PA 17-202—sSB 796

Public Health Committee


SUMMARY: This act generally updates terminology to use “person first” language in various statutes relating to older adults and individuals with disabilities. Among other things, it substitutes the terms “person with disabilities” for “handicapped person,” “deaf and hard of hearing” for “hearing impaired,” and “older person” for “elderly person.” Additionally, the act:

1. removes the prohibition on certain older persons, disabled veterans, and individuals with disabilities working extended hours in manufacturing, mechanical, and mercantile establishments; restaurants; and various other settings ( 81-83);

2. modifies the conditions under which the Department of Public Health (DPH) may purchase certain medical equipment for children with disabilities without going through the state's normal purchasing procedures ( 73);

3. adds a statutory definition for “supervision” pertaining to licensed occupational therapists who oversee the work of occupational therapy assistants ( 75);

4. designates the entire month of October as “Disability Employment Awareness Month,” instead of the first week as “National Employ the Handicapped Week” ( 85);

5. renames the “Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB)” the “Advisory Board for Persons Who are Blind or Visually Impaired” ( 22 & 23);

6. replaces references to BESB with the Department of Rehabilitative Services (DORS) in various statutes, including those pertaining to retirement credits for state employees who are blind or visually impaired ( 22, 24 & 25); and

7. removes an obsolete provision that transferred certain funds and responsibilities between the Social Services and Aging departments in 2013 when the Aging Department was re-established ( 54).

The act also makes technical and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017


The act removes the prohibition on an employee working extended hours without consenting to do so in manufacturing, mechanical, and mercantile establishments; restaurants; and various other settings if the employee is:

1. age 66 or older,

2. designated by a medical or government authority as handicapped, or

3. a disabled veteran.

Prior law limited the hours that the above employees could work, as follows:

1. for manufacturing or mechanical establishments, no more than nine hours per day or 48 hours per week;

2. for mercantile establishments, no more than eight hours per day, six days per week, or 48 hours per week; and

3. for restaurants, recreational establishments, and various other settings, no more than 10 hours per day, six days per week, or 48 hours per week.

Under prior law, handicapped persons and disabled veterans who consented to working hours that exceeded these limits had to provide written certification from a licensed physician or advanced practice registered nurse that doing so would not injure their health.

The act retains the extended work hour limits for individuals under age 18 who are not enrolled in and graduated from a secondary education institution (e.g., high school). Existing law, unchanged by the act, generally applies stricter limits to individuals under age 18 who are enrolled in such an institution.


Prior law allowed DPH to purchase, within available appropriations, wheelchairs and placement equipment for children with disabilities without going through the Department of Administrative Services' normal purchasing procedures, provided (1) the cost of an individual item did not exceed $6,500 and (2) purchases were made on the open market and, when possible, through competitive bidding.

The act instead allows DPH, or the department's contractor, to purchase medically necessary and appropriate durable medical equipment and other DPH-approved goods and services for children with disabilities. The goods and services must be identical to those covered under the state's Medicaid and HUSKY programs, and payment cannot exceed the current Medicaid payment rate for these goods and services.


By law, an occupational therapy assistant must be licensed to assist in the practice of occupational therapy under a licensed occupational therapist's supervision or consultation. The act defines “supervision” as oversight or participation by a licensed occupational therapist in an occupational therapy assistant's work. It includes:

1. continuous availability of direct communication between the occupational therapist and occupational therapy assistant;

2. availability of a licensed occupational therapist on a regularly scheduled basis to review the occupational therapy assistant's practice and support his or her service; and

3. a predetermined plan for emergencies, including designating an alternate licensed occupational therapist in the absence of the regular one.


Related Acts

PA 17-146 ( 8 & 12) contain the same provisions on the supervision of occupational therapy assistants and DPH medical equipment purchases for children with disabilities, respectively.

PA 17-204 ( 2) contains a similar provision designating the entire month of October as “Disability Employment Awareness Month.”