Kelly signs bill boosting job prospects for people with disabilities with tax credits, wage grants

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TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly signed legislation expanding a Kansas tax credit to incentivize purchase of services or goods from vendors employing individuals with disabilities and creating a program to help businesses make the transition to paying people with disabilities at least minimum wage.

The reforms designed to improve job prospects of Kansans with disabilities was contained in Senate Bill 15, which last month cleared the Senate 34-0 and the House 117-1.

“Kansans with disabilities deserve a fair wage for the work they perform,” Kelly said. “I’m signing this bipartisan legislation to create more opportunities for people with disabilities, grow our workforce and ensure every Kansan can work with dignity and respect.”

Under the law, businesses that paid Kansans with disabilities less than minimum wage wouldn’t be eligible for the disability employment tax credit. The aggregate amount of tax credits under the program would be $8 million in the tax years 2024 through 2028.

The $1 million matching grant program would help sheltered workshop employers permitted to offer a subminimum wage evolve into an integrated employment environment where workers were paid minimum wage, said Rep. Sean Tarwater, a Stilwell Republican.

State grants for help provide pay raises for people with disabilities must be matched dollar-for-dollar by sheltered workshop employers.

“By incentivizing businesses that purchase products from companies with integrated workforces, we are creating more jobs for Kansans with disabilities,” Tarwater said. “This spurs local economies across the state as the workforce grows.”

The bill defined workshop employers as private, nonprofit, state or local government institutions employing people with intellectual, developmental or physical disabilities.

In addition, the law eliminated a requirement Kansans with disabilities work a minimum number of hours to qualify for health insurance coverage.

“The Disability Employment Act and the sheltered workshop transition grant program is a win-win for Kansans with disabilities and businesses,” said Martha Gabehart, executive director of the Kansas Commission on Disability Concerns.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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