Legislation

On May 17, 2016 Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 400 into Pennsylvania Act 26. Read more about the signing here. But our work is not done – we still have much more to do.

Making Pennsylvania an Employment First State

Pennsylvania has an opportunity to move from rhetoric to action by joining 22 other states in adopting Employment First legislation and implementing policies leading to more hiring of people with disabilities and providing qualified, motivated workers for Pennsylvania businesses. By supporting Employment First legislation Senate Bill 21 and House Bill 1641, we can make equal employment a reality for all Pennsylvanians with disabilities who are ready and want to work.

It’s about a fundamental shift in attitude. Employment First legislation shifts public attitude away from “taking care” of people with disabilities to “maximizing” the employment potential of people with disabilities.

It’s about Employment First, but not only. Employment First legislation will result in a revolutionary change in support for employment for people with disabilities. Currently, the state spends $400 million on day programs for people with intellectual disabilities with only 5 percent going to support employment. This legislation supports a major shift in funding and priorities.

It’s about creating a plan and setting goals. This legislation requires the governor to develop and submit a three year plan to make Employment First a reality and set a goal of 7 percent of the state workforce made up of talented people with a disability.

It’s about helping, not hurting, providers. Employment First legislation requires state agencies to develop financial incentives to enable providers to focus their energies on helping people with disabilities get and keep jobs in private businesses and public agencies.

It’s about accountability and transparency. Employment First legislation creates an Employment First Over- sight Commission to measure and report progress.

A sample letter to your Senator:

Senator [your senator’s name], 

I am writing to you because of the Mensch/Wiley Bill for Employment First legislation, the bipartisan legislation comes after Gov. Tom Wolf issued an Executive Order implementing a number of Employment First policies.

The order defined Employment First to be that “competitive integrated employment is the first consideration and preferred outcome of publicly-funded education, training, employment and related services, and long-term supports and services for working-age Pennsylvanians with a disability.”

“We greatly appreciate Gov. Wolf’s order, but believe that legislation, adding reporting requirements, creating accountability among state agencies and putting Employment First priorities into law is an even stronger approach,” Dr. Josie Badger #IWantToWork Campaign Manager.

Pennsylvania employers have 200,000 openings and not enough people to fill those jobs. People with disabilities are qualified, capable candidates willing to fulfill this need within the workforce. Employees with disabilities have proven to be exemplary hard workers who are loyal to their employer and maintain a lower absentee rate than their peers.

Permanent employment first legislation will ensure people with disabilities find meaningful competitive integrated employment. Expanding employment opportunities for people with disabilities will create taxpayers and lessen the impact on support services. Employment First legislation will enable people with disabilities lead fuller lives.

I would also like to thank you for taking the time to read this letter and for hearing me out. If you have any questions, please email Dr. Josie Badger, #IWantToWork campaign manager, at  josiebadger@hotmail.com.

Thank you,

[your name]

A sample letter to your Representative:

Representative [your representative’s name],

I am writing to you because of Cutler/Miller for Employment First legislation, the bipartisan legislation comes after Gov. Tom Wolf issued an Executive Order implementing a number of Employment First policies.

The order defined Employment First to be that “competitive integrated employment is the first consideration and preferred outcome of publicly-funded education, training, employment and related services, and long-term supports and services for working-age Pennsylvanians with a disability.”

“We greatly appreciate Gov. Wolf’s order, but believe that legislation, adding reporting requirements, creating accountability among state agencies and putting Employment First priorities into law is an even stronger approach,” Dr. Josie Badger #IWantToWork Campaign Manager.

Pennsylvania employers have 200,000 openings and not enough people to fill those jobs. People with disabilities are qualified, capable candidates willing to fulfill this need within the workforce. Employees with disabilities have proven to be exemplary hard workers who are loyal to their employer and maintain a lower absentee rate than their peers.

Permanent employment first legislation will ensure people with disabilities find meaningful competitive integrated employment. Expanding employment opportunities for people with disabilities will create taxpayers and lessen the impact on support services. Employment First legislation will enable people with disabilities lead fuller lives.

I would also like to thank you for taking the time to read this letter and for hearing me out. If you have any questions, please email Dr. Josie Badger, #IWantToWork campaign manager, at  josiebadger@hotmail.com.

Thank you,

[your name]

Let’s Send It!

 

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