Trenton – In an effort to help ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities within the workforce, the Senate today passed legislation sponsored by Senator Fred Madden and Senate President Steve Sweeney, which would promote the employment of people with disabilities through the enactment of task forces.
The bill, S-1937, would establish a task force to study and make recommendations to the Governor and Legislature to address the problem of unemployment and underemployment among individuals with disabilities in the state and review available programs within the State and local governments.
“About 25 percent of New Jersey adults have some type of disability, and they have a right, like anyone else, to participate as an independent member of society, and that includes being able to hold a job,” said Senator Madden (D-Camden/Gloucester). “However, there is a clear discrepancy with how few of these adults are in the workforce due to a lack of inclusion by many employers. This task force will be able to study this underemployment as well as help to ensure that these individuals are receiving an equal opportunity to hold a government job, fostering a more inclusive environment at all levels of government throughout the state.”
The resolution, SJR-17, would establish the ‘Persons with Disabilities and Senior Citizen Transportation Services Task Force’ to study and make recommendations concerning ways to improve transportation services for senior citizens and people with disabilities.
“Both senior citizens and individuals living with disabilities have struggled to independently use public transportation for far too long,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “Oftentimes, infrastructure is simply not accessible for them to use, making what should be an easy task sometimes impossible to do. Through addressing the major issues that currently exist, this task force will be able to proactively work towards meaningful solutions that will allow for better representation for those in the elderly and special needs communities.”
Under the resolution, the task force would be required to consider specific issue areas including but not limited to transportation obstacles for senior citizens and people with disabilities, improvement in accessible infrastructure and technology and efficient communication of delays and cancellations for public transportation.
“We must change low societal expectations of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities that lead to job discrimination and replace them with the belief that everyone deserves the opportunity and accompanying tools and support to work. To do that, the government on all levels must lead the way, act as a model employer, and illustrate for private businesses the multitude of benefits that come with employing people with disabilities,” said Tom Baffuto, Executive Director, the Arc of New Jersey. “We thank Senate President Sweeney and Senator Madden for seeking ways to improve the employment outlook for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and for ensuring everyone has the chance to participate in integrated employment and community life.”
Senator Madden and Senator Sweeney recently joined with others in the creation of The New Jersey Legislative Disability Caucus to serve as a bipartisan forum to promote inclusion in shaping public policies through increased awareness of the complexities of the disabilities system and issues impacting individuals with disabilities and their families.
The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 35-0 and the resolution passed by a vote of 35-0.