A provision that’s set to become law this month aims to increase the number of Missouri’s working adults with disabilities.

It is something Missouri lawmakers worked to get past the finish line this year, and it becomes law on August 28. The number of unemployed adults with disabilities is higher than those who are not, according to Rep. Melanie Stinnett, R-Springfield. She said Missouri needs to reduce barriers for employment.

“There was a piece that required them to put their driver’s license number in to move through to complete the application,” Stinnett said. “Many individuals with physical disabilities don’t have a driver’s license. They had that barrier to even being able to apply. When you don’t know those things, because it’s not the life you live or the work that you work within, it’s hard to create systems that are accessible.”

The Missouri Employment First Act requires state agencies to provide employment-related services or support to residents with disabilities. It makes sure that they receive the opportunity to understand and explore education and training to become employed.

Stinnett said Missouri needs to get rid of obstacles that block disabled Missourians from getting a job.

“Analyzing the jobs that we offer as a state, which of those jobs can be provided by anyone who might apply and not creating additional barriers,” she said. “I think there are a lot of ways that our state agencies can do that.”

Stinnett, who is the sponsor of the Missouri Employment First Act, said another inequality that’s of concern is pay.

“Those wages should be the same,” said Stinnett. “For an individual that comes in and has a disability versus someone without a disability, if they are doing a comparable level job, those wages should not be different.”

The provisions were added to SB 45 and SB 106 that were signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson.

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