing about me without me,” is what he used to say. That is what I promise to do, check with local and state members of the disability community.
2.  How will you ensure West Virginia state entities and businesses are in compliance with the American with Disabilities Act to prevent discrimination against West Virginians with disabilities?
Resources for enforcement of this federal act are the province of our federal officials. I am more than glad to be an advocate for increased enforcement funding at the federal level. At the state level, the human rights commission handles much of our enforcement. I understand there are some problems with the commission and I am committed to finding out more about those problems and working to solve them. I was an employment lawyer, and litigated cases before the WV HR Commission for years and worked as an investigator with the Pa Human Relations Commission before law school. This is an area I am very familiar with and could be a resource.
3.  Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act covers all activities of State and Local Governments. The Act states that:
No qualified individual with a disability shall, on the basis of disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any public entity.

A public entity shall administer services, programs, and activities in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities. (a provision upheld by the Olmstead Decision of the US Supreme Court)
A public entity that employs 50 or more persons shall designate at least one employee to coordinate its efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under this part, including any investigation of any complaint communicated to it alleging its noncompliance with this part or alleging any actions that would be prohibited by this part.
How can West Virginia best uphold the Olmstead US Supreme Court decision and comply with the most integrated setting provision in Title II of the Act?
Last year, we made some progress when the wait list for the ADD waiver was temporarily eliminated. We must put the same emphasis on the IDD waiver. We need to refocus/rebalance our emphasis to make in-home services as readily available as nursing home care.
This is an issue I have worked on a great deal over the years, most recently with allowing AMAPs to be permitted to work with individuals in their homes with ventilators - both by sponsoring legislation and by working with stakeholders to adopt the rules required by the law.
One of the things that we need to be watchful for is compliance with housing laws & regulations. We have requirements at the federal level (section 8 housing, and design and construction rules) as well as the state level. We need to be sure that our private sector understands the importance of complying and that complaints are filed to force them into compliance if they are bad actors.

4. Do you support Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act in West Virginia? Why?

5.  Do you support funding the Medicaid Waivers sufficiently to eliminate the waiting lists and make them accessible to those who need them? Why?
Yes, very, very strongly. I am on the Board of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care and have fought for adoption of the ACA and against its abolition. It appears it will be a life-time struggle! I sure hope Kavanaugh does not win confirmation, since he has been opposed to the ACA in his decisions.
I have introduced legislation to eliminate the waiver and to make DHHR more accountable to the Legislature for many years.   I have been trying to limit the number of people on both the IDD and the ADD waivers for years. This year we had some success on the ADD. I am the lead sponsor of HB 2847, which is one approach to gain more control by the legislative branch over IDD waivers.
We should not be using our federal funding to warehouse people with disabilities. During this past session, I was part of a group of legislators who pushed DHHR to do better when it came to allowing a waiver for new types of housing, which would have gone to private entities to put disabled people on group homes at the expense of those who wanted to have more independent living arrangements. I think my involvement, by listening to the disability community, helped in reaching a compromise that would institutionalize fewer people.
Community Services
6.  What strategies will you use to ensure every West Virginian with a disability has access to a Center for Independent Living?
We need to restore the funding that was taken away from the line item for independing living. That would not be a huge increase, $70,000 but every time funding is chipped away, it means more people lose services or must wait longer to receive services. In this area, it would take an additional $1,123,000 to eliminate the current wait list for Northern WV CIL. That is unacceptable.
7.  How will you maximize West Virginia’s access to federal funding to improve and sustain services and supports for people with disabilities?
I will work with the disability community to ensure that our federal representatives are aware of the needs and prioritize this funding. I am happy to add my voice to the disability community, especially now that my grand-daughter’s needs have demonstrated in such a personal way how important these services are ( see below).
8.  How will you ensure FEMA funding received by West Virginia is used to meet the specific needs of survivors with disabilities following a disaster?
The recent scandals after hurricanes (Katrina, Rita, Puerto Rico & Florence) have highlighted the need for a clearer disaster plan following a disaster. What I could do at the state level is be sure that our Guard includes the disabled in their planning and implementation, since they are the ones we typically rely upon, and their funding is what we have some control over.
9.  Transportation in West Virginia, especially in rural areas is a problem for anyone who doesn’t own a vehicle. However, due to the lack of accessible transportation it is an even bigger issue for people with disabilities. Transportation is critical to the ability of an individual to work, live, and fully participate in his/her community. What will you do to improve access to transportation statewide for all West Virginians, including people with disabilities?
One of the problems with transportation in WV is that it is so fragmented, and this is in part because of the way federal funding is structured. And of course, our state has almost always focused on roads and driving, rather than public transportation, something that is a terrible problem for disabled people in rural areas, which sometimes public transportation is nonexistant.
Several years ago, I was part of a group that looked at trying to integrate our transportation funding, to expand services to a larger number of people. It is a very difficult, and tricky thing, because there are so many small pots of money. For example, in this area we have veteran transportation, we have transportation for seniors and our local “In Touch and Concerned” organization, which provided transportation to lots of vulnerable, low income people in the county, in addition to checking up on them, filed for bankruptcy. The group I was involved with kind of fell apart, I don’t know why - I think it was a worthy issue and we could learn from what other states do, especially those like WV which are primarily rural.
This is a very large issue which needs more attention and I would welcome more guidance on how we might move forward.

10. A.How will you make sure all schools are aware of and access all transition services available for youth with disabilities?
My grand-daughter is severely disabled and her mother is now an attorney with Mountain State Justice. I will refer anyone who has an issue to them – you cannot fight with the school district by yourself. It is always better to have legal assistance, and they are doing some great things. I am sure there are more things I could do to help constituents – I welcome advice on additional strategies.  
B. How will you enforce existing laws ensuring access to a Free and Appropriate Public Education for all youth with disabilities and ensure local school systems understand and comply with their responsibilities?
Same as above.
11. How will you ensure the existence of post-secondary education/training, services, and supports that facilitate all youth with disabilities becoming working, productive citizens?
I don’t know so much about this - I could use some education on this.        

12. Although the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has been federal law since 1975, many students with disabilities are still segregated, bused to a single school in the county, or otherwise excluded from the education in the “least restrictive environment” provision of IDEA. The integration of students with disabilities into general education classrooms and activities with typical students has been shown to increase acceptance, expectations, and inclusion and to reduce fear, misunderstanding, and bullying. What steps will you take to increase integration of all students with disabilities in schools throughout West Virginia?
I would check with my local CIL and refer people to Mountain State Justice, and intervene if need be, i.e. if I find out about situations where disabled children are being bullied, warehoused or not receiving the services they should within the schools. I just found out about a problem with a student with dyslexia – my first step is always to find out more about the situation, what is actually happening, and then think about solutions with the advice of the disability community.
13. 71.3% of working age West Virginians with disabilities are not in the workforce. What steps will you take to change that? How will you ensure all working West Virginians with disabilities are paid at least minimum wage and eliminate sub-minimum wage?
It is a travesty that so many West Virginians with disabilities are unemployed. Unemployment, for anyone, is dangerous - it leads to depression and worse health outcome.
I am a fan of the Job Squad, which used to be here in Morgantown and I hope is still doing very good things to help people explore customized work “fixes.”
Funding is critical for this. We need to ensure that Ron Yost funding is maintained, if not increased, since it helps disabled people stay in the work force, which is so important for mental as well as physical health. We also need to restore cuts to Family support services, which also helps people who rely on their loved ones to assist them with their employment.   Similarly, we need to maintain and improve funding for Supported Employment Services and Employment Attendant Care Program.

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