HB 1706 – Elimination of Special Certificates

Below is a copy of an email to sponsors of this bill that was heard today in the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee.   This bill is being heard without an understanding of the full impact and pushed “as the right thing to do”.  I’m sorry, but we have already seen how policies driven by ideology with little regard to facts, evaluation and assessment of changes has contributed to our current and continued crisis in the supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
It’s time to stop the charades, work together and come to real, sustainable solutions that best benefit the most people.  HB 1706 is not one of those solutions.
Collaboration concept in word tag cloud

As a sponsor of HB 1706 I am writing you this email with information regarding the discrimination of this bill by denying the opportunity of any disabled person to work as an apprentice, learner or messenger.  By eliminating the special certificates for people with disabilities, the other jobs are also denied.  Apprenticeship, learners and messengers can be great jobs for people with certain disabilities and it’s shameful to deny those choices.

As stated in the documentary “Bottom Dollars” produced by Disability Rights Washington and Rooted in Rights  – “If people are given the proper services and supports and proper assistive technology, the sky is the limit for many, many individuals”  I truly believe this – unfortunately, HB 1706 does not address any of the issues of support – just the wage.  Do not pass HB 1706 until all the issues are addressed and planned as is recommended in research by national agencies.

Supported Employment is great – it can open up many opportunities for people.  It needs funding to be successful and this bill does not address the issue of supporting funds for job coaches, job development, job training or transition planning.  It only looks at eliminating the special certificates.  Eliminating special certificates without addressing the critical issue of funding supported employment/integrated employment for this population will result in a crisis.  This population is already involved in a crisis situation with lack of caregivers and supported living with many people stuck in hospitals with no place to go.  Passing this bill at this time is not in the best interest of anyone.

It is interesting to note that not one research report of any advocacy agency recommends immediate elimination of certificates.  A well planned and funded transition is needed for a stable and sustainable integrated supported employment opportunities.  There is nothing in this bill that addresses any issues regarding transition.  It has been stated that a rapid elimination would actually be detrimental to our population.

Elimination of special certificates without taking into consideration the other issues involved will only result in job loss.  It will not increase the employment opportunities nor will it mean that those with disabilities will now make a living wage. When a person is only able to work 10 hours a week, minimum wage will not allow them to be self-supporting.

In Seattle, the legislation caused people to lose hours at their jobs.  Yes, their wages increased but their hours decreased.  For some of these people their job was also their opportunity to be integrated in the community – with the loss of hours, their community integration opportunity decreased too. A question asked in today’s public hearing by Representative Mosbruker was regarding an evaluation of what has happened in places that have eliminated the special certificate.  This is a very critical question that also needs to be answered before moving forward.  There is information available on this for New Hampshire, Maine and some other states – I would be more than happy to provide links to you.

In Seattle, there were 8 people who were working under a Special Certificate – 6 at Ballard Locks were working 5 hours a day had their hours cut to 3 hours a day, the person at Ballard Lutheran had her hours cut from 15 hours a week to 12 hours a week and the person at Ballard Market was working 6 hours a week and did not have hours cut but the manager express concern about being able to hire employees with significant intellectual/developmental disabilities in the future.  It should be noted that none of these employees needed 1:1 job support for their jobs.

I did not hear anyone testify about the support needs for those involved in integrated employment or talk about the number of hours these employees may work a week or the coordination of supports (transportation, housing, personal needs support)  needed to be employed.  These are all critical issues that need discussion before a bill such as this is passed.

Again, as an example, my son who lives in Supported Living also has supported employment.  He works 9 hours a week at Lowe’s and makes $16.59 an hour.  This means that his gross wages are $597 per month.  He also receives SSI which is reduced due to his wages so overall his income is roughly $900.00.  He needs to pay rent, utilities, groceries and all living expenses from that $900.00.

The County (through DDA) pays the employment vendor about $2400.00 a month to provide the support to my son for his 1:1 job support.  What have you heard about the funding for these integrated jobs for people like my son who needs 1:1 support to be employed in an integrated community setting?  While the employer is paying the employee minimum wage, someone needs to pay the job coach or there is no job at all.

Please do not pass HB 1706 at this time.  Yes, fair and equitable wages are important but in order to have fair and equitable wages in an integrated setting we need to look at the whole picture.

At the risk of continued personal assaults from one of the people testifying today, I feel obligated to inform people of the consequences of taking such rash actions without a full understanding and acknowledgement of the various issues involved in coordination of supports. It was not a collaborative process at all with Shaun Bickley (he was co-chair of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities) taking the helm and violating the First Amendment by censoring and blocking comments from constituents to the Seattle Commission and later writing libelous comments about others and most recently commiting fraud, conspiracy and interference with contractual relations with regards to my work as a registered nurse.  This is all in retaliation against me for trying to have accountability and transparency in the process of the elimination of special certificates in Seattle.

I would be more than happy to provide information on national research regarding the issue of special certificates and special wages, integrated and supported employment and transition planning to ensure sustainability and success.

Thank you for your concern and attention to this critical issue.  

Kevin – 34 days trapped, restrained, drugged and traumatized in a hospital

Why is traumatizing an autistic man allowed to happen?

How is Kevin going to heal from this abuse?

drug addiction

Kevin’s 33rd day in a hospital room. (Now it’s 34 days as of Feb 13, 2019)

The last 4 days Kevin has become increasingly desperate. The nursing staff at the Medical Care Unit where he is are such a great group of professionals. They have tried to keep him occupied, even taking him on wheel chair rides around the floor, but each day that passes he grows more restless. Kevin is a 5 year old (6’2” tall) that wants to go back to his safe/familiar room, surrounded by his things. He also wants to go for hikes, to the store, the movie theater, and the library. Now he is hitting himself in the stomach and legs with such force that his legs and abdomen are completely covered with purple and black bruises. This is the only way that he can deal with this overwhelming stress. He is limping because he hurt his left leg during the self-injuring actions that now are happening continuously throughout the day. Yesterday he became increasingly anxious with each passing hour, pleading for his “Bellingham house”. He began to scream, hit his room door and window and security was called. Kevin hit his RN and one of the security guard during the incident when they attempted to keep him safe in his room. Throughout the day he was heavily medicated with no success. At night, he managed to escape from his room and run downstairs to the hospital lobby and then outside where he was wrestled by security until Bellingham police arrived.
After he was guided back to his room by the police he was finally medicated with an IM injection of B52 (Benadryl/Haldol/Lorazepam). He has been asleep since then, in a way I feel this is better for him to stop his mental anguish and physical self-inflicted pain.

This situation is a disgrace, my child deserves better from our system. He will severely injure hospital staff or will be gravely injured by medication administration and/or being restrained.

Please contact legislator:
Sharon Showmake at 360 7867854
Luann Van Werner at 360 7867980
Doug Erickson at 360 7867682

Plead for my son to be able to go to a respite bed where he can have physical activity outside of his room, He is unable to comprehend what or why this is happening to him. He needs a less restrictive environment where he can feel free and safe.
please feel free to share!

Marcia Alspaugh

Washington State Sub-minimum wage HB 1706

Here we go again discussing the issue of what the Special Certificates really are and what the subminimum wage really is.  HB 1706 is the bill that will be heard in the Washington State Labor and Workplace Standards Committee on February 11, 2019. (meeting cancelled due to weather)

For those people who are working for a special wage under a special certificate, eliminating this choice and option will essentially eliminate their job.  The Special Certificate allows a special wage (not be be confused with a sub-minimum hourly wage) for a specific job and specific amount of work.  It is not a wage based on an hourly rate.  This also means that when one hears stories of people making “pennies an hour” one is led to believe that people are slaving away with a whip over their head being exploited and coerced to work.

Yes, Seattle passed legislation this past year eliminating special certificates.  The legislation also eliminated the opportunity of ANYONE with a disability to work as an “apprentice, learner or messenger.”  This greatly discriminates against disabled in taking jobs in these categories.  This legislation was passed based on false information, lack of input from those directly affected and caused people to lose precious hours being integrated in their community.  Essentially – the opposite of what law,makers were told.

Currently, we have much more critical issues to address with regards to appropropriate supports for our vulnerable population which actually will affect the health and safety of many, many people in our state.  Now is not the time to address this issue which has had very little research or evaluation done in states (or cities) that have eliminated these special certificates.

Now is the time to sit back on this, evaluate and assess what has already occurred and how those affected have weathered the changes – it is not the time to create more havoc and crisis in our lives.

I fully support paying everyone a fair and just wage.  I also know that for our population with profound disabilities, their job alone is not the only income they have to support themselves and the great majority of people in this population work less than 11 hours a week (DDA Caseload)

As a fiber artist, I spend hours and hours on one project.  The price I sell a piece for is far less than “pennies an hour” for my work.  I would imagine that any artist will tell you the same thing.  Some jobs are not paid by the hour but by the product.

Special Certificates for Special Wages are not for jobs that are paid on an hourly wage but for jobs that are paid by the product.

#subminimumwage