Austin, TX – On Friday, Governor Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 753, a bill authored by Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston) and sponsored in the Texas House by State Representative John Raney (R-Bryan/College Station). SB 753 eliminates the predatory practice of paying subminimum wage to persons with intellectual and development disabilities (IDD) by a business who has a contract with the state’s Purchasing from People with Disabilities Program, administered by the Texas Workforce Commission. Currently, the lowest paid Texan with IDD earns just $0.02 an hour and, with the passage of this bill, meaningful employment outcomes for Texans with disabilities will improve drastically.
“Senate Bill 753 will prevent employers from utilizing loopholes to pay their employees with an intellectual disability just pennies on the dollar for their labor,” said Senator Huffman. “I was appalled that businesses were utilizing this loophole and am pleased that, as a result of SB 753 being signed into law, this will no longer be allowed in businesses that hold certain contracts with the State of Texas. This is a big win for the IDD community and I want to thank everyone who came to testify in support of the bill; we couldn’t have done it without you.”
A number of advocacy groups voiced their support for SB 753, including The Arc of Texas, an organization that advocates for the human rights and self-determination of Texans with IDD. “We know from personal experience and from stories of the individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who testified in favor of this bill that people with disabilities have immense value to contribute to the workforce when provided the appropriate opportunities and support. This bill does just that and improves meaningful, competitive employment outcomes for Texans with IDD,” said Kyle Piccola, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for The Arc of Texas. “SB 753 is narrowly focused and transitions the state’s Purchasing from People with Disabilities Program’s contractors away from paying IDD employees less than minimum wage.”
“All life is valuable. Texans with disabilities have a desire to work, earn a living, and contribute to their communities. Earning less than minimum wage is an unreasonable burden,” said Rep. Raney. “The state funds these contracted businesses at the minimum wage rate; paying employees less than that is unacceptable. I am proud to have had the opportunity to promote meaningful, competitive employment outcomes for Texans with disabilities.”
Representative Raney is serving his fifth term in the Texas House where he serves on the House Committee on Transportation and the House Committee on International Relations and Economic Development.