Senate Passes Bill To Encourage The Employment Of Individuals With Disabilities

Trenton – In an effort to encourage the employment of individuals with disabilities and special needs, the Senate today passed legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Troy Singleton which would require state agencies to make good faith efforts to purchase five percent of their goods from central nonprofit agencies.

“For individuals with disabilities, finding employment is tougher than it is for others, so it is imperative that we support businesses that actively employ them and encourage other businesses to hire them,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “It is crucial we ensure that these potential job seekers are being given not only the access to employment, but the education, training, and support services necessary for them to thrive in these jobs. This bill will specifically help the special needs and visually impaired communities with gaining employment that helps them to live full and rewarding lives.”

The bill, S-994, advances the goals established by the “Rehabilitation Facilities Set Aside Act,” by requiring that State agencies and local government to make good faith efforts to purchase five percent of their goods from the central nonprofit agencies designated by the commissioner of the Department of Human Services.

“The ‘Rehabilitation Facilities Act’ assists individuals who are blind or have severe disabilities achieve maximum independence through productive employment by assuring a continuous market for their goods and services,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “This bill would further these goals, increasing the state purchasing percentage from Central Nonprofit Agencies from three percent to five percent in an effort to encourage more people to frequent these businesses. This would send a strong message that New Jersey is truly inclusive of workers with disabilities, and fully committed to ensuring the success of people with special needs.”

“Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Troy Singleton continue to show their commitment to addressing the issue of unemployment and underemployment of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through S-994, an important step toward encouraging greater inclusion in the workforce,” said Cathy Chin, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities. “We appreciate their ongoing efforts to harness the power of government to help create more meaningful employment opportunities for this vast and untapped talent pool.”

The bill was approved by the Senate with a vote of 37-0.