May 2019 Newsletter

Advocacy Watch

Governor McMaster signed Senate Bill 281 on May 16, 2019. The bill makes several changes to South Carolina law surrounding assistance animals. S. 281 initially provided that an individual who “fakes” a service animal would be criminally liable for the deception. P&A was concerned that confusion over what constituted a service animal could lead an individual to inadvertently claim their animal qualifies. Thus, P&A initially testified against the bill. When it became clear that the bill has a great deal of support behind it – and that some people who use service animals support the bill – P&A requested an amendment that would change the crime to a civil fine. That way, if an owner of an emotional support animal inadvertently breaks the law, he or she will not have to “check the box” for a criminal conviction in employment or housing applications. That amendment was accepted and made its way into the final bill. Another proposed amendment would have provided that only service animals, and not emotional support animals, must be accommodated in rental housing. This amendment would have violated federal housing law. P&A successfully worked with stakeholders to change the amendment to reflect current guidance by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. For information about this bill please see P&A’s press release on our website.

P&A Staff Member Honored by Family Connection South Carolina

P&A attorney Amanda Hess was recently chosen by Family Connection South Carolina staff as the Pat Head Advocate of the Year. Due to her commitment to serving their families, teaching their staff, respecting individuals and her quiet strength as a staunch advocate for children with disabilities. Congrats Amanda!

Celebrating Abilities Gala 

Thank you for the privilege of your generosity and support of the P&A Annual Gala. We could not do it without all our wonderful donors. To see a list of the 2019 sponsors or to view more pictures go to our gala page.

multiple attendees eating and drinking

Success Story

Minnie Lambert is the 2019 recipient of the P&A Ravenel Award as her actions in protecting the rights of her son, Andrew, certainly exemplify the qualities deserving of this award. Minnie’s son, Andrew, has CHARGE syndrome. This is a complex disability with symptoms unique to each individual and can require many medical needs. Despite her son having a complex disability, she has immersed herself in the CHARGE world to help her son and others. She is on the Board of Directors of the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation.

Minnie sought the assistance of P&A when she became concerned about her son’s education. It was though this assistance that we discovered what a strong advocate and example of self-advocacy Minnie is for Andrew. Beyond P&A, Minnie has always advocated for her son to ensure that he receives appropriate educational services, including filing successful complaints to the SC Department of Education. As a result of her efforts, Andrew is currently at the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts. He is making great progress. While we know Minnie misses Andrew dearly when he is away, her efforts have resulted in him receiving appropriate educational services.

Staff Spotlight

Pete Cantrell is an attorney in our Greenville office and leader of the Employment Team. Pete has been with P&A since 1994 and has served in a variety of roles. One of Pete’s favorite memories at P&A involves working with a special group of clients on class action litigation to improve the Dial a Ride (DART) paratransit system in Columbia. Currently Pete enjoys working with representatives of other nonprofit advocates and state agencies on the S.C. Disability Employment Coalition to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities. When he is not at work Pete loves travel, hiking and backpacking with his wife, Donna. Yoga is another of Pete’s loves. He has been a student for over 10 years and now teaches yoga classes as well.

Pete and his wife backpacking

Mark Your Calendar

Disability Benefits and Employment: Make it Work for You!, June 25, Greenville, Click here for more information.