Disability Employment: 2019 Legislative Enactments


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Lawmakers enacting legislation affecting employment opportunities for people with disabilities had a busy year in 2019. 

This was the third legislative session following the release of “Work Matters: A Framework for States on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities.” In partnership with the Council of State Governments (CSG), NCSL published Work Matters in December 2016 after a bipartisan national task force of state legislators, governors, state regulators, and private industry officials worked to determine legislative options to advance employment for people with disabilities.

Work Matters was part of the State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED), an ongoing initiative by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). SEED works to foster employment opportunities for people with disabilities by assisting states seeking to promote inclusive workforce development. The report details dozens of state policy options under the following frameworks:  

  • Laying the groundwork.
  • Preparing for work. 
  • Getting to and accessing work opportunities.
  • Staying at work. 
  • Supporting self-employment and entrepreneurship. 

As a partner organization in SEED, NCSL analyzed 144 enacted bills from the 2019 legislative sessions related to disability employment, seeking to identify those bills that align with the Work Matters policy framework. We identified 102 bills from 36 states that directly relate to policy options identified in the Work Matter framework. Those bills and the Work Matters policy areas are summarized below.

Laying the Groundwork

This policy area includes legislation that establishes a broad policy environment that embraces inclusiveness and supports disability employment: 

  • The state serving as a model employer.
  • State incentives for the business sector that promote the hiring of people with disabilities.
  • Training programs that raise awareness about disability etiquette and inclusiveness.
  • Optimizing resources through interagency collaboration.

During the 2019 legislative session, 28 states enacted 71 bills related to the Laying the Groundwork policy area. 

Connecticut HB 7093 establishes a 14-member taskforce to study strategies for increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities, including the expansion of existing employment assistant programs and financial incentives. 

Texas SB 753 requires all contractors participating in the state's Purchasing from People with Disabilities program to increase wages paid to workers with disabilities to minimum wage.

Preparing for Work

This policy area includes legislation that strengthens programs designed to prepare students and adults with disabilities with the necessary skills to successfully enter the workforce:

  • Education policies that prepare all youth—including those with disabilities—for college and a career.
  • Supporting work-based learning programs inclusive of people with disabilities.
  • Promoting meaningful family engagement throughout the education and career development process.

During the 2019 legislative session, 13 states enacted 15 bills related to the Preparing for Work policy area. 

California AB 1019 directs the Interagency Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship to create a subcommittee addressing greater apprenticeship and preapprenticeship opportunities for people with diabilities. This bill also adds the Director of Rehabilitation and executive director of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities to the existing interagency committee. 

Maine LD 740 specifies that all individualized education plans for high school students with disbilties must result in the reciept of a diploma.

Getting to and Accessing Work Opportunities

This policy area includes legislation that improves access to transportation services and promotes accessibility within the workplace:

  • Widely available and accessible transportation options for people with disabilities.
  • Accessible information and communication technologies in the workplace.

During the 2019 legislative session, 14 states enacted 18 bills related to the Getting to and Accessing Work Opportunities policy area. 

Arkansas HB 1561 establishes the Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Program, authorizing the operation of autonomous vehicles on streets and highways. 

California AB 1651 directs the state's Transportation Agency to conduct an assessment of existing dial-a-ride and paratransit services for people with disabilities. This bill requires the publication of the agency's assessment be made available online before July 1st, 2021. After the publication of this report, this bill directs the agency to adopt guidelines for the development of a statewide program expanding access to in-state public paratransit services for people with disabilities. 

Staying at Work/Returning to Work

This policy area includes legislation that supports workers experiencing a medical condition that challenges their ability to work. These policies are intended to help those workers stay on the job or re-enter the workforce following a leave of absence:

  • Supporting employee retention in the event of injury, illness or a change in status of an individual’s disability.
  • Tax deductions for contributions to Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts.

During the 2019 legislative session, 10 states enacted 11 bills related to the Staying at Work/Returning to Work policy area. 

New Jersey SB 844 permits workers on temporary disability insurance to recieve benefits while returning to work on a part-time basis.

Nevada AB 128 extends the length of time an employee who suffered a permanent disability can receive vocational rehabilitation job placement services.

Self-Employment and Entrepreneurship

This policy area includes legislation that increases access and opportunity for new and existing business owners with disabilities through entrepreneurship training and business incentives and supports:

  • State support for professional development opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • State procurement and contract preferences for disability-owned business. ​

During the 2019 legislative session, 3 states enacted 3 bills related to the Self-Employment and Entrepreneurship policy area. 

Maryland HB 680 establishes a responsible workforce development percentage price preference and requires a procurement officer to apply this preference if a bidder is a minority business enterprise.

The box allows you to search by the following Work Matters policy topics:

State as Model Employer, Career Readiness, Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work, Interagency Coordination, Accessible Transportation, Work-based Learning, ABLE Accounts, Private-sector Engagement, Raising Awareness, State Procurement


State Bill Number Bill Sponsor Bill Title Work Matters Policy   


SJR 71

J.T. Waggoner (R)


Establishing the Alabama Commission on Artificial Intelligence and Associated Technologies

State as Model Employer, Private-sector Engagement

Alabama SJR 45

J.T. Waggoner (R)

Recognizing Alabama’s Technology and Growing Artificial Intelligence Job Sectors’ Impact on the State’s Economy


State as Model Employer, Private-sector Engagement


HB 221

Stevens (R)

Duties of the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education

Career Readiness

Arizona SB 1079 Livingston (R) Long-term Disability Program Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work
Arkansas HB 1561 McCollum (R) Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Program Accessible Transportation
Arkansas HB 1651 Ladyman (R) An Act to Amend and Update the Laws Regarding Treatment for Individuals with Intellectual And Developmental Disabilities and to Ensure Respectful Language is Used within the Arkansas Code Interagency Coordination
California AB 1351 Lackey (R) Paratransit and Dial-a-Ride Services Accessible Transportation
California AB 1019

Frazier (D)

Apprenticeship: Developmentally Disabled Persons

Work-based Learning
California AB 5 Gonzalez (D) Worker Status: Employees and Independent Contractors Private-sector Engagement
California AR 21 Frazier (D) Relative to Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month Interagency Coordination
Colorado  SB 188 Winter (D) Family Medical Leave Insurance Program Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work
Colorado  SB 18-270 Jahn (I) Behavioral Health Crisis Transition Referral Program Interagency Coordination
Colorado  SB 18-231 Lambert (R) Transition to Community-based Services Task Force Interagency Coordination
Connecticut SB 164 Osten (D) Mental Health Workers' Compensation Benefits Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work


HB 7168

Bolinsky (R)

Transitional Services for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Career Readiness
Connecticut SB 1 Looney (D) An Act Concerning Paid Family and Medical Leave Private-sector Engagement
Connecticut HB 7424 Aresimowicz (D) An Act Concerning the State Budget Interagency Coordination


HB 7093

House Human Services Committee

An Act Establishing a Task Force to Increase Employment Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities State as Model Employer
Connecticut SB 140 Fasano (R) An Act Expanding Eligibility for Tax Relief for Certain Elderly Homeowners Private-sector Engagement
Delaware HB 241 Heffernan (D) An Act to Relating to Employment Practices Interagency Coordination


SB 110

Lockman (D)

An Act Relating to the Architectural Accessibility Board State as Model Employer
Florida HB 311 Fischer (R) Autonomous Vehicles  Accessible Transportation
Hawaii SCR 120 Cruz (D) Requesting the Hawaii Developmental Disabilities Council to Convene a Working Group Interagency Coordination
Illinois HB 2837 Burke (D) ABLE Account State Agreements ABLE Accounts


SB 177 Harris III (D) Business Enterprise Program State Procurement, Disability-owned Businesses


SB 534

Jones (D)

Bureau on Apprenticeship Programs Work-based Learning
Illinois SB 2087 Fine (D) Customized Employment for Individuals with Disabilities Act Interagency Coordination
Illinois HB 2557 Andrade (D) Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act Private-sector Engagement


SB 1136

Morrison (D)

An Act Concerning State Government State as Model Employer
Illinois SB 1449 Morrison (D) Disability Income Insurance Task Force Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work
Illinois SB 726

Morrison (D)

An Act Concerning State Government

State as Model Employer
Iowa SF 302 Transportation Cmt. Autonomous Vehicle Operation Accessible Transportation
Indiana HB 1488 Clere (R) An Act Concerning Family Law and Juvenile Law Interagency Coordination


SB 324 Crider (R) Disabled Veterans Parking Placards Accessible Transportation
Kansas HB 2044 Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Cmt. An Act Concerning Income Tax Credit for Taxpayer Purchases Private-sector Engagement
Kentucky HB 204 Sheldon (R) STABLE Account Promotion and Administration ABLE Accounts


HB 338

Koch (R)

An Act Relating to Employment Opportunities for Service Members and Their Families State as Model Employer
Louisiana HB 90 Moss (R) The Angela Downs Act Accessible Transportation
Louisiana HB 333 Connick (R) State Use Council for the Purchase of Goods and Services Provided by Individuals with Disabilities Interagency Coordination


SF 2415 Anderson (R) Higher Education Options for Students with Disabilities Career Readiness
Maine HB 740 Fecteau (R) Repealing Proficiency-based Diploma Standards Career Readiness
Maine HB 1270

Kornfield (D)

Resources for People with Disabilities 

Career Readiness
Maine  LD 1131 Morales (D) Act to Improve the Ability of Senior Citizens and Persons with Disabilities to Stay in Their Homes Accessible Housing
Maine  SP 110 Millett (D) An Act to Support Healthy Workplaces and Healthy Families by Providing Earned Paid Sick Leave to Certain Employees Private-sector Engagement
Maryland HB 680 Cullison (D) State Procurement, State Funded Construction Projects State Procurement


SB 1014

Patterson (D)

An Act Concerning Assembly Areas, State-Funded Construction or Renovation, Assisted Listening System Requirement State as Model Employer, Private-sector Engagement
Maryland HB 1192

Valderrama (D)

An Act Concerning Assembly Areas, State-Funded Construction or Renovation, Assisted Listening System Requirement

State as Model Employer
Massachusetts SB 2412

Cabral (D)

Twenty-First Century Education Trust Fund

Career Readiness


HF 6 Hornstein (D) Transit Data Collection for People with Disabilities Accessible Transportation
Minnesota HF 211 Schultz (D)

Parking for People with Disabilities

Accessible Transportation
Minnesota SB 2415 Anderson (R) Postsecondary Education Option Information Career Readiness
Montana HB 288 Caferro (D) ABLE Account Tax Deductions ABLE Accounts
Nebraska LB 570 Walz (NP) An Act Relating to Public Health and Welfare Interagency Coordination
Nebraska LB 294 Scheer (NP) An Act Relating to Appropriations Interagency Coordination


AB 68

Commerce and Labor Cmt.

State Apprenticeship Council Work-based Learning
Nevada SB 202 Spearman (D) An Act Relating to Persons with Disabilities Interagency Coordination


AB 68 Commerce and Labor Cmt. An Act Relating to Apprenticeships Private-sector Engagement
Nevada AB 456 Commerce and Labor Cmt. An Act Relating to Wages Private-sector Engagement
Nevada AB 128 Cohen (D) Vocational Rehabilitation Service Extention Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work


SB 50

Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee

An Act Relating to the State Personnel System State as Model Employer

New Jersey 

SB 844 Turner (D) Partial Return-to-Work Temporary Disability Insurance Program Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work
New York  AB 7473 Gunther (D) NY ABLE Account Balances ABLE Accounts

New York 

AB 7251 Cusick (D)

Accessible Postsecondary Educational Materials

Career Readiness
New York  SB 4276 Skoufis (D) An Act Updating Language Used in Reference to the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities Interagency Coordination
New York  AB 6344 Gunther (D) An Act Related to Disability Service Information Interagency Coordination
New York  SB 5248 Biaggi (D) An Act to Amend Labor Law Private-sector Engagement
North Carolina SB 556 Edwards (R) General Statutes Commission People First Language 2019 Interagency Coordination
North Dakota SB 2187 Lee (R) Excise Tax Exemption for Disability Transit  Accessible Transportation
North Dakota HB 1135 Boschee (D) Accessible Parking Spaces Accessible Transportation
North Dakota HB 1406 Nelson (R) An Income Tax Credit for the Employment of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities or Severe Mental Illness Private-sector Engagement


SB 601

Stanislawski (R)

Reading Sufficiency Act

Career Readiness
Oklahoma SB 280 Simpson (R) An Act Relating to Long-term Care Interagency Coordination


HB 2211 Interim Cmt. on Higher Education and Workforce Development Loans for Veterans with Disabilities  Disability-owned Businesses


SB 13 At Gov. Brown's request on behalf of state Dept. of Education

Special Education Terminology 

Career Readiness, Raising Awareness
Oregon HB 2377 Smith (D) Elderly and Disabled Special Transportation Fund Accessible Transportation
Oregon HB 3205 Williamson (D) An Act Relating to Telecommunication Devices Access Program Interagency Coordination
Oregon SB 20 At Gov. Brown's request on behalf of state Dept. of Human Services An Act Relating to Developmental Disability Services Interagency Coordination
Oregon SB 19 At Gov. Brown's request on behalf of state Dept. of Human Services An Act Relating to Human Services Interagency Coordination
Oregon SB 494 Gelser (D) An Act Relating to Employment of Individuals with Disabilities Private-sector Engagement
Oregon HB 2005 Williamson (D) An Act Relating to Family Medical Leave Benefits Private-sector Engagement
Rhode Island SB 171 DiPalma (D) Appropriate Disability Language Interagency Coordination, Raising Awareness
Rhode Island HB 6207 Shekarchi (D) An Act Relating to Statutes and Statutory Construction Interagency Coordination

Rhode Island

HB 5289

McNamara (D)

Appropriate Disability Language

State as Model Employer, Raising Awareness, Private-sector Engagement


SB 46 Massey (R) Dynamic Accessibility Act  Accessible Transportation
Tennessee HB 131 Reedy (R) Enforcement of Disabilty Parking Violations Study Accessible Transportation


SB 759

Yarbro (D)

An Act to Amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 4 State as Model Employer


SB 976 Hughes (R)

Vehicle Registration for Health Conditions Impeeding Communication

Accessible Transportation
Texas  SB 2038 Rodriguez (D) An Act Regarding Occupational Skills Training Interagency Coordination
Texas  HB 4533 Klick (R) Relating to the Administration and Operation of Medicaid Interagency Coordination


SB 753

Huffman (R)

An Act Relating to Wage Requirements for Community Rehabilitation Programs

State as Model Employer
Utah HB 101 Spendlove (R) Autonomous Vehicle Regulations Accessible Transportation


HCR 14 Spendlove (R) Encouraging High Expectations for Students with Disabilities Career Readiness, Family Engagement
Utah SB 96 Christensen (R) Medicaid Expansion Adjustments Interagency Coordination


HB 284

Hawkins (R)

State Agency Web Design Guidelines

State as Model Employer
Virginia HB 2234 Robinson (R) Short-term Disability Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work
Virginia HB 2137 Thomas (R) People First Language

Accessible Transportation, Raising Awareness

Virginia HB 2306 Landes (R) Long-Term Employment Support Services and Extended Employment Services Interagency Coordination
Virginia SB 1485 Hanger (R) Long-Term Employment Support Services and Extended Employment Services Interagency Coordination
Virginia SB 1386 McDougle (R) The 2019 Management Agreement Between the Commonwealth of Virginia and James Madison University Private-sector Engagement


HB 1139 Santos (D)

Future Educator Workforce

Career Readiness
Washington HB 1199 Cody (D) Health Care for Working Individuals with Disabilities Program Interagency Coordination


HB 1706

Frame (D)

State Agency Employment of Persons with Disabilities--Subminimum Wage

State as Model Employer