Would Work To Combat Disparity In Treatment of Minorities With Disabilities
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice and M. Teresa Ruiz to help alleviate the disparate treatment of racial minorities with disabilities recently received final approval in the Senate and now awaits action by the governor.
“We know that many barriers still exist for racial and ethnic minorities when it comes to obtaining employment, to getting a quality education, and receiving health care and other services that they are entitled to under the law,” said Senator Rice (D-Essex). “When a person who is a racial or ethnic minority has a disability, they often times experience double-discrimination. We have to find ways to ensure that individuals who have disabilities receive the appropriate services and equal treatment. The purpose of this commission is to give us an idea of the range and the breadth of the problems faced by minorities with disabilities so that we can develop a roadmap to addressing them.”
The bill (S116) would create a commission within the Department of Community Affairs to study issues related to and faced by persons with disabilities from under-represented communities. The intent of the bill is to organize a statewide effort to conduct a wide ranging study to determine the additional limitations put on racial or ethnic minorities with disabilities and how to alleviate those limitations.
“All New Jersey residents should be given equal access to education, to employment and healthcare services. Unfortunately, we know that many times populations that are underrepresented are not provided the same opportunities as their peers. A person of color who has a disability faces unique challenges,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “As a state, we have to work to alleviate any disparities that exist and make sure that all residents are treated fairly. The creation of a commission to focus entirely on these issues is a significant step forward in that effort.”
The 20-member commission would be in, but not of, the Department of Community Affairs. Ten members would be public members appointed by the Governor, the Senate President and the Speaker of the General Assembly. The other ten would be non-voting members and would come from various state agencies. The DCA would provide administrative support staff to the Commission. The Commission would be required to report on its progress annually on or before October 31 of each year.
The Assembly approved the bill 47-16-10; the Senate approved it 34-1. It is now on the governor’s desk.
NJ Senate Majority Office
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