Their newly introduced legislation, HB 2130, with 33 Republican and Democratic cosponsors, will ensure that Employment First policies implemented by Gov. Tom Wolf have the weight of law in Pennsylvania.
“Representatives Cutler and Miller know how important it is for people with disabilities to have the opportunity to compete for jobs in integrated workplaces,” said Dr. Josie Badger, #IWantToWork campaign manager.
“They know people with disabilities want to work, and are able to work. They simply need the chance to work. This legislation will ensure Employment First policies become permanent in Pennsylvania,” Badger said.
When he filed the legislation Cutler noted there are about 200,000 job vacancies every day across Pennsylvania. He said the state has learned through pilot programs and national research that the employment of people with disabilities at competitive wages can be successful for businesses and for people with disabilities.
The legislation, he said, “has a great capacity to empower this important population of Pennsylvania residents. Currently the workforce participation rate for individuals with disabilities is 20 percent, so I am hopeful that this bill will encourage others to seek employment.”
“The need for competitive wages is relevant to everyone,” Cutler said. “I am thankful to Rep. Miller for working with me to draft [this] legislation that will require competitive wages for those with disabilities, rather than paying them well below minimum wage in segregated facilities as is currently the case.”
The Cutler-Miller legislation begins with the declaration “It is the purpose of this act to ensure that individuals with disabilities be given the opportunity to achieve economic independence through jobs that pay regular wages in typical community settings.” It goes on to state that “all individuals are initially presumed competent and able and should be afforded the opportunity to work.”
The legislation sets in place monitoring processes to ensure that local, county, and state agencies develop and implement policies encouraging the hiring of qualified persons with disabilities. It sets a goal of having person with disabilities fill seven percent of state jobs.
The bill has been referred the the House Labor and Industry Committee.