A bill aimed at bettering the lives of people with disabilities will soon be headed to Gov. Bill Walker’s desk for a signature. House Bill 188 cleared its final hurdle in the Legislature Saturday after unanimously passing both the House and Senate.


It adopts the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, allowing people with disabilities to open a tax-free savings account. Those who qualify could store up to $14,000 a year of earned income for disability-related expenses without risk of losing federal disability benefits. The account would be capped at $400,000.


Rep. Dan Saddler said the measure is especially timely given the state’s tight financial situation.


“At a time when people have financial concerns, I think it’s important that we’re creating a tool that says, ‘We’re gonna let you save the benefits of your hard work and you’ll also be able to keep getting the benefits to which your disability entitles you, so you can look to your own investments, your own assets to improve your life,'” Saddler said in an interview Friday. “It’s a good thing, it’s going to empower people to live a better life in Alaska.”


Saddler said he’s seen first-hand how this bill would help Alaskans.


“We have a lot of friends in the disability community. My son has a disability,” Saddler said. “And so we know an awful lot about the needs, the challenges to their lives and the benefits of having this kind of financial tool at their disposal.”


Gov. Walker wouldn’t comment on whether he plans to sign the bill into law. A spokesperson said he will review the legislation once it reaches his desk.


KTVA 11’s Liz Raines can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.


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