Florida Senate - 2015 SB 848 By Senator Richter 23-00853-15 2015848__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to the employment of individuals with 3 disabilities; providing a short title; providing 4 legislative intent; providing a purpose; requiring 5 specified state agencies and organizations to develop 6 and implement an interagency cooperative agreement; 7 requiring the interagency cooperative agreement to 8 provide the roles, responsibilities, and objectives of 9 state agencies and organizations; authorizing the 10 state agencies and organizations that are parties to 11 the interagency cooperative agreement to adopt rules; 12 providing an effective date. 13 14 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 15 16 Section 1. (1) SHORT TITLE.—This act may be cited as the 17 “Employment First Act.” 18 (2) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.—The Legislature finds that 19 employment is the most direct and cost-effective means to assist 20 an individual in achieving independence and fulfillment; 21 however, individuals with disabilities are confronted by unique 22 barriers to employment which inhibit their opportunities to 23 compete fairly in the labor force. It is the intent of the 24 Legislature to provide a framework for a long-term commitment to 25 improving employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities 26 in this state through the implementation of the Employment First 27 Act. 28 (3) PURPOSE.—The purpose of the Employment First Act is to 29 prioritize employment of individuals with disabilities and to 30 change the employment system to better integrate individuals 31 with disabilities into the workforce. The Employment First Act 32 encourages a collaborative effort between state agencies and 33 organizations to achieve better employment outcomes for 34 individuals with disabilities. 35 (4) INTERAGENCY COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT.—The following state 36 agencies and organizations shall develop an interagency 37 cooperative agreement to implement the Employment First Act: 38 (a) The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation of the 39 Department of Education. 40 (b) The Division of Blind Services of the Department of 41 Education. 42 (c) The Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student 43 Services of the Department of Education. 44 (d) The Agency for Persons with Disabilities of the 45 Department of Children and Families. 46 (e) The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program of the 47 Department of Children and Families. 48 (f) The Department of Economic Opportunity. 49 (g) Workforce Florida, Inc. 50 (h) The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council. 51 (i) Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities. 52 (j) Other appropriate organizations. 53 (5) ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES.—The interagency cooperative 54 agreement shall outline the roles and responsibilities of the 55 state agencies and organizations identified in subsection (4). 56 The objectives of the interagency cooperative agreement must 57 include all of the following: 58 (a) Establishing a commitment by leadership of the state 59 agencies and organizations to maximize the resources and 60 coordination to improve employment outcomes for individuals with 61 disabilities who seek publicly funded services. 62 (b) Developing strategic goals and benchmarks to assist the 63 state agencies and organizations in the implementation of this 64 agreement. 65 (c) Identifying financing and contracting methods that will 66 help to prioritize employment for individuals with disabilities 67 by state agencies and organizations. 68 (d) Establishing training methods to better integrate 69 individuals with disabilities into the workforce. 70 (e) Ensuring collaborative efforts between multiple 71 agencies to achieve the purposes of this act. 72 (f) Promoting service innovations to better assist 73 individuals with disabilities in the workplace. 74 (g) Identifying accountability measures to ensure the 75 sustainability of this agreement. 76 (6) RULEMAKING.—The state agencies and organizations that 77 are parties to the interagency cooperative agreement may adopt 78 rules to implement this act. 79 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2015.