Recent State Actions
Since the release of Work Matters in December 2016, at least 25 states have enacted legislation related to the policy options listed under the Laying the Groundwork section of the Work Matters Policy Framework. Below are some of the legislative highlights:
State as a Model Employer
Illinois SB 726 establishes a trainee program for persons with a disability, authorizes state agencies to offer at least one position per year to be filled by a person with a disability through an established trainee program, sets forth program requirements.
Kentucky HB 338 creates an interview preference for service members and their families, including spouses, when applying for a certified position with a state agency.
Texas SB 753 requires that all contractors participating in the state-funded Purchasing from People with Disabilities program increase their wages for workers with disabilities to the minimum wage.
Capacity of Private and Nonprofit Sector
Connecticut HB 7093 establishes a taskforce to study expanding existing employment assistance programs for people with disabilities and establishing financial incentives for businesses to employ more people with disabilities.
Kansas HB 2044 creates an income tax credit for taxpayers who purchase from Kansas businesses where at least 30% of the employees have a disability and where those employers are paid a wage no less than the minimum wage. Qualifying businesses must be certified by the state that they meet the requirements of the tax credit program.
Tennessee HB 759 requires state agencies that administer examinations for a license to engage in an occupation, trade, or profession in the state to provide appropriate accommodations for test-takers with disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
External and Internal Focus on Disability Awareness
Illinois SB 1136 requires each state agency to send at least one hiring manager each year to a training program about hiring people with disabilities.
Rhode Island HB 5289 seeks to update state job descriptions and state statutes with appropriate disability language.
Interagency Coordination and Collaboration
Illinois SB 2087 requires the Department of Human Services' Division of Rehabilitation Services to establish a 5-year Customized Employment Pilot Program. The program seeks to assist individuals with disabilities seeking employment but who may require more individualized assistance to achieve and maintain integrated employment at competitive wages through a process of customized planning and negotiation.
Pennsylvania HB 1641 provides for competitive integrated employment in state and county agencies, and any entity providing publicly funded education, training, employment and related services, and long term services and supports for working age residents with a disability. The bill establishes an Employment First policy, the Governor's Cabinet for People with Disabilities, and the Employment First Oversight Commission.
Texas SB 2038 directs the Texas Workforce Commission to prepare a report identifying potential funding sources for occupational skills training programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The report will also identify specific occupations in high-demand industries in the state that may be appropriate for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The report will be published by November 2020.
What the Research Shows
The federal Office of Disability Employment Policy commissioned a national survey in 2008 to gauge employer attitudes and practices around hiring and employing workers with disabilities. The survey included response across 12 different industries in the both the public and private sector. ODEP is currently conducting an updated survey.