(TRENTON) –Members of racial or ethnic minorities have less access to employment opportunities, education, health care and other public services that are crucial toward quality of life. The inability to receive the same services that are afforded to a majority of residents is exacerbated when members of minority groups have disabilities. To represent and enhance equality in these communities, Assembly Democrats Cleopatra Tucker (D-Essex), Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), and Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic) sponsor legislation, passed by the full Assembly recently 76-0, to establish a Disparity in Treatment of Persons with Disabilities in Underrepresented Communities Commission (The Commission).
“Minorites with disabilities make up a vast portion of the vulnerable population in New Jersey,” said Tucker. “Many struggle to receive access to health services and are often not offered the same opportunities. We must ensure minorities with disabilities are given access to the services they need.”
The bill (A-209) would establish The Commission and study the unique concerns of racial or ethnic minorities with disabilities, and how their disability is exacerbated due to being a minority. Some of the disparities that would be studied by The Commission would include educational and employment opportunities, health care, and other services provided by both the public and private sectors.
“By forming The Commission and studying the disparities in the availability of services offered to racial or ethnic minorities, we will be able to provide ideas on how to alleviate the limitations they face on a daily basis,” said Vainieri Huttle.
The Commission would be comprised of twenty members. Ten would be considered public members and would be appointed by the Governor, the Senate President, and the Assembly Speaker. The remaining ten members would consist of one representative each from the Department of Community Affairs, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Health, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Law and Public Safety, the Department of Education, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Banking and Insurance, and from the Juvenile Justice Commission.
“We need a range of officials on The Commission from different backgrounds,” said Wimberly. “Those who are a racial or ethnic minority with a disability face every day challenges and lack of access to certain services. This bill would allow The Commission to study these disparities and make proposals for administrative remedies that will diminish these issues.”
The measure now heads to the Senate.