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Missouri House recognizes importance of sheltered workshops

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House recognized the importance of sheltered workshops to local communities as they unanimously perfected a bill aimed at promoting financial stability in the monthly funds received from the state.

“This is a very simple bill. It is a bill for sheltered workshops,” said bill sponsor Rep. Rory Rowland, whose son works at a sheltered workshop. “They have not had a raise for their fees since probably 2008, 2010. This would raise the fee from $19 to $21.”

HB 2644 would require that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education pay monthly, out of appropriated funds for that purpose, to each sheltered workshop a sum determined by specified criteria, but no less than $21 per day for each handicapped employee.

“The state has not exactly met their obligations financially over the years, in fact under the formula a lot of years we run short. We’ll get a check in May but not necessary a check in June because the funds have run out,” said Rep. David Wood, who has been involved in his local sheltered workshop for more than 30 years.  

“I believe it is already in the budget, already ready to go,” said Rowland. “It just a question of getting this up and in front of the body so that we can have it perfected and then printed.”

Representatives from both sides of the aisle and around the state praised the important role sheltered workshops play in communities, to families, and to the state.

“Everyone who works there is happy to have a job and is happy to be able to provide for themselves. They are an integral part of our community, the workforce of Franklin County,” said Justin Alferman.

In his county, the sheltered workshop plays an integral role in making a piece of a part that those on every single valve made by the largest employer in the City of Washington.

“I just want to point out how many sheltered workshops play an integral role in economic development of our state,” said Alferman.

The General Assembly often times takes up legislation they feel is important with the aim of making a difference and this is one of those bills, according to Rep. Nate Walker.

“For all of those who support the developmentally disabled and the sheltered workshops and the people they serve every day, this is important to do,” said Rep. Jack Bondon.

A standing ovation followed the perfection of the bill in a 136-0 vote.

“This means so much to my family, my son,” said Rowland.