LANSING — In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, state Reps. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) and Steve Marino introduced House Bills 5150 and 5151 respectively today to open up greater employment opportunities for Michiganders with disabilities. The bipartisan package would allow employers to apply for up to $1,000 to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.

“Michiganders with disabilities have the same right as anyone else to build a life that’s right for them here in our state,” said Hoadley. “When advocacy interns from Disability Network Southwest Michigan proposed this idea to help more people with disabilities enter the workplace, we were ready to get to work in the Legislature. I'm proud to stand with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support these bills, especially during National Disability Employment Awareness Month."

Hoadley’s bill would create the “Centralized Reasonable Accommodations Act” to empower the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to manage employer requests, while Marino’s bill would secure funding for the program through the Workmen’s Compensation Second Injury Fund, which is designed to compensate employers for payments made to employees with disabilities.

“Disabilities only extend as far as the barriers we allow to stand in the way,” said Paul Ecklund, ADA Specialist and Systems Advocate with Disability Network Southwest Michigan. “I believe this legislation takes great strides toward tearing down obstacles to employment so that our neighbors with disabilities can readily participate in the workforce.”

"People with disabilities want to work and are able to contribute to our workforce," said Michelle Roberts, Michigan Protection & Advocacy Services Executive Director. "We applaud this legislative effort to support employers in accommodating people with disabilities."