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Proposed bill may help provide employment for people with disabilities in SC

Rep. Neal Collins and Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell
Rep. Neal Collins and Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell(Able South Carolina)
Updated: Dec. 12, 2019 at 9:19 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina Representatives Neal Collins and Mandy Powers Norrell prefiled a bill Dec. 11 that aims to create more employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Currently, only 32 states have policies that encourage businesses to hire people with disabilities while the federal government provides the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to employers who hire people with physical or mental disabilities. South Carolina does not have any guidelines or incentives to incline businesses to hire disabled people.

States with Employment First legislation
States with Employment First legislation(Able South Carolina)

According to executive director of Able SC Kimberly Tissot, the goal of the Employment First Initiative Act is to advance employment of disabled people in the state.

"We look forward to having these discussions at the Statehouse in the new session. South Carolina has been behind other states for far too long, and it is time that we develop an employment culture that truly includes all people, with and without disabilities,” Tissot said.

A 2019 state report compiled by the Employment First Study Committee demonstrated both the need for and the positive impact of employing individuals with disabilities in the state. Currently, of the 727,702 South Carolina residents who have a disability, 67% are unemployed—the 6th highest unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities in the nation.

Director of Advocacy at Able SC Robbie Kopp believes that this bill poses an easy solution for employers struggling to fill vacant positions.

“People with disabilities should have equal opportunities to work. This bill would help employers reach that untapped workforce,” Kopp said.

If this bill passes, it will fill this large employment gap in the state. The bill would also establish the South Carolina Employment First Oversight Commission and appoint 17 members. The commission would recommend strategies to help state agencies, local government and private sectors adopt ways to support disabled persons in need of employment.

This commission will also track state agencies’ progress toward putting into action aspects of the Employment First Initiative Act. The findings would be issued in an annual report to the governor and members of the South Carolina General Assembly.

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