Pictured L-R: Bradley County Mayor Gary Davis; Rep. Kevin Brooks; Diana Jackson, CEO of Life Bridges; Eddie Cartwright, Life Bridges board member; Bob McIntyre, Life Bridges board member; and Comm. Terry Caywood, Life Bridges staff
Rep. Kevin Brooks said he passed legislation this year in Tennessee’s House of Representatives opening up new opportunities for people with disabilities by changing a state law that already provides employment possibilities on government contracts.
The changes in the law will specifically impact people supported by Cleveland-based Life Bridges Inc., a community organization providing a full array of residential and day services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Diana Jackson, executive director of Life Bridges Inc., said that this change in the law is a huge step forward for Tennessee. “We are sincerely thankful to Rep. Brooks for not only sponsoring the legislation but ensuring its passage.
“This change in the law is designed to employ more people with disabilities in a broader range of government contracts by expanding the law to allow for profit companies to partner with nonprofit organizations thereby opening up new and more varied employment opportunities,” she added.
The new law incentivizes vendors holding government contracts to employ people with disabilities in settings that allow for more interaction with their non-disabled colleagues. These government contracts are approved by state and local procurement offices.
A March 14 release posted on the U.S. Census Bureau’s website said that, “Individuals with disabilities were less likely to be employed than individuals without disabilities, and those who were employed typically held jobs with lower earnings and also earned less than their colleagues with no disability.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the statistics show that between 2008 and 2010, individuals without disabilities were about three times more likely to be employed than individuals with disabilities. Overall, individuals with disabilities accounted for 9.4 million, or 6.0 percent, of the 155.9 million civilian labor force.