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Candidates 2018 Answers


Rodney A. Pyles
(D) , Monogalia District/Circuit 51


Disability Rights

1. What initiatives would you undertake to ensure the protection of the Civil Rights of West Virginians with disabilities?

As a member of the Government Organization Committee, the functions and activities of all government agencies, including the the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) and other agencies are part of my responsibility. I would support legislation to make sure that those agencies responsible for enforcing the civil rights act are fully funded. I would support legislation increasing the penalties for violations.


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?

Make sure that agencies responsible for enforcement have enough trained inspectors to make sure businesses are in compliance. I would support legislation to add additional inspectors and increase funding for enforcement if necessary.


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?

The priorities of the Olmsted Council as recommended earlier this year need to be enacted. I would be supportive of these recommendations if they were to come before the Government Organization Committee. I would be willing to sponsor or co-sponsor appropriate legislation to enact these priorities and any others to strengthen the application of the Olmstead decision in the state.


Medicaid

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

I fully support Medicaid expansion under the ACA. A significant number of West Virginians (including my daughter) are in the icome or special needs categories that rely on Medicaid for their healthcare needs.


5. Do you support funding the Medicaid Waivers sufficiently to eliminate the waiting lists and make them accessible to those who need them? Why?

I fully support full funding for the Medicaid Waivers.


 Community Services

6What strategies will you use to ensure every West Virginian with a disability has access to a Center for Independent Living?

I would support legislation to insure and fund a policy to guarantee access to a center for independent living for all citizens of the state who require it. The DHHR should be required to make periodic reports to the legislature regarding this situation. I would support or be willing to re-introduce legislation similar to S.B. 305 and H.B. 4366.


7. How will you maximize West Virginia’s access to federal funding to improve and sustain services and supports for people with disabilities?

The legislative finance committees, during their budget review, should question the DHHR and other appropriate agencies, regarding their federal funding. I am not a member of the finance committee, but would be willing to raise the issue whenever possible, in the Government Organization Committee.


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?

A special legislative committee on flooding was established last year. Members of this committee and the finance committee have the opportunity to question appropriate agencies regarding FEMA funding.

I am not a member of these committees but would be willing to raise questions in the Government Organization Committee whenever possible.


Transportation

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?

I would be willing to sponsor legislation to provide financial assistance to independent groups who operate special accessible buses for people with disabilities. I would be willing to sponsor legislation providing tax credits to private bus companies who modify their vehicles for the disabled or operate additional routes to accommodate as many disabled passengers as possible.


Education

10.  A. How will you make sure all schools are aware of and access all transition services available for youth with disabilities?

       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?

 As a member of the House Education Committee, I will work to make sure that all public school legislation passing through the committee contains provisions to protect youth with disabilities and make sure they have all the services to which they are entitled. I would be willing sponsor or cosponsor legislation to strengthen existing law.


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?

There is interest in the legislature in expanding vocational and technical education. If such legislation should come before the education committee, I will make sure that provisions for the disabled are included.


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 am opposed to segregation and support integration of the disabled into the regular school population. As a member of the education committee, I will work to insure that legislation coming through the committee protects the concept of integration. I would be willing to sponsor or cosponsor legislation to protect or strengthen this concept.


Employment

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?

Businesses need to be offered incentives to hire the disabled. I would support legislation to offer tax breaks to businesses that hire disabled persons. I would be willing to sponsor or cosponsor such legislation. I have cosponsored legislation to increase the minimum wage for all working people. I will make sure that there are no exceptions, and that the disabled are included.

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