Advocacy archive


This advocacy archive is where PSDP stores its older or inactive advocacy actions.

 

WIOA Comment

March 9th, 2016–March 28th, 2016: The Department of Labor (DOL) worked to update regulations for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which includes service dog provisions. The deadline for public comments was March 28th, 2016.

Update, December 2nd, 2016: As reported in John Ensminger’s Dog Law Reporter blog, DOL finalized its rule.

 

Illinois HB5807 Service Dog License Comment

June 12th, 2016–2017: Sadly, Illinois has leaned on intolerant ADI standards to put forward a law that would benefit ADI’s business, but harm those with disabilities. What’s more, the bill (HB5807) is clearly contrary to federal law.

How to help…

We’ve contacted the bill’s sponsor, the members of the Rules Committee, and the members of the Business & Occupational Licenses Committee—who, jarringly, unanimously passed the bill out of their committee on April 5th, 2016. We are determined to make it clear to these folks that HB5807 and any future similar bill should never be passed!

If you agree with our comment, add your politely passionate voice so they know how important this is. Click on the heading for more information.

 

Service Dog Memes

August 27, 2015–2016: Who said advocacy couldn’t be fun? If you want to change the world, leverage social media…

 

“There Are No Fake Vests”

October 6, 2014–2017: In 2013, Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) began a petition to stop the online sale of so-called “fake” service dog equipment. News outlets picked up this theme and began to run a marathon with it that continues to this day.

Unfortunately, while CCI is right to question any “certification” sold without a genuine evaluation, CCI inadvertently campaigned to make things harder for people with disabilities when they claimed that “fake” service dog vests are being sold online. Tired of this ongoing knock against the disability community, PSDP’s board of directors finally had to speak up in a clear statement that implores CCI to reconsider their approach.

How to help…

You can help! Not only can you *not* sign CCI’s petition or pledge, but you can take an active lead by linking or referring to our “There Are No Fake Vests” statement in a personal comment whenever you see CCI’s petition or pledge mentioned in the media. If you’re feeling bolder, you can write directly to CCI to help them realize their actions are working against our community. Please only be polite and professional; write in a way that will not inflame, but persuade. You can contact CCI either via marketing@cci.org or their contact form.

 

Service Animal Relief Area Comment

May 26th–June 6th, 2016: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) solicited comments on a new draft of an advisory circular, which contains recommendations for airports’ service animal relief areas (SARAs).

How to help…

Feel free to read through the advisory circular draft (more info is on the page linked by the title above) and use the federal register site to send in any comments you have! Overall, we are very pleased with FAA’s diligence in information-gathering and incorporating users’ considerations.

 

Arizona SB 1166

February 7, 2016–March 17, 2016: State senators in Arizona are updating the language of their basic service animal laws through State Bill 1166. Most of the updates are to bring existing statutes in line with the DOJ’s ADA regulations, but we advise strongly against an addition that is conspicuously contrary to the letter and spirit of federal disability law.

How to help…

If you agree with our comment (linked in the heading above), feel free to express your support of our reasoning and position by contacting the senators responsible for the bill. You can contact them through the Arizona legislature website—their individual pages and contact forms are a couple of clicks away from the main page for SB 1166:

http://www.azleg.gov/DocumentsForBill.asp?Bill_Number=1166&Session_Id=115&image.x=0&image.y=0

Update, February 13, 2016: The senators seem to have gotten our message very clearly and have struck out the provisions that would have required a variety of documentation and gear markings. The amended bill is still working its way through the state senate, but we no longer have to worry about its (original) worst additions to the statutes!

Update, March 17, 2016: In a close vote after heartfelt testimony on both sides, the bill didn’t make it out of the House Government and Higher Education committee.

 

Michigan Joint Committee Meeting Comment

June 10th–June 11th, 2015: Michigan is in the process of considering new laws concerning service animals. Some of the proposals are helpful, but we have strong critiques of portions of the bills in question.

Update, June 17th, 2015: In some very exciting news for those who feel powerless to effect positive political change, soon after we submitted our comment, the legislators introduced substitute bills with radical improvements. According to the records we accessed, no other testifier provided a critique of the bills, and the changes are specifically in line with our requests. We take these as signs that our actions have had a direct and resounding impact on the legislative process. Visit the link above for more details on the effects of our comment!

Update, October 22nd, 2015: The long process of these bills becoming laws is over! On October 21st, the Governor approved the four bills with the bulk of our recommendations in effect. PSDP community advocacy works! (Note that we are adamantly opposed to the “voluntary registry” Michigan created, and only celebrate the many positive changes we were able to make.)

 

Veterans Affairs 38 CFR 1.218(a)(11) Comment

November 21, 2014–January 20, 2015: The language of past VA regulations made it seem like local VA facilities could make up whatever service dog policies they wanted—and so they did. These new proposed regulations aim to fix that by bringing all VA facilities in line with existing general federal regulations that apply to VA property. Even though the DOJ’s regulations on the ADA don’t apply to federal property, the existing regulations (general to federal property) and proposed regulations (specific to VA property) roughly follow the reasoning of the DOJ/ADA.

We appreciate the spirit of the proposed regulations, but the VA proposal needed some help to be sure it safeguards disability rights, honors the weight of scientific evidence, and incorporates the expertise of our experienced community members. We worked hard to give sound reasoning and specific advice in our VA comment. What affects some of our service dog community members affects all of us together, so we appreciate the help of those who joined us in submitting comments!

Update, August 15th, 2015: Wow—we did it again! Policymakers really listened to our community’s comments. Visit our Veterans Affairs 38 CFR 1.218(a)(11) Comment page to see all the wonderful ways the proposed regulations were modified in response to our recommendations! These changes will positively serve VA patients, visitors, and staff for years to come.

 

Wisconsin Medicaid Benefit Comment

September 2, 2014: In Wisconsin, U.S., the Department of Health Services (Division of Long Term Care, Office of Family Care Expansion) solicited comments [page now removed] on their “Draft Family Care 1915(c) HCBS Renewal Application” [page also removed]. This draft included language to expand Medicaid benefits in Wisconsin to include the purchase of and routine veterinary care for service dogs. Unfortunately, and to the detriment of our community, the draft language did not allow for owner-trainers to take full advantage of the benefit. We explain this, why the problem should be rectified, and how to fix it in our comment (linked to in the title just above this paragraph).

Update, October 15, 2014: It appears that the new version of the draft contains changes to the language pertaining to service dog benefits. These changes (on pages 50 and 51) seem to include benefits for “upkeep and veterinarian services” of “trained service animals”, but there doesn’t seem to be anything restricting the application of these benefits to only program-trained dogs (which is good). On the other hand, it appears the drafters failed to take our central advice to allow the purchasing benefit to apply to a service dog prospect for an owner-trainer, since a service dog prospect would not already be a “trained service” animal at the point of purchase. However, if the waiver application is successful, how the program would actually work depends on the people and regulations implementing the benefits, so there is still room for our service dog advocacy efforts to have a positive influence for our community.

 

AODA Comment

June 30th, 2014: In Canada, a Legislative Review committee solicited comments on proposed revisions to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), including modifications pertaining to service animals. We credit the revisions where due, but warn the committee that their seemingly minor revisions have potential for a majorly negative impact in the lives of service animals users. We detail these aspects and provide specific suggestions to improve the revisions in our comment, linked to just in the title above this paragraph.

Update, February 13th, 2015: The Legislative Review report was released. The recommendations in the report are not specific to service animals.

Update, July 1st, 2016: The proposed revision on which we commented was revoked.

 

National Park Comment

June 17th, 2014: The United States National Park Service solicited comments on a proposed rule regarding service animals. While much of the proposed rule is good, we contend that some aspects need to be modified to intelligently balance the needs of the disabled with the need to protect wildlife. Our comment is on the page linked to in the title just above this paragraph.

 

Veterans Affairs P.L. 112-154 Statement

November 9th, 2012: House Resolution 1627 was passed into law an August 6th, 2012 as Public Law 112-154 by the United States Congress. When it became clear to PSDP that there were several misunderstandings about what this law does and does not say about service dog access on Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) property (in Section 109 of the law), PSDP decided to release a statement to clarify what the law means in isolation. Note that in 2012, public access for those using service dogs on VA property seemed to be a legal minefield, since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not apply to federal property, yet a host of other relevant laws do, and these laws had been subjected to conflicting interpretations in recent years.

Update, August 15, 2015: See the entry and page regarding our Veterans Affairs 38 CFR 1.218(a)(11) Comment, which overshadows any hypothetical discussion about the meaning of P.L. 112-154. In that entry (above), we link to a proposed rule, in which VA clearly shares our view of P.L. 112-154, but goes even further in a direction favorable to owner-trainers of service dogs. Our comment itself contains a discussion of P.L. 112-154 and references an associated document that justifies our interpretation. The final rule and VA’s discussion of it couldn’t be clearer as to whether anything like ADI certification is required for VA access (it’s not!).