SPRINGFIELD – “My Work, My Choice.” That was the message that members of the developmental disability community and their supporters brought to a Springfield Capitol news conference on Wednesday of this week. State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) and State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton) hosted the group in Springfield during the first week of Veto Session to highlight the important work that members of the DD community perform at jobs throughout the state, the economic and social impact that their work has, and to highlight the fight against a bill that would require minimum wage be paid to individuals that perform certain jobs.
The issue is complicated, but Rep. Severin says that a legislative effort currently underway in Springfield would potentially require companies that employ individuals with varying levels of developmental disabilities to perform tasks like button counting, putting together nuts and bolts, and other light tasks to pay the state’s minimum wage.
“The work for this community is not about a paycheck, it is about the dignity they find in the work and being able to get out of the house and find purpose in the world. Companies do a good thing when they partner with our community service providers to give these folks a job. If the state forces down a $15 minimum wage on these companies that help provide this service, then the companies will simply not be able to afford to pay the employees, and the programs that help support our friends in the DD community will shut down,” Severin said.
Severin says he sincerely hopes the public and members of the legislature will take the time to truly understand the issue. The 116th district Republican State Rep. said HB 793, if passed and signed into law, would put service providers out of work because they won’t be able to afford to pay minimum wage to workers with developmental, mental, and intellectual disabilities while also having to support those individuals with assistance using the restroom, eating, and taking their medication on time.”
“This is not about denying folks a living wage. These people live with their families most of the time. They need help with simple tasks, and they are not able to perform jobs that other people can do,” Severin said. “They are proud to earn their paycheck and to know they are contributing. Forcing an exponentially higher minimum wage to be paid to them will cause companies to end these partnerships because it will become completely unaffordable and unworkable.”
Rep. Severin and Rep. Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) joined advocates for “My Work. My Choice” to stop a bill that would require companies to pay significantly higher wages to developmentally and mentally disabled individuals working in certain community service programs. The advocates and supporters of “My Work. My Choice.” were on hand for a lobbying day on the first day of the 2023 Veto Session and joined the Republican representatives for a capitol news conference opposing HB 793.