The Arc Wisconsin is advocating for passage of LRB 0753, the Employment First bill, which makes competitive integrated employment a priority for state agencies that provide employment services to people with disabilities. The bill requires the Department of Workforce Development to collaborate with the department of Public Instruction and Health Services and other agencies to develop a plan to increase competitive integrated employment opportunities.
The California Legislative Assembly has wrapped up its regular 2017 session. The following are the final results for The Arc California’s priority bills:
- AB 1161, which requires local law enforcement agencies to develop hate crime policies passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee and had a hearing in the Appropriations Committee, but no further action was taken;
- AB 973, which requires counties to permit voters with disabilities to use a remote accessible vote by mail system was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown; and
- AB 1111, which creates a grant program for providing services to individuals with barriers to employment so that they can participate in training and education programs was signed by Governor Jerry Brown.
The Arc Indiana has successfully advocated for passage of SB 390, the Employment First bill, which makes competitive integrated employment the priority in Indiana’s disability service programs. Betty Williams, The Arc Indiana’s Consumer Education and Training Coordinator, spoke at the signing ceremony, noting: “I want you to think about how having a job makes you feel…Having a job means you have a reason to get up in the morning.”
The Arc Texas is advocating for passage of HB 2409, which phases out the use of sub-minimum wage in the Purchasing from People with Disabilities Program. Only 8 of the 116 organizations participating in the program currently pay sub-minimum wage. The bill would give them three years to phase it out with support from the Texas Workforce Commission.
As a result of The Arc Wisconsin’s advocacy efforts, The Madison Common Council approved an ordinance change ending the use of subminimum wage for city employees with disabilities. In a press release from The Arc Wisconsin, Wisconsin Board of People with Developmental Disabilities, and the Madison Mayor’s Office, Lisa Pugh, Executive Director of The Arc Wisconsin, stated “This step in recognizing the civil rights of people with disabilities to equal pay sends a strong message. The Arc Wisconsin thanks Madison for once again leading the way.”
The Arc Wisconsin has been working with the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities to develop initiatives that help youth in transition secure employment. As a result of the chapter’s advocacy, these efforts are now included in Governor Scott Walker’s budget, which proposes $5.1 million in awards to school districts that help students with disabilities obtain employment and $1.5 million to help school districts improve transition programming that connects students with disabilities to jobs.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Tennessee’s Employment First Task Force, of which The Arc of Tennessee is a part, is promoting a #HireMyStrengths campaign. The campaign, started by TennesseeWorks, places an emphasis on the individual strengths of people with and without disabilities. Participants are asked to write their strengths on a sign and share a picture holding the sign on social media.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and The Arc of New Jersey is hosting a “Watch Me Work” series to commemorate it. Each week, they will tell the story of an individual with I/DD who is succeeding in competitive employment. Additionally, they will host a webinar on pre-employment transition services.
The Arc of Tennessee is actively involved in Governor Bill Haslam’s Employment First Task Force and facilitates monthly family support meetings around the topic of employment in each grand region of the state. The chapter also conducts workshops for local chambers of commerce and the Society for Human Resource Management on the “Business Case for Employment” to educate businesses about the benefits of hiring people with I/DD.
The Arc of Colorado conceived of and found sponsors for SB 77, recently signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper. This law requires multiple state agencies to work through the State Rehabilitation Council to develop an Employment First policy that increases competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities. These agencies will develop a strategic plan to incentivize employers to hire individuals with I/DD and provide training and support for people with disabilities to identify, secure, and maintain community based jobs in integrated settings.