Governor Dunleavy signs bill repealing minimum wage exemption for Alaskans with disabilities – Mike Dunleavy


Today at Special Olympics Alaska, Governor Mike Dunleavy signed Senate Bill 185 to repeal an outdated law that allowed employers to pay Alaskans with physical or mental disabilities less than the minimum wage. The bill, sponsored by Senate President Peter Micciche, ensures that people with disabilities, the elderly or injured are not discriminated against in jobs where performance matches that of their counterparts. The bill signing ceremony brought together Senator Micciche and Sue Perles of Special Olympic Alaska.

“Alaska’s people with disabilities play a valuable role throughout our state. Competitive and unified employment provides individuals with a sense of pride, financial security, stable living conditions, access to better health management and increased independence. By signing Senate Bill 185, we can show our fellow Alaskans with disabilities that we support them and will continue to stand up for them in the workplace and beyond,” Governor Dunleavy said. “I would like to thank Sue Perles and her team at Special Olympics Alaska for hosting us here today and being part of this process. The work you do in this community is immeasurable and truly sets an exceptional example. I would also like to thank Senator Micciche for his work on this bill, and the Members of the Legislative Assembly for supporting this effort. I am proud to sign SB 185 and ensure great opportunities for Alaskans with disabilities.

In 2018, the State of Alaska repealed 8 AAC 15.120, a regulation that allowed employers to hire people for less than minimum wage. Senate Bill 185 repeals AS 23.10.070, the law that authorized regulation, ensuring that no disabled Alaskan will be paid less than their worth.

“Many Alaskans with disabilities are actively and productively employed in workplaces throughout Alaska,” said Senator Peter Micciche. “They are not second-class citizens or ‘beneficial employees.’ It is unfair that people are discriminated against where their performance most often equals or exceeds that of their non-disabled counterparts. It is demeaning to judge a person on the basis of their disability by paying them less than what they are worth. As Alaskans, we are better than that. Senate Bill 185 is a way for us to recognize the value of all Alaskans in the workplace and ensure people are paid fairly for their knowledge and job performance.

“Special Olympics Alaska is proud to welcome the signing of SB 185. This bill ensures that people with disabilities, including our Special Olympics athletes with developmental disabilities, will be paid at least minimum wage,” said Sue Perles, CEO of Special Olympics Alaska. “They are worth every penny and so much more!”

Senate Bill 185 also includes a narrowly defined exemption for nonprofit resident camps that provide staff with room and board, professional development and training, which must first be approved by the Commissioner of Alaska Labor and Workforce Development. The added language allows camps to have a predictable and consistent process for budgeting and planning staff salaries. This protection ensures that various Alaskan youth camps can continue operations while paying staff in accordance with national standards for resident camps across the country.


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