“Lighthouse Attends NIB Public Policy Forum” by Vice President of Government Relations Paula Hoffman
The Government Relations team recently returned from an exciting business trip to Washington D.C. The purpose of the visit was to attend the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) Public Policy Forum, and to meet with our congressional delegation and other partners about key issues and Lighthouse initiatives. Our team this year included Mark Landreneau, Government Relations Specialist, Melanie Wimmenauer, Senior Director of Communications, Tami Berk, Director of the Deaf-Blind Program, and myself. We covered 20 meetings and events in Washington D.C. during the few days we were there. In addition to meetings with members of Congress from Washington and California, we met with other disability agency and organizational representatives, including representatives from the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), American Council of the Blind (ACB), the Federal Communications Commission, and Gallaudet University.
Key NIB Public Policy issues were: 1) suggested changes to the Workforce Investment Act, specifically language changes in the Rehabilitation Act that describe “employment outcomes” as including the employee’s choice of employer, and 2) support for the BOND pilot program, being tested by the Social Security Administration, as a possible means to mitigate the complete loss of social security benefits once a person has exceeded a specified income level. The BOND pilot program is being launched in ten areas in the country and will introduce a plan where for each $2 earned above the earnings limit, $1 in benefits would be lost. We are hopeful that demonstration projects such as BOND can lead toward legislation that can incentivize people to want to be not just employed, but upwardly mobile and making good wages without fear of total and sudden loss of benefits.
If you are interested in learning more about the Lighthouse’s Government Relations work, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.