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Bill to recognize businesses that support disabled workers clears first hurdle

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A bill that would create a program recognizing businesses that hire or support disabled workers cleared its first Senate committee stop Tuesday by a unanimous vote.

SB 388 directs the Department of Economic Opportunity to work with CareerSource Florida to develop the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program. The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee, chaired by the bill’s sponsor, Venice Republican state Sen. Nancy Detert, voted 6-0 in favor of the bill.

“The Florida Unique Abilities Partner designation will indicate that a company recognizes the important role people with unique abilities can have in our workforce,” said Senate President Andy Gardiner.

“We have many Florida companies that are already working diligently to ensure people with unique abilities are given the chance to succeed in meaningful careers. By recognizing these great companies as Florida Unique Abilities Partner organizations, we can highlight their important efforts. Like other business designations, consumers can then use this information to guide their purchasing choices,” said Gardiner.

If given final approval, businesses that employ disabled workers, contribute to disability organizations or establish a program that helps disabled individuals live independently could apply for the designation and be added to a state registry that could be used for VISIT Florida marketing and state job boards such as the Employ Florida Marketplace.

The bill would also require DEO to work with disability organizations to develop a logo for the program and maintain a website of all businesses granted the designation broken down by county. It carries a $200,000 appropriation, with $100,000 of that money as recurring funds.

SB 388 now moves to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development, chaired by Clearwater Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala. The 2015 versions of the bill, SB 1246 and HB 7022, made it through all committee stops with no resistance but eventually died due to the early Sine Die.

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Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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