CSG Webinar Explores Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Strategies

By Shawntaye Hopkins

The Council of State Governments’ recent Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work webinar explored policies that help people in the workforce following disability or injury incurred on or off the job. The webinar also reviewed ways in which policymakers can use the CSG Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Toolkit as a resource.

Continue reading “CSG Webinar Explores Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Strategies”

States Launch Pilot Projects to Retain Workers with Disabilities

By Sydney Geiger

Eight states have launched projects aiming to provide opportunities for people who experience mid-career disabilities to remain in and return to the workforce. After a competitive selection process, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy in partnership with DOL’s Employment and Training Administration and the Social Security Administration awarded eight states with funding for RETAIN Demonstration Projects.

Continue reading “States Launch Pilot Projects to Retain Workers with Disabilities”

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

By Sydney Geiger

Oct. 1 marks the start of the National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy began celebrating NDEAM in 1945. People with disabilities continually face unemployment rates much higher than the national average. Each year, October is designated to highlight the importance of developing an inclusive workforce of individuals with a variety of abilities.

Continue reading “National Disability Employment Awareness Month”

Kentucky Work Matters Task Force Meeting Resources

By Trevor Freeman

On September 27th, 2017, the Kentucky Work Matters Task Force will convene once again to discuss disability employment policies.  This task force was convened by Governor Matt Bevin in June of 2017.  The mission of the Kentucky Work Matters Task Force is “to address barriers to employment and promote workforce inclusion among people with disabilities, foster children, disabled veterans, individuals with substance abuse issues and individuals with criminal records”.  This committee is working to develop recommendations for disability employment policies and will provide a report to Governor Bevin by the end of 2017.  The Kentucky Work Matters Task Force is part of CSG’s continued disability employment policy initiative and an outgrowth of the National Task Force on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities.

Continue reading “Kentucky Work Matters Task Force Meeting Resources”

Veterans as Farmers

By Nancy Vickers

As Americans remember the events and veterans of December 7, 1941 today, another organization seeks to help our service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. A recent USA Today article highlighted the work of the Farmer-Veteran Coalition. The national coalition “seeks to help our returning veterans find employment, training and places to heal on America’s farms.”

Here is legislation reviewed by CSG’s Committee on Suggested State Legislation about agricultural operations and sustainable agriculture; a program to help disabled farmers; and a master farmer program to help farmers reduce the environmental impact of their farming operations.

The 2012 Suggested State Legislation volume will include a draft based on Kentucky HB 486, enacted into law in 2010. This legislation enables agricultural operations to incorporate sustainable agricultural practices without necessarily being deemed a nuisance by local ordinances or zoning regulations. The Act requires any administrative regulation promulgated by any agency that establishes standards for harvesting or producing agricultural crops in a sustainable manner be based on practices outlined in the Act. Those are science-based practices that are supported by research and the use of technology, demonstrated to lead to broad outcomes-based performance improvements that meet the needs of the present, and that improve the ability of future generations to meet their needs while advancing progress toward environmental, social, and economic goals and the well-being of agricultural producers and rural communities.

Illinois Public Act 094-216, enacted in 2005, directs the state department of agriculture, in cooperation with the state university extension service, to contract with a non-profit provider to establish and administer a program to help disabled farmers. The 2007 SSL draft is based on the Illinois Act.

Louisiana Act 145 of 2003 establishes a program that is designed to help agricultural producers voluntarily reduce the impact their operations have on the environment. The program would be a cooperative effort between the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Conservation Service, the state farm bureau, state university, the state departments of agriculture and natural resources, and soil and water conservation districts. It involves classroom instruction, attendance at model farm field days and development and implementation of farm specific conservation plans. Participating farmers who complete the curriculum are certified as Master Farmers and must submit soil and water conservation plans for their farms to meet certain standards as established by the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Conservation Service, the state department of agriculture and the affected soil and water conservation district. Any farmer who has received certification will be presumed to be in compliance with the state soil and water quality requirements as long as their certification is maintained in accordance with best management practices. The Louisiana Act is the basis for a 2005 SSL draft.  

Michigan also established a related program, Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program. MAEAP is an innovative, proactive program that “helps farms of all sizes and all commodities voluntarily prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks.”