Millett's Bill Making Alaska an "Employment First State" Signed Into Law (HB211)
HB211 part of national initiative to provide job and career opportunities to disabled Alaskans Thursday, May 29, 2014, Anchorage, Alaska - Representative Charisse Millett's bill that makes Alaska an Employment First State was signed into law by the Governor today. Governor Parnell signed House Bill 211, which directs state services for individuals with disabilities to be focused on the primary objective of finding gainful employment for those individuals. Though Alaska’s departments and agencies currently have similar policies in place, codifying Employment First into state statute assures uniformity across state services, and builds the foundation for partnering with private employers. “Every life has value, and we reaffirm that value through measures like this,” Millett said, “There is no ownership of this bill that anyone in the legislature can claim. This is an advocacy bill, this is your bill, and we thank you for moving our state forward.” Millett was addressing members of the Mental Health Trust Authority Summit, where House Bill 211 was signed. Employment First is a nationwide response by over twenty-five states that are grappling with high costs for disability services and dwindling revenues. Because it is data driven and based on collaboration across departments and agencies, Employment First has proven to be a cost saver to states who have implemented it. In addition, individuals with disabilities who are gainfully employed enjoy healthier, longer, more fulfilling lives. They also have a higher standard of living since they are accumulating assets. “What we have with Employment First is the epitome of a win-win,” Millett said, “You have the state delivering more efficient services at less cost, and people who need these services having better outcomes as a consequence. What’s more, employers are enthusiastic reporting about the positive experience having a worker with a disability has been for their organizations.” House Bill 211 passed the Alaska Legislature unanimously, and included the House Majority Women’s Caucus as co-prime sponsors.