Our View of the Legislature – Ombudsman

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As we approach “crossover” next week, may bills that were offered have progressed in their original house or have been tabled, stricken or passed by. There were two bills in the Senate that proposed ombudsman services, one of which was on behalf of people with disabilities, and the other was not clear.

SB 43 (Favola) proposed a disability ombudsman to respond to questions concerning the disability service system, and locates the program in the disAbility Law Center of Virginia. The program would be open to all disabilities, but is limited to responding to inquiries. Because of the limited scope, the Senate revised this to a “helpline,” rather than an ombudsman. The bill was approved by Senate Rehabilitation, Senate Finance and the full Senate. It now goes to the House for consideration

SB 312 (Salim and Hashimi) would have created an independent living ombudsman to address complaints about independent living communities, and locates the program in the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services. This program is limited to those people with disabilities who are eligible for independent living communities only. Through the early weeks of the session, it was never clear exactly what community this ombudsman would have responsibility for. This bill has been assigned directly to Senate Finance, and was continued until 2025.

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia is here to educate policy makers about the potential impact of legislative proposals. Our mission is to advance independence, choice and self-determination; protect legal, human and civil rights; and eliminate abuse, neglect and discrimination of people with disabilities through zealous and uncompromising legal advocacy and representation.

Please let us know of any legislative proposals or budget issues that you think we should be following. Contact us at info@dlcv.org or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 804-225-2042.