HCS SCS SB 721 -- TELECOMMUNICATIONS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
This bill requires the Missouri Assistive Technology Advisory Council to establish an assistive technology loan program to be funded from the Assistive Technology Revolving Fund that is created in the bill. The fund will receive any appropriation and grant moneys received under the federal Assistive Technology Act of 1998 or any applicable source.
The bill revises the Missouri Public Service Commission's program for telecommunications equipment for hearing- and speech-impaired persons. Definitions are added to expand the scope of the program to all telecommunications equipment, including voice and text.
The Missouri Assistive Technology Advisory Council, instead of the Public Service Commission, will administer a statewide telecommunications equipment and distribution program for persons who cannot use traditional equipment due to disability.
The bill specifies the duties of the program administrator which include customer service and cost-effective procurement of adaptive equipment. Expenditures for program administration may not exceed 20% of total program expenses. The Missouri Assistive Technology Advisory Council is authorized to make rules to implement and administer the program and to 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 equipment distribution program.
The Deaf Relay Service and Equipment Fund surcharge will not be increased for 2 years, subject to changes in federal requirements. On August 28, 2000, the Department of Labor will make its initial recommendation to the Public Service Commission regarding the amount of the surcharge necessary for funding the equipment distribution program and will annually make such a recommendation to the commission.
The Blindness Education, Screening and Treatment Program Fund is created and financed by a voluntary $1 contribution from applicants applying for or renewing their motor vehicle registration or driver's license. The Department of Health is required to develop a Blindness Education, Screening and Treatment Program to provide certain services for persons who do not have adequate health benefit coverage, subject to availability of funds. The department must make rules governing program specifications and eligibility requirements for the program.
The bill also repeals a redundant section of law relating to application for a driver's license.