Ball proposal would give hiring preference to disabled

Howard County Council members Calvin Ball and Courtney Watson have prefiled legislation in advance of Monday’s council meeting, one bill aimed at helping find jobs for disabled veterans and the other providing resources to address bullying.

Ball’s bill will encourage the hiring of disabled veterans and other individuals with disabilities who apply to the county by establishing standards that create a hiring preference for qualified applicants.

Montgomery County enacted a similar preferential hiring program in 2010 and Baltimore City did the same earlier this year.

A 2007 survey found that 5,160 of 6,610 individuals with disabilities in Howard County were considered “not in a labor force."

“I firmly believe, and with the support from recent data, that this bill is a step in the right direction to help encourage the hiring of individuals with disabilities to county government and hopefully inspire other businesses within the county to do so as well. Of course, these individuals must first be qualified for the position so as to not discriminate against others who apply who are equally qualified,” Ball said in a statement.

Watson, a former Howard County school board member, has introduced legislation to encourage the Maryland General Assembly to make the issue of bullying, harassment and intimidation a priority in the upcoming legislative session in Annapolis.

Watson said in a statement she believes addressing the problem of bullying must be a shared responsibility among all of the agencies throughout the community that work with young people.

The number of bullying incidents reported across the public school systems in Maryland has increased from 2,992 in the 2008-09 school year to 4,678 in the 2010-11 school year, an increase of 177 percent, according to data from the Maryland State Department of Education.

Watson’s legislation asks the General Assembly to consider providing resources to establish a multidisciplinary team in each jurisdiction consisting of school personnel, representatives from law enforcement, the state’s attorney and the appropriate mental health agency.

This team would be charged with helping to bolster the bullying prevention efforts of the school system and to develop standard protocols for the investigation of bullying incidents, care of those victimized, and education and remediation for young people participating in bullying.

“Bullying is a community problem and eradicating it will only be successful if it is a community effort, not simply one the school system is left to deal with independently,” Watson said in a statement.

A public hearing on both proposals is scheduled for Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Banneker Room of the George Howard Building in Ellicott City.


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