Speaking out for People with
 Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Model State Choice Laws and Legislation

There have been many successful, efforts in the state legislatures to codify choice in residential settings. The following summarizes these examples. "Administration" in the following relates to the Governor, Commissioner, Secretary, or other like post in the Executive Branch of the state government.

The following states have introduced bills or passed laws relating to residential choice for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (ID/DD). For a "template bill" to share with your state legislators, contact Tamie Hopp at 877-399-4867 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Ohio:  The legislation establishes a six-member committee to which the Administration would be required to explain his plans for closing such facilities (passed).

South Carolina:  No state operated facility for persons with mental retardation or developmental disabilities may be closed except as authorized by the state legislature (passed).

Kentucky:  The Administration must provide 60 days notice to the Legislative Research Commission and to the immediate family and guardian of the resident with mental retardation or disabilit, of its intent to propose legislation to permit the immediate or gradual closure of any state-owned or operated facility for persons with MR/DD. Actual closure shall only occur through legislative action and only after there is a demonstrated health or safety emergency. Law also provides any resident, family member or guardian with standing to challenge the state's decision in a court of law (passed).

Oklahoma:  No state operated facility for persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities may be closed except as authorized by the state legislature (passed).

Washington:  Legislation to affirm the right of eligible persons with developmental disabilities and their families or legal guardians to choose where they live. Legislation affirming support for a complete spectrum of options, including community support services and residential habilitation centers (passed).

Arkansas:  Protective language in the budget assuring that the center budget cannot be cut during the two-year biennium (passed).

Pennsylvania:  The Administration may not close a facility except under legislation or court order. Failure to abide by these restrictions will provide a family member or guardian standing to pursue damages against the Administration in a court of law. If the Administration proposes to close a facility, at least 60 days notice is required and there shall be a public hearing to determine the types and array of available services for individuals with disabilities and their families, the process used to develop a community plan and the individual and community monitoring and safeguards to protect health and safety that will be in place (has not passed).

Pennsylvania: Bill of Rights for individuals with intellectual disabilities that includes the right to be provided with information about their options for services and choose from a complete spectrum of service options, including community and intermediate care facilities for people with mental retardation (ICFs/MR). This legislation specifically references the Olmstead decision and the DD Act primary decisionmaking language. Language throughout supports the involvement of individuals, families and guardians
(has not passed).

New Jersey: No state operated facility for persons with ID/DD may be closed except as authorized by the state legislature (has not passed).

Maryland:  Legislation that says it is the policy of the State to recognize the right of individuals with a developmental disability who need residential services to live in the setting of their choice, including a State residential center. Legislation also requires the Administration to approve the admission of an individual with developmental disability to a residential center if the individual chooses to receive services in a residential center (has not passed). 

Massachusetts:  Legislative proposal by family organization (not introduced) to require the Administration to provide information to eligible individuals and their families information about the full spectrum of services, and opportunity to choose from said full spectrum of services (not introduced).

Florida: A "choice" bill has been introduced the last 2 Florida legislative sessions (2007 and 2008).