© 2024 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Oregon Senate approves bill to phase out sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities

People with disabilities could no longer be paid less than minimum wage under a bill approved  Tuesday in the Oregon Senate.

Federal and state law allows certain employers to pay people with intellectual or physical impairments less than minimum wage. The idea was to help them find employment even if they weren’t considered as productive as a non-impaired person. Most of the organizations contract with government agencies for janitorial or grounds-keeping work.

Corvallis Democratic Senator Sara Gelser has been trying for years to correct what she calls an inequity. “Make no mistake," she said. "People with disabilities know what their paychecks are.”

Senate Bill 494 would phase out the sub-minimum wage for disabled workers by 2023. Gelser says the extra cost to their employers would generally be the responsibility of the government agencies they contract with. The Senate approved the bill 20-10 on a mostly party line vote. The measure now heads to the Oregon House.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”