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HB 211 boosts employment opportunities for those with disabilities

By Lauren Maxwell Photojournalist: Rachel McPherron - 2:23 PM May 29, 2014

For some people a job can be little more than a way to collect a paycheck at the end of the month. For people who experience disabilities, however, a job can mean so much more.

A bill signed Thursday by Gov. Sean Parnell seeks to get more people the training and support they need to be gainfully employed. House Bill 211 directs state agencies that interact with people who have disabilities to coordinate their services.

“The goal is for every Alaskan who has a disability to have the opportunity to be trained and to be employed, not just for their own self-worth but also to give back to the community,” said Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority CEO Jeff Jessee.

Parnell said the bill makes Alaska an “employment first” state — one of about 25 in the country that is focusing efforts on employment opportunities for those with disabilities. The bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Charisse Millett, has no funding attached but it does set common goals for state agencies and requires them to report regularly on how well they are meeting those goals.

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