Rep. Heffernan & Sen. McDowell
Brady, Hocker, Hudson, Q. Johnson, Osienski, M. Smith, Walker; Sens. Bunting,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
146th GENERAL ASSEMBLY
HOUSE BILL NO. 319
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLES 19 AND 29 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO AN EMPLOYMENT FIRST PRIORITY POLICY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.
Section 1. Amend Chapter 7, Title 19 of the Delaware
Code by making insertions as shown by underlining as follows:
Employment First Act
§ 740. Short title.
This subchapter may be
known and cited as the "Employment First Act."
§ 741. Statement of
The General Assembly
finds that the benefits of meaningful work have significance and importance to
all working age individuals, including persons with disabilities, which shall
include, but not be limited to, veterans with service-connected
disabilities. Persons with disabilities
have a right to the opportunity for competitive employment. In order to achieve meaningful and
competitive employment for persons with disabilities, employment opportunities
in fully integrated work settings shall be the first and priority option
explored in the service planning for working age persons with disabilities.
§ 742. Definitions.
As used in this
subchapter, unless the context otherwise requires:
employment” means work in the competitive labor market that is performed on a
full-time or part-time basis in an integrated setting and for which a person
with a disability is compensated at or above the minimum wage, but not less
than the customary wage and level of benefits paid by the employer for the same
or similar work performed by persons without disabilities.
means, with respect to an individual:
a. a physical or mental impairment
that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual;
b. a record of such an impairment; or
c. being regarded as having such an
as defined in the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended.
setting” means with respect to an employment outcome, a setting typically found
in the community in which persons with disabilities interact with persons
without disabilities, other than persons without disabilities who are providing
services to those persons with disabilities, to the same extent that persons
without disabilities in comparable positions interact with other persons.
(4) “Working age”
means 14 years of age or older in accordance with § 505, Title 19 of this
§ 743. Employment
It is hereby declared
to be the policy of this State that competitive employment in an integrated
setting shall be considered its first and priority option when offering or
providing services to persons with disabilities who are of working age. All state agencies that provide services and
support to persons with disabilities shall follow this policy and ensure that
it is effectively implemented in their programs and services. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to limit
or disallow any disability benefits to which a person with a disability who is
unable to be employed as contemplated by this Act would otherwise be entitled.
Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require any employer to give
preference to hiring persons with disabilities.
§ 744. Implementation
of policy by state agencies.
(a) All state agencies
shall coordinate efforts and shall collaborate within and among such agencies
to ensure that state programs, policies, procedures and funding support
competitive employment in integrated settings for persons with disabilities who
are of working age. All state agencies shall, whenever feasible, share data and
information across systems in order to track progress toward full
implementation of this Act. All state
agencies are encouraged to adopt measurable goals and objectives to promote
assessment of progress in implementing this Act.
(b) State agencies are
authorized to adopt rules and regulations to implement this Act.
§ 745. Establishment
of Employment First Oversight Commission.
(a) There is hereby
established an Employment First Oversight Commission under the purview of the
State Council for Persons with Disabilities, which shall facilitate the full,
effective and timely implementation of this Act.
(b) The Commission
shall consist of 11 members, who are residents of this State. The Commission shall consist of the following
(1) Four members who are persons with a disability
and who are knowledgeable of disability issues and who are not state employees,
one of which shall be a veteran and one of which shall be a member of the State
Council for Persons with Disabilities, and of whom:
(A) one shall be appointed by the
Speaker of the House of Representatives;
(B) one shall be appointed by the
Minority Leader of the House of Representatives;
(C) one shall be appointed by the
President Pro Tempore of the Senate; and
(D) one shall be appointed by the
Minority Leader of the Senate;
(2) one member who is experienced with employment
service programs and who is not a state employee and who shall be appointed by
the Speaker of the House of Representatives;
(3) a representative of the Division of Industrial
Affairs, appointed by the Secretary of Labor;
(4) a representative of the Division
of Vocational Rehabilitation, appointed by the Secretary of Labor;
(5) the Secretary of Education or a
designee appointed by the Secretary;
(6) the Secretary of Health and Social Services or
a designee appointed by the Secretary;
(7) the Director of the Division of Developmental
Disabilities Services or a designee appointed by the Director; and
(8) the Chair of the Developmental Disabilities
Council or a designee appointed by the Chair.
(c) Except as provided in
subsections (d) and (e) of this section, each member shall serve a term of 3 years,
and may succeed himself or herself for 1 additional term; provided, however,
that where a member was initially appointed to fill a vacancy, such member may
succeed himself or herself for only 1 additional full term. Any person
appointed to fill a vacancy on the Commission shall hold office for the
remainder of the unexpired term of the former member. Each term of office shall
expire on the date specified in the appointment; however, the member shall
remain eligible to participate in Commission proceedings unless and until such
member’s successor is duly appointed.
(d) The terms of the members of the
Commission shall be staggered. Four members shall serve an initial term of 3
years, 4 members shall serve an initial term of 2 years, and the remaining members
shall serve an initial term of 1 year.
Thereafter, all terms shall be for 3 years.
(e) A person, who has never served
on the Commission, may be appointed to the Commission for 2 consecutive terms;
but no such person shall thereafter be eligible for 2 consecutive appointments.
No person, who has been twice appointed to the Commission or who has served on
the Commission for 6 years within any 9-year period, shall again be appointed
to the Commission until an interim period of at least 1 term has expired since
such person last served.
(f) Members of the Commission shall
serve without compensation.
(g) Any member, who is absent
without adequate reason for 3 consecutive meetings, or who fails to attend at
least half of all regular business meetings during any calendar year, shall be
subject to suspension or removal from the Commission.
§ 746. Commission
organization; meetings; officers; quorum.
(a) The Commission
shall hold regularly scheduled business meetings at least once in each quarter,
and at such times as the chairperson deems necessary, or at the request of a
majority of the members of the Commission.
(b) The Commission
annually shall elect a chairperson and vice-chairperson. Each officer shall
serve for 1 year and shall not succeed himself or herself for more than 2
(c) A majority of the
members shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of transacting business.
§ 747. Powers and
duties of Commission.
(a) The Commission
shall review measurable goals and objectives as submitted to it by each
relevant state agency to ensure implementation of this Act. The Commission
shall track the measurable progress of state agencies in implementing this Act.
All state agencies shall fully cooperate with and provide data and information
to assist the Commission in carrying out its duties.
(b) The Commission
shall prepare an annual report as part of, and included in, the annual report
submitted by the State Council for Persons with Disabilities to the Governor
and members of the General Assembly. The report shall detail progress toward
the goals and objectives and full implementation of this Act. All state
agencies shall cooperate with the Commission on the creation and dissemination
of the report. The report also shall identify barriers to achieving the
outcomes along with the effective strategies and policies that can help realize
the employment first initiative.
Section 2. Amend § 8210(b), Title 29 of the Delaware
Code by making insertions as shown by underlining as follows:
(b) This Council shall
have the following duties and responsibilities:
coordination among all state programs, services and plans established for or
related to persons with disabilities.
(2) Review, on a continuing basis, all state
policies, plans, programs and activities concerning persons with disabilities
which are conducted or assisted, in whole or part, by state departments,
agencies or funds in order to determine whether such policies, programs, plans
and activities effectively meet the needs of persons with disabilities.
(3) Make recommendations to the Governor, the General
Assembly and all state departments and agencies respecting ways to improve the
administration of services for persons with disabilities and for facilitating
the implementation of new or expanded programs.
(4) Provide the Governor, the General Assembly, all
interested agencies and the general public with review and comment on all state
legislative proposals affecting people with disabilities.
(5) Provide policymakers and the general public with
analyses and recommendations on federal and local governmental legislation,
regulations and policies affecting state programs and persons with
(6) Propose and promote legislation, regulations and
policies to improve the well-being of persons with disabilities.
(7) Serve as a central state clearinghouse for
information and data regarding:
a. The current numbers of persons
with disabilities and their needs;
b. The location, provision and
availability of services and programs for persons with disabilities;
c. Any other relevant information and
data about persons with disabilities which the council deems appropriate.
(8) Prepare and submit to the Governor and the
General Assembly an annual report of the activities of the Council and the
status of services and programs for persons with disabilities.
(9) Serve as advisory council for the Community-Based
Attendant Services program established by Chapter 94 of Title 16.
(10) Serve as the primary brain injury council for
the State. In furtherance of this role, the Council shall:
a. Fulfill the duties and
responsibilities set forth in paragraphs (b)(1) through (8) of this section
with respect to persons with brain injuries;
b. Maintain a standing brain injury
committee to facilitate prevention and centralized interdisciplinary planning,
assessment and an improved service delivery system for individuals with brain
injury comprised of the following members, or designees of such members:
1. Director of the
Division of Public Health;
2. Director of the
Division of Developmental Disabilities Services;
3. Director of the
Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health;
4. Director of the
Division of Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities;
5. Director of the
Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services;
6. Director of
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation;
Children Director of Department of Education;
8. Chair of
Governor's Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens;
9. Chair of Developmental
10. Minimum of 3
survivors of brain injury or family members of such individuals; and
of prevention, planning, veterans and service delivery organizations appointed
by the Council, including a representative of the state chapter of the Brain
Injury Association of America and a representative of the "protection and
advocacy agency" defined in § 1102 of Title 16.
(11) Serve as administrative agency for the
Employment First Oversight Commission as established in § 745 of Title 19.
All persons with disabilities, including veterans
with service-connected disabilities, have a right to the opportunity for
competitive employment. To promote the
realization of this right, this bill creates the Employment First Act. The Act requires that state agencies that
provide services and support to persons with disabilities shall consider, as
their first option, competitive employment in an integrated setting for
persons with disabilities. The Act
does not require an employer to give preference to hiring persons with
The Act requires all state agencies to follow this
policy for employment by coordinating and collaborating efforts among agencies. In addition, agencies may share data and
information whenever possible across systems in order to track progress. State agencies may adopt rules and
regulations to implement the Act.
This Act further establishes an Employment First
Oversight Commission as part of the State Council for Persons with
Disabilities. The Commission reviews measurable goals and objectives as
submitted to it by each relevant state agency to ensure implementation of the
Act. The Commission tracks the measurable progress of state agencies in
implementing the Act. The Commission prepares an annual report as part
of the annual report submitted by the State Council for Persons with
Disabilities to the Governor and the General Assembly. The report
details progress made toward the goals and objectives as well as strategies
and policies to help realize the employment first initiative.