On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Governor Hassan is honoring New Hampshire residents who have improved the lives of disabled people in the state. The annual Governor's Accessibility Awards were given out at a Statehouse ceremony on Tuesday.
Among those honored were the sponsors of Senate Bill 47, a law signed in May that prohibits employers from paying below the minimum wage to disabled employees. Employers could previously apply for waivers that allowed them to pay sub-minimum wages to disabled employees. New Hampshire is the first state in the country to ban that practice.
State Senator Martha Fuller Clark, a Democrat from the Seacoast, was one of the bill’s sponsors. She believes businesses should be more open to hiring people with disabilities.
“That turns out to be an extremely stable work force,” Clark says. “And if you can match their abilities with the jobs that are available, the employer benefits, the business benefits, the individual benefits and his or her family benefits.”
Clark called the law “an important step forward,” and said, “It’s allowed us once again to lead in the area of equality for all.”
Chuck Saia, Executive Director of the Governor’s Commission on Disability, called the law “monumental” and said the Commission was working toward inclusion and accessibility for all.
The Pelham Police Department and Pelham Education Focus Group were also awarded for their Special Outreach and Resource (S.O.A.R.) program. It allows caregivers to register patient information with the police department, including tips on how to smooth interactions between first-responders and individuals with disabilities.