State Representative Adam Niemerg (R-Dieterich) met Wednesday morning with program directors of three of the programs that serve five of the counties of his legislative district including Clark, Crawford, Edgar, Effingham, and Lawrence. The meeting centered on the strong opposition to proposed legislation (HB793) that would eliminate the “14(c) work certificate” provided for under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“The sponsor of this legislation is exploiting our most vulnerable people from our community without taking into consideration their point of view,” commented Rep. Adam Niemerg. “She is virtue signaling for political gain and ignoring the benefits these workers gain from being able to get up in the morning, get ready with a daily routine, and go to work using the limited skills they may possess. Their sense of worth and independence is greatly enhanced. The pride they take in being a part of a team and making a paycheck enables them to be a part of our communities.”
The proposed change to the Illinois Department of Human Services Act would take effect July 1, 2027. Rep. Niemerg opposed this law when it came to a vote May 19 during Spring Session. Rep. Niemerg wanted to gather more information and hear directly from people on the front line at Developmental Disability Facilities about the impact of this proposed change on their employees.
Information provided by the professionals shows that over the past five years, competitive job placement and training programs have seen reimbursements reduced by 25 percent, while non-work activities have seen a 36 percent increase in state reimbursement. The message is clear if this proposal becomes law…higher pay for play. This is wrong because there is dignity in a job.
One of the service providers called the bill “dreadful,” another said the legislation is “insulting,” and another described the proposal as “very discriminatory.” The most poignant description was “nothing about me without me,” meaning this positive work program is meaningless if these disabled workers aren’t even participating in work. Various workshops around the state estimate that this bill would put at least 50% of these people with disabilities out of work.
The legislation would also change the rates of reimbursement to the providers who work with these clients. The service providers explained that they have calculated different scenarios between work versus non-work programs. Under the first scenario, with clients working at hospitals, grocery stores, and manufacturing facilities, providers determined that they would receive 57% less reimbursement during a year for job training, job coaching, and job counseling than doing non-work activities such as visiting libraries, museums, bowling alleys, parks, and other recreational sites.
Rep. Niemerg provided an update at the meeting on the status of the bill and his efforts to oppose it. This initiative by the Governor and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is also opposed by Care Compassion Acceptance Respect Industries (CCAR).
“This bill did not pass on the first vote, but I fully anticipate the sponsor to push it again in the Fall Veto Session,” added Niemerg. “I will continue to oppose this legislation and continue to reach out to both Democrats and Republicans to oppose this effort to dis-incentivize work for people with disabilities who benefit from these programs.”
Please remember to contact the district office if you have issues or concerns about state programs or public policies at 217-813-6036 or sign up for legislative updates at RepNiemerg.com.