Alysa Marquez, an intern with the Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities who was born with down syndrome and a congenital heart defect, worked at a day care in 2019 but wasn’t paid, while another worker was.
“I want to get paid so my mom doesn’t have to pay for everything. It makes me feel good when I can buy my own stuff,” Marquez told the Assembly Committee on Health and Human Services on Wednesday, through Catherine Nielsen, executive director of the Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, who read aloud Marquez’s testimony.
Marquez, 20, has her own checking account, savings account and an ABLE Account, a savings account for people with disabilities. She hopes to work full-time for the state of Nevada.
Assembly Bill 259, introduced by Assemblywoman Tracy Brown-May, D-Las Vegas, would require providers of jobs and day training services to pay at least the state minimum wage to those with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
If passed, a provider starting in 2028 must pay workers with intellectual disabilities no less than the state minimum wage, which in 2024 will be $12 per hour for all employees. Job providers can’t enter contracts for less than minimum wages after January 2025.
“This really is pivotal to the future of the provider organizations that are serving our community,” Brown-May said, adding that it has taken years for organizations to transition their business models away from sub-minimum wage to enhance job training opportunities.
There are five organizations in Nevada with active Labor Department certificates who serve a total of 148 people with disabilities, Brown-May said. Two of those organizations are in transition right now, which will be done over a two year period, Brown-May said.
Ashlee Cooper, manager of advocacy and government affairs for Opportunity Village, said in the past it paid sub-minimum wages but does not any longer. The organization, which provides services such as workforce development to people with disabilities in Southern Nevada, supports the legislation, she said.
“It provides a transition period for providers in the state,” Cooper told the Review-Journal. “We’re really excited to support it.”
Nine people submitted opinions in favor the bill on the Legislature’s website, with one opposed.
At the hearing Wednesday, all testimonies were in support with one neutral.
“Every single Nevadan deserves to have equitable wage,” said Paula Luna, operations manager at Battle Born Progress. “Individuals with disabilities should not be paid less than minimum wage.”