History in the Making: The ABLE Act is Taking Our States by Storm

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After the Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act was signed by the President in December 2014, making it the law of the land, it gave states the authority to take action to establish state-based ABLE programs. What our advocates have done to harness the momentum from the ABLE Act last year to now having 34 states take action on their state ABLE bills, is nothing short of incredible! To date, nine states have passed ABLE bills, including:

  • Massachusetts
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • North Dakota
  • Utah
  • Kansas
  • Arkansas

Florida on the Verge of Becoming the 10th ABLE Act State

Florida Senate ABLE Vote

Jennifer Debes, Legislative Director for Congressman Crenshaw; Sara Hart Weir, President of NDSS; Congressman Ander Crenshaw; and Debbie Revels, Executive Director of DSAJ

Yesterday, I had the privilege of being in Florida’s state capital to join ABLE Act Congressional Champion Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) and Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville (DSAJ) Executive Director Debbie Revels for an emotional day as the Florida State Senate unanimously passed its ABLE Act, along with a series of exciting disability related legislation.

Speaker of the Florida State Senate, Andy Gardiner, presided over the vote and the gavel that was used to call the US House of Representatives vote last December, gifted by Speaker John Boehner to Congressman Crenshaw, was present in the Florida Senate Chamber. It was a special day, especially to have our tireless ABLE Act Champion, Ander Crenshaw, there to witness history in his home state.

Meanwhile, Back in Kansas….

jawanda erin after able vote

NDSS DS-Ambassador Jawanda Mast & Representative Erin Davis of Olathe, Kansas Celebrate the Kansas Passage of the ABLE Act

While I was in the Senate Gallery in Florida, lots of ABLE action was taking place in my home state – Kansas. We learned that the Kansas House voted 116-4 on its passage of ABLE – sending the Kansas ABLE Act to Governor Sam Brownback for his signature, which he’s expected to sign into law. A special thanks to Rep. Erin Davis of Olathe, Kansas, and one of our most dedicated NDSS DS-Ambassadors Jawanda Mast for their tireless advocacy in making this legislation a reality for all people with disabilities in Kansas. One of my favorite ABLE articles of the week features my friend Rachel Mast in our high school’s online paper – check it out!

With the U.S. Department of Treasury giving states the green light to move forward on state ABLE bills – nine states have passed ABLE bills and 25 other states have active bills before their state legislatures.

If you’re looking for an update on what’s happening in your state on the ABLE Act, please visit our NDSS website to find out more: http://www.ndss.org/Advocacy/Legislative-Agenda/Creating-an-Economic-Future-for-Individuals-with-Down-Syndrome/ABLE-State-Bills/.

Need More Information: 

Last week, I had participated in a webinar hosted by the National Disability Institute (NDI) with representatives from Autism Speaks and The Arc, which had over 700 people participate. I would encourage you to check out the webinar, which seeks to answer a lot of your ABLE Act questions!

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