SB 0721 Establishes and revises several programs for disabled persons
LR Number:2918L.06T Fiscal Note:2918-06
Committee:Local Government and Economic Development
Last Action:06/29/00 - Signed by Governor Journal page:
Title:HCS SCS SB 721
Effective Date:August 28, 2000
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Current Bill Summary

HCS/SCS/SB 721 - This act revises programs for the handicapped to enhance access to telecommunications, to enable access to other assistive technologies and to provide for blind screening and education.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT PROGRAM - The act revises the program for telecommunications equipment for hearing and speech- impaired. The act adds definitions to expand the scope of the program to all telecommunications equipment, including voice and text.

The Missouri Assistive Technology Advisory Council, as the program administrator, will provide a statewide telecommunications equipment and distribution program for persons who cannot use traditional equipment due to disability.

The act specifies qualifications of the program administrator which include appropriate expertise and experience to provide oversight, customer service and accountability. Expenditures for program administration will not exceed 20% of total program expenses. The Missouri Assistive Technology Advisory Council may enter into contracts to deliver consumer support and administrative services relating to equipment distribution.

The Public Service Commission will annually request, as a separate budget item, appropriations from the deaf relay service and equipment distribution program fund to deliver dual-party relay service. The Missouri Assistive Technology Advisory Council will annually request, through a separate line item, an appropriation from the same fund to deliver the telecommunications equipment distribution program.

The Deaf Relay Service and Equipment Fund surcharge will not be increased for 2 years, subject to changes in federal requirements. After 2 years, the Council will annually adjust the Fund surcharge based upon the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations' recommendation. The act requires means testing to efficiently allocate services.

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY LOANS - The act requires the Missouri Assistive Technology Council to establish an Assistive Technology Loan Program.

The Council shall spend available moneys in four equal shares each quarter to ensure that the loan program will provide loans throughout the entire fiscal year. The act creates the "Assistive Technology Loan Revolving Fund", which shall be used to fund the Assistive Technology Loan Program.

The interest rates for loans shall be lower than comparable commercial lending rates and shall be established by the Council based on the borrower's ability to pay. Loans may be made with no interest. Loan repayment periods shall not exceed ten years. The Council shall promulgate rules to implement the program and file annual reports with the Governor and General Assembly. This portion of the act is contained in SB 935 (2000).

BLIND ASSISTANCE PROGRAM - The Blind Education, Screening and Treatment Program Fund is created. Applicants for registration of motor vehicles and applicants for a license may donate one dollar to the fund. Moneys in the fund may be used to provide eye screenings and treatment to prevent blindness.