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Minutes for HB2219 - Committee on Commerce

Short Title

Enacting the Kansas targeted employment act to provide tax credits for the employment of persons with developmental disabilities.

Minutes Content for Wed, Feb 16, 2022

Chair Erickson opened the hearing on HB 2219.

Staff provided brief overview of the bill. (Attachment 3)

Rachel Neumann, Director of Operations, COF Training Services, spoke in favor of the bill. (Attachment 4) The bill has the potential to increase work opportunities for many Kansans who have a strong desire to work but have had limited opportunities afforded to them, and also has the added benefit  of creating workforce solutions for Kansas Companies in need.

Samantha Snow asked the Committee to increase work opportunities for more people like her. Samantha was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. (Attachment 5)

Craig Evans, President, Integrated Employment Enterprises, appeared in favor of the bill. (Attachment 6) The bill will help Kansas companies find and retain reliable labor, and narrow the gap between the employment rate of Kansans with disabilities and without disabilities. The bill could have a momentous effect on the Medicaid funded supports for unemployed and under employed Kansans with disabilities.

Brent Holland's mother Mary stated that her son is a 50-year-old man with high-functioning autism, and would need an employer to be understanding and willing to provide additional accommodation due to his high level of anxiety and off task behavior. (Attachment 7)

Sheila Brines's mother Roxy stated that her daughter is deaf and blind, she has had several jobs over the years but most of her work has come from sheltered workshops. The bill allows Sheila to work in a safe setting on projects that she can be very successful with. (Attachment 8)

Stacy Chandler, Ottawa, Kansas, supports the bill because she wants to work more hours per week. (Attachment 9)

Julie Thuro has two children that require assistance at work, her daughter Randi is 27 years old, who has a learning disability; her son Zach is 30 years old with autism, he has limited verbal language and a lot of sensory sensitivity.(Attachment 10)  The bill will support her son and daughter and the thousands of people like them.

Nick Woods, Associate Director, InterHab, testified in support of the bill. (Attachment 11) The bill would expand employment opportunities for Kansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities; (I/DD) and will create greater choices and options for individuals with IDD  in becoming independent, productive members of their communities.

Stephanie Ramussen, Vice President of Long Term Services & Supports for Sunflower Health Plan, spoke in favor of the bill. (Attachment 12) Sunflower Health Plan 2022 employment initiatives for persons with IDD include the following:

  • Continued offering of Competitive Employment as a first option within the goal setting/care planning process
  • Value-based contracting which incentivizes IDD provider for assisting individuals with achieving competitive employment
  • Continued, successful management and growth of Kansas Project Search
  • Continued education of persons with IDD about the Kansas Medicaid Buy-In Programs: Working Opportunities Reward Kansans (WORK) and Supports & Training for Employing People Successfully (STEPS)

The bill compliments their efforts through reinforcing businesses for employing persons with IDD.

Sara Hart Weir, Senior Advisor, Inclusion Connections, testified in favor of the bill. (Attachment 13) This vital legislation provides employers a new incentive to not only hire - but also retain - skilled labor and talent from the disability community. These tax credits will create additional incentives for employers to hire and retain individuals with developmental disabilities, and in turn, employers will gain talented staff members who are ready, willing, and able to work.

Mike Burgess, Director of Policy and Outreach at the Disability Rights Center of Kansas, (DRC) spoke in favor of the bill. (Attachment 14) DRC worked extensively with the House Commerce, Labor, and Economic Development Committee, and representatives of COF and InterHab on this version of the Kansas Targeted Employment for Kansans with Disabilities Act.

Written testimony in support of the bill was provided by:

Meri Gifford, Self (Attachment 15)

Derek Dotson, Self  (Attachment 16)

Scott Mayes, Quality Control Officer, COF Training Services Inc.  (Attachment 17)

Shelly Mays, Deputy Diretor, Johnson County Developmental Supports  (Attachment 18)

Martha Gabehart, Executive Director, Kansas Commission on Disability Concerns  (Attachment 19)

Jeff Schroeder, Public Policy Coordinator, Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities  (Attachment 20)

Kevin Walker, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, Overland Park Chamber (Attachment 21)

Chairperson Erickson closed the hearing on HB 2219.

The next meeting is February 17, 2022. The meeting was adjourned at 11:41 am.