ROCKVILLE, Md., July 31, 2012—Montgomery County Council today unanimously approved ballot language for a proposed County Charter Amendment that will be on the November ballot that, if approved by voters, would enable establishment of a program within the County merit system to recruit, select and hire directly into certain County jobs persons with significant physical or cognitive disabilities that substantially limit one or more major life activities.
Councilmember Phil Andrews, the chief sponsor of the ballot amendment, in a memo to his fellow Councilmembers earlier this year, noted that the County has already taken a number of important steps to expand opportunities for people with disabilities, including the 2010 legislation the Council approved to provide a hiring preference to veterans and people with disabilities who are applying for an initial position in County Government and are among the highest rated group of applicants. The County also established a Customized Employment Public Intern Project in its Health and Human Services Department that provides opportunities for people with significant cognitive and developmental disabilities. However, those positions must be limited to two years or less.
In addition, under the merit system of the County Government as currently defined in the County Charter, the County cannot hire qualified people with significant disabilities directly into certain positions—unlike the Federal Government under its Schedule A (Special Hiring Authority).
“The unemployment rate for people with disabilities far exceeds the general unemployment rate,” said Councilmember Andrews. “If employed, many people with severe disabilities could help support themselves financially. This would help them directly, and would help taxpayers too by reducing dependence on government services. In order for the County to significantly expand opportunities to bring qualified people with severe disabilities directly into County Government jobs, the County’s Charter (Constitution) must be amended to provide that authority. The Council’s vote today to place the measure on the November ballot is a crucial step forward to advancing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.”
The Charter Amendment is strongly supported by County Executive Isiah Leggett and the County’s Commission on People with Disabilities.
The issue will appear on November ballots as follows:
Question A Charter amendment by act of County Council Merit System –
Hiring Individuals with Disabilities
Amend Section 401 of the County Charter to allow the County to operate a program within the merit system to recruit and select qualified individuals with severe physical or mental disabilities on a noncompetitive basis.
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