Tucker, Mosquera, Garcia & Wimberly Bill to Study Wellness of Minorities with Disabilities Gains Final Legislative Approval

Legislation Assembly Democrats Cleopatra Tucker, Gabriela Mosquera, Carmelo G. Garcia and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to study the impact of disabilities on individuals in minority and underrepresented communities was approved by a vote of 65-12 in the Assembly on Monday, giving it final legislative approval.

The bill (A-3632) would require the commissioner of the Department of Health, in consultation with the commissioner of the Department of Human Services, to review the impact of disabilities on individuals in minority and underrepresented communities. The two department heads would be required to submit a report of their findings and recommendations to the governor and the legislature within a year of the legislation taking effect.

“The impact study this legislation calls for will enable the state to work toward justice and independence for minorities with disabilities,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “Several disheartening factors related to racial and ethnic background as well as socio-economic status combine to put members of this particular group at a disadvantage. They are often uninsured or underinsured and have less access to public services they require, like high-quality accessible transportation. Improving their overall quality of life starts with understanding the unique challenges they face and determining how we can best address them.”

“Overall, members of racial and ethnic minority groups have less access to job opportunities, education, housing, health care and other vital services, and unfortunately, studies show that those with disabilities face even greater challenges in these areas,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “In order to provide the best possible services and to alleviate limitations that burden minorities with disabilities, it is imperative that the state is proactive.”

“Many members of underrepresented groups who have disabilities face significant barriers to success simply because the programs and services available to other groups often are not available to them,” said Garcia (D-Hudson). “This legislation will enable our state to better identify what individuals in these communities need in order to progress and reach their full potential.”

“Minorities with disabilities are more likely to encounter greater challenges in terms of accessing education, employment, health care, transportation and a whole host of other resources that directly affect their quality of life,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “As the guardian of a family member with a developmental disability, this impact study is intended to eliminate inequality of opportunity and advance the civil rights of people like my niece.”

The bill, which in June received unanimous Senate approval, was conditionally vetoed by the governor last legislative session after passing in both houses. The original version of the bill would have established a 20-member commission that would study disparities in the treatment of minorities with disabilities.

As it returns to his desk, the measure reflects the governor’s request for the aforementioned commissioners to undertake a review of the impact of disabilities upon persons in minority and underrepresented communities.