PA 16-118—HB 5438
Human Services Committee
AN ACT DELETING OBSOLETE STATUTORY PROVISIONS CONCERNING WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
SUMMARY: This act eliminates the Department of Rehabilitation Services' (DORS) workshops for blind people and state employee health insurance coverage for the blind individuals formerly employed in those workshops. (According to DORS, the agency has not operated such workshops since 2003. ) It also eliminates:
1. labeling and registering requirements for certain goods made by blind people,
2. an exemption from license requirements and fees for products produced by the Connecticut Institute for the Blind, and
3. a requirement that entities supported in whole or part by the state that purchase products or services provided by persons with disabilities (excluding blindness) do so through DORS.
By law, DORS may expend up to $10,000 per person per fiscal year for services for individuals who are over age 21, blind or visually impaired, and deaf. The act conforms to agency practice by specifying that services provided through this expenditure are community inclusion services. Under the act, "community inclusion services" help people with disabilities connect with their peers without disabilities and with the community.
The act also allows, rather than requires, DORS to adopt regulations setting reimbursement rates for people or entities receiving DORS interpreting services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2016
DORS WORKSHOPS FOR THE BLIND
The act eliminates DORS' ability, within available appropriations, to maintain and develop workshops to train and employ blind people to provide services and produce products used by state agencies and departments and municipalities. (According to DORS, the agency has not operated such workshops since 2003. ) It removes provisions related to these workshops, such as the administrative services commissioner's workshop-related responsibilities and a requirement that agencies give purchasing preference to the workshops' products and services.
The act also eliminates a provision allowing DORS, within available appropriations, to fund employment and vocational training at community rehabilitation facilities. By law, unaffected by the act, DORS may establish, operate, foster, and promote the establishment of rehabilitation facilities and make grants to various organizations to do so.
For blind people formerly employed in DORS workshops on December 31, 2002, the act eliminates eligibility for coverage under the state's group health insurance plan for state employees. Under prior law, DORS paid for the cost of providing coverage for such individuals under this plan.
LABELING GOODS PRODUCED BY THE BLIND
The act also eliminates a (1) prohibition and related penalty for labeling, representing, or designating goods as having been manufactured by any blind person or entity serving the blind unless at least 75% of the total hours of labor used to produce the goods were rendered by blind individuals and (2) requirement that any person, institute, agency, or nonprofit corporation that manufactures or produces goods meeting the labeling requirement register annually with DORS.
GOODS AND SERVICES PROVIDED BY PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
By law, and with certain exceptions, any department, institution, or agency supported by the state must give preference in purchasing to goods and services that (1) are produced by individuals with disabilities (excluding blindness) through community rehabilitation programs or workshops established, operated, or funded by nonprofit and nonsectarian organizations and (2) meet quality, quantity, and price requirements. The act removes the requirement that such purchases be made from DORS.
OLR Tracking: MF; HP; PF; bs