Sponsored by every member of the Montgomery County Council, Councilman Philip M. Andrews introduced legislation Tuesday for the county to recruit and hire qualified individuals with severe physical and mental disabilities on a noncompetitive basis.
The bill follows the passage of ballot Question A, in which 80 percent of voters agreed the county’s charter should be amended to allow the program to be proposed.
Andrews said the county’s Commission on People with Disabilities has long advocated the measure.
The legislation will require the county executive to adopt regulations for the noncompetitive appointment of a qualified person with a severe developmental, physical, or psychological disability to a county merit position. The system will resemble the federal Schedule A.
For years, the county has had an internship program for people with disabilities, but no way to move those people into permanent, merit system positions. Andrews said his bill would allow the county to hire the qualified interns.
Among those who could benefit from the program are “wounded warriors,” veterans who come to Montgomery County by way of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Andrews said.
“We have a special obligation given that we are the hosts of that wonderful facility to be a model employer of people with disabilities,” he said.
When Andrews introduced the charter amendment that would become Question A, he citied statistics showing high unemployment and underemployment among those with disabilities.
Of the estimated 515,765 individuals in Montgomery County’s labor force, 15,402 employed individuals have a disability while 2,159 unemployed individuals have a disability, according to 2010 American Community Survey 3-year Estimates data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Of those not in the labor force, 11,488 have a disability, according to the data. The data included civilian noninstitutionalized persons ages 18 to 64 years.
A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6.