Friday, May 4, 2012

Parlette named ‘Legislator of the Year’ for her support of individuals with disabilities

Yesterday The Community Employment Alliance named Sen. Linda Evans Parlette  its 2012 Legislator of the Year. The award was given for Parlette’s advocacy for individuals with developmental disabilities, and particularly her sponsorship of Senate Bill 6384, a measure that will help people with disabilities find and retain jobs. The measure passed the Legislature earlier this year and was signed into law March 19.  

Parlette, R-Wenatchee, received her award at the Community Employment Alliance luncheon today in Spokane, where she addressed members of the organization.

“The law we passed this year puts the focus on securing meaningful employment for disabled individuals, which makes a real difference to them and their families,” said Parlette. “It will also have a positive impact on their communities and the employers that hire them. It was a pleasure to work closely with individuals, employers and advocacy groups all across Washington to get this important legislation passed.”

AtWork!’s CEO, Chris Brandt, is President of the CEA and took the opportunity to personally thank the Senator for her efforts at the Spokane Awards Luncheon.

Parlette’s measure reinforces Washington’s employment-first policy for people with disabilities by:

  • Directing the state to work with counties and stakeholders to strengthen and expand existing community-access programs that integrate disabled people into their communities, as well as support independent living and skills.
  • Requiring that individuals 21 years of age and older be enrolled in supported employment for nine months, at which point they would be offered the choice of transitioning to community access programs. The House of Representatives amended the bill slightly to allow an exemption to this practice in some circumstances – a change Parlette believes improved upon the original bill, and one that was accepted by the Senate before it moved on to the governor to be signed into law. 

The Community Employment Alliance is a non-profit advocacy organization with a membership network of 50 businesses and employment service providers located across Washington. Its members provide services to more than 10,000 people with disabilities. The alliance’s mission is to advocate, educate and partner for employment opportunities for people with disabilities. 

Employment programs in Washington help people with developmental disabilities earn $40 million in wages each year. For every dollar invested there is a return to taxpayers of $1.46. To maintain federal matching dollars for these programs, Washington must continue in the same direction as the federal government, which is employment-focused. Parlette’s legislation takes the state in that direction.

“It was a tremendous honor to be recognized today with this award,” Parlette said. “This is one of the most meaningful and impactful pieces of legislation I’ve had the opportunity to sponsor during my time as a legislator. It’s partnerships like this that make doing this job such an honor!”

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