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2006 January - February

Day Labor Legislative Victories

By Rebecca Smith

Day laborers are protected by the law much less than other workers and often are subjected to severe exploitation. Some states recently passed legislation to address some of the worst abuses against these workers. In New Mexico and Illinois coalitions of advocates undertook broad-based campaigns to convince their state legislatures to strengthen civil and criminal penalties for underpayment of wages to day laborers and improper charges for services such as check cashing and transportation.

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Applying the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in Preschools

As preschool becomes available to more children, the needs of children with disabilities must be considered during planning. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act protects the rights of preschool children, as well as children in kindergarten through high school, to a free, appropriate public education. The Act also guarantees early intervention services for infants and toddlers up to age 3.

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The 2004-2005 Amendments to the Community Reinvestment Act Regulations

For Communities, One Step Forward and Three Steps Back

By Richard D. Marsico

The Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, and the Office of Thrift Supervision have issued their 2004-2005 amendments to the Community Reinvestment Act. Although low-income communities lost ground on data disclosure policy, assessment areas, and community investments, gains were made in predatory lending regulation. To determine the net effect of the recent amendments on low-income communities, advocates should continue to monitor, record, and disclose lending patterns.

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Combating Independent Contractor Misclassification in the States

Models for Legislative Reform

By The National Employment Law Project

Workers whom employers misclassify as independent contractors may be deprived of benefits and protection under minimum-wage, workers' compensation, and other labor laws. Abuses are particularly rampant in the construction and day labor sectors. In recent years states adopted a range of approaches, including writing into law a presumption of employee status, to address independent contractor misclassification. Similar bills are pending in other states.

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A Brave New World

Getting Medically Necessary Prescriptions Under Medicare Part D

By Vicki Gottlich

Medicare is now providing prescription drug coverage to everyone enrolling in a drug plan under Part D of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 and to those eligible for Medicare and Medicaid ("dual eligibles") and automatically enrolled in a plan by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Advocates are concerned that the flexibility accorded to the private insurance companies providing the benefit will limit the new benefit's scope and access to prescribed medicines. Enrollees may have to use the Act's processes to help them get such prescriptions.

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Twenty Common Nursing Home Problems and the Laws to Resolve Them

By Eric Carlson

The federal Nursing Home Reform Law offers a broad array of rights and protection provisions for residents of nursing homes that are certified to receive payment from Medicare or Medicaid. The law protects residents against discrimination, requires that residents or their representatives be involved in decision making and their preferences honored, and generally requires treating residents' interests as more important than institutional interests. Nursing home residents and their representatives should become familiar with and assert these rights.

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Examining the 2004 Amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

What Advocates for Students and Parents Need to Know

By Kathleen B. Boundy

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 was intended to align the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act with the No Child Left Behind Act to improve accountability of schools and school districts and promote educational achievement for students with disabilities. Instead amendments to statutory provisions regarding the IEP (individualized education program), highly qualified teachers, the right to "stay-put," and manifestation determinations compromise the rights of students to receive a full, free appropriate public education and create special challenges for parents and advocates.

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