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Sec. 23.15.010. Administration of vocational rehabilitation.

The commissioner shall administer the vocational rehabilitation program.

Sec. 23.15.020. Powers and duties of commissioner.

(a) The commissioner may cooperate with a federal agency, as provided and required by federal law for vocational rehabilitation.

(b) The commissioner shall comply with the federal laws and the conditions necessary to secure the full benefit of the federal vocational rehabilitation laws, and shall do all things necessary to entitle the state to receive the benefits of the federal laws.

(c) The commissioner may do all the things and adopt the regulations that are necessary to carry out the federal laws and the purposes of AS 23.15.010 - 23.15.210.

Sec. 23.15.030. Appointment of administrative officers.

The commissioner may appoint administrative officers and delegate to them the authority necessary to carry out AS 23.15.010 - 23.15.210.

Sec. 23.15.040. Division of vocational rehabilitation established.

The division of vocational rehabilitation is established under the commissioner to carry out AS 23.15.010 - 23.15.210.

Sec. 23.15.050. Director of vocational rehabilitation.

The commissioner shall appoint a director of the division of vocational rehabilitation. The director has the administrative authority delegated by the commissioner and necessary to carry out AS 23.15.010 - 23.15.210 and the regulations and policies adopted by the commissioner.

Sec. 23.15.060. Agreements under Social Security Act.

(a) The commissioner may enter into necessary agreements on behalf of the state with the Secretary of Health and Human Services to carry out the provisions of the federal Social Security Act, as amended, and as it is subsequently amended, relating to the making of determinations of disability under Title II and Title XVI of that Act.

(b) The Department of Revenue shall act as the custodian of funds paid by the federal government to the state, shall comply with agreements entered into under the Social Security Act, and shall disburse the funds in accordance with instructions from the director of the division of vocational rehabilitation.

Sec. 23.15.070. Personnel policies [Repealed, Sec. 84 ch 58 SLA 1999].

Repealed or Renumbered

Sec. 23.15.080. Eligibility for vocational rehabilitation service.

(a) Vocational rehabilitation service shall be provided directly or through a public or private instrumentality to an individual with a disability who

(1) is a resident of the state at the time of application for the service and whose vocational rehabilitation the agency determines after full investigation can be satisfactorily achieved; or

(2) is eligible for the service under an agreement with another state or with the federal government.

(b) In determining the types and extent of vocational rehabilitation services to be provided to an individual with a disability, the agency shall take into consideration any similar benefits that may be available to the individual under other programs. However, the agency may not take other benefits into consideration when doing so would significantly delay the provision of needed services to the individual with a disability. The agency need not take other benefits into consideration when they are for

(1) diagnostic and related services, including transportation and subsistence in connection with those services;

(2) counseling, guidance, and referral;

(3) training, including personal and vocational adjustment training, and necessary training materials;

(4) services to members of families of individuals with disabilities;

(5) job placement; and

(6) services necessary to assist individuals with disabilities to maintain suitable employment.

Sec. 23.15.090. Priority as to eligibility.

If vocational rehabilitation service cannot be provided for all eligible individuals with disabilities who apply, the agency shall provide by regulation for determining the order to be followed in selecting those to whom the services will be provided.

Sec. 23.15.100. Powers and duties; vending facilities.

(a) In carrying out AS 23.15.010 - 23.15.210, the agency shall

(1) take the action it considers necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of AS 23.15.010 - 23.15.210 and adopt regulations in conformity with these purposes;

(2) determine the eligibility of applicants for vocational rehabilitation service;

(3) submit to the governor annual reports of activities and expenditures and, before each regular session of the legislature, estimates of sums required for carrying out AS 23.15.010 - 23.15.210 and estimates of the amounts to be made available for this purpose from all sources;

(4) cooperate with public and private departments, agencies, and institutions in providing for the vocational rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities, studying the problems involved in providing this rehabilitation, and establishing, developing, and providing, in conformity with the purposes of AS 23.15.010 - 23.15.210, the programs, facilities, and services that may be necessary or desirable;

(5) survey the potential for providing vending facilities on public property and, when feasible, establish vending facilities operated by blind persons and persons with severe disabilities on public property;

(6) license blind persons and persons with severe disabilities in accordance with AS 23.15.133 for the operation of vending facilities on public property, with blind persons having first priority for operation of the vending facilities;

(7) provide the training and supervision necessary to enable blind persons and persons with severe disabilities to operate vending facilities;

(8) provide the equipment and initial stock necessary to enable blind persons and persons with severe disabilities to operate vending facilities.

(b) In carrying out AS 23.15.010 - 23.15.210, the agency may

(1) enter into agreements with other states to provide for the vocational rehabilitation of residents of the states concerned;

(2) establish and operate rehabilitation facilities and workshops and make grants to public and other nonprofit organizations for these purposes;

(3) supervise the operation of vending stands and other small businesses established under AS 23.15.010 - 23.15.210 to be conducted by individuals with severe disabilities;

(4) make studies, investigations, demonstrations, and reports, and provide training and instruction, including the establishment and maintenance of the research fellowships and traineeships with the stipends and allowances that are considered necessary, in matters relating to vocational rehabilitation; and

(5) adopt regulations necessary for carrying out the provisions of AS 23.15.010 - 23.15.210.

Sec. 23.15.110. Extension of services outside state.

Vocational rehabilitation service may be extended to the continental United States to all individuals eligible under AS 23.15.010 - 23.15.210. The director may place professional or clerical personnel or both inside the continental United States to carry out the purposes of AS 23.15.010 - 23.15.210.

Sec. 23.15.120. Cooperation with federal government.

(a) The agency shall cooperate with the federal government in carrying out the purposes of federal laws pertaining to vocational rehabilitation, including the licensing of blind persons to operate vending stands on federal property, and may adopt the methods of administration that are found by the federal government to be necessary for the proper and efficient operation of agreements or plans for vocational rehabilitation. The agency may comply with the conditions that are necessary to obtain the full benefits of the federal laws for the state and its residents.

(b) Upon designation by the governor, the agency may perform functions and services for the federal government relating to individuals under a physical or mental disability, in addition to those provided in (a) of this section.

Sec. 23.15.125. Assistive technology loan guarantee and interest subsidy program.

(a) An assistive technology loan guarantee fund is established in the agency. The fund consists of money appropriated to it. The agency may solicit and accept available public and private money for distribution from the fund.

(b) Subject to (c) and (d) of this section, the agency may use money in the fund established under this section to guarantee 90 percent of the principal amount of a loan or to subsidize the interest rate of a loan guaranteed by the agency for appropriate assistive technology that is best suited for enabling a person with a disability to

(1) obtain or maintain employment; or

(2) live more independently.

(c) The agency may guarantee a loan or subsidize the interest rate of a loan guaranteed under this section if

(1) the loan is made to a person with a disability or a member of the person's family to obtain assistive technology for the person with a disability within the limitations of (b) of this section;

(2) the loan is originated and serviced by a state or federally chartered financial institution located in the state;

(3) before a loan guarantee or subsidy is requested from a lending institution, the agency determines that the person requesting the loan guarantee or subsidy is not able to obtain the needed assistive technology from a less costly source;

(4) the lending institution determines that the person or the family of a child reasonably can be expected to repay the loan given their expected income or other resources; and

(5) for a loan to modify a vehicle to provide transportation for a person with a disability, the applicant has been steadily employed for the 90 days immediately preceding the date of the loan application.

(d) The director shall establish an assistive technology loan committee within the agency. The committee shall consist of the director, or the director's designee, a representative of a financial institution who is experienced with consumer loans, and at least one but not more than three persons with disabilities. The committee shall

(1) establish guidelines for providing loans under this section, including guidelines relating to the maximum amounts and duration of loans and guidelines to ensure that persons with disabilities who live in rural or remote areas of the state have adequate access to loans under this section;

(2) annually establish the percentage of money in the fund that may be used for subsidizing the interest rates on loans guaranteed under this section; and

(3) make reports and recommendations to the legislature on the operation of the loan program.

(e) In this section,

(1) "assistive technology" means durable equipment, adaptive aids, and assistive devices;

(2) "person with a disability" means an individual having a physical or mental disability.

Sec. 23.15.130. Vocational rehabilitation small business enterprise revolving fund.

(a) There is created in the state treasury a revolving fund designated as the vocational rehabilitation small business enterprise revolving fund. The fund shall be administered by the director.

(b) Receipts from the net proceeds of vending facilities on public property, other than vending facilities operated by a licensee, shall be paid into the fund.

(c) The commissioner of administration shall separately account for receipts under (b) of this section that are paid into the vocational rehabilitation small business enterprise revolving fund. The annual estimated receipts of the fund may be used by the legislature to make appropriations to the department to aid licensees in operating vending machine facilities.

(d) In this section "net proceeds" means the gross receipts from operating a vending facility less the costs of operation and a fair return to the operator, to be determined by the agency.

Sec. 23.15.132. Vending facilities.

(a) A vending facility may not be established on public property that is under the jurisdiction of the state except as authorized by the commissioner.

(b) A vending facility authorized by the commissioner shall be selected and located after consulting with the persons responsible for the maintenance and operation of the property to be served by the vending facility. A contract for the operation of the vending facility by a licensee shall be executed by the agency and must contain provisions ensuring that the licensee shall charge reasonable prices and that the vending facility shall provide high quality merchandise.

Sec. 23.15.133. Vendors' licenses.

(a) The agency shall issue a license for the operation of a vending facility on public property to a blind person or a person with a severe disability who is a resident of the state at the time of application and who qualifies for a license under

(1) 20 U.S.C. 107 - 107f (Randolph-Sheppard Act); or

(2) regulations adopted by the agency providing for licensing of blind persons or persons with severe disabilities.

(b) A license issued under this section does not expire. However, a license may be revoked if the agency finds that the licensee is not operating the facility in accordance with regulations adopted by the agency.

Sec. 23.15.134. Active participation by licensees with severe disabilities.

The agency shall adopt regulations that ensure the opportunity for active participation by a licensee with severe disabilities in the administration of vending facilities operated by licensees with severe disabilities. The opportunity for active participation provided under this section must be at least as extensive as the opportunity for active participation provided for a blind licensee under AS 23.15.135 .

Sec. 23.15.135. Committee of blind vendors.

(a) The Committee of Blind Vendors consisting of all blind licensees is established. The agency shall conduct a biennial election of a president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer of the committee and may conduct elections to fill vacancies in office at any time.

(b) The commissioner shall assure active participation by the Committee of Blind Vendors in administrative, policy, and program development decisions concerning vending facilities operated by blind licensees. The agency shall, with active participation by the Committee of Blind Vendors,

(1) adopt regulations providing for the licensing of blind persons for the operation of vending facilities on public property;

(2) consider and respond to grievances of blind licensees;

(3) develop and administer a statewide system for the transfer and promotion of blind licensees;

(4) develop training and retraining programs for blind licensees and for blind persons interested in obtaining a license to operate a vending facility;

(5) organize meetings and conferences for blind licensees;

(6) adopt regulations necessary to assure that vending facilities operated by blind licensees are administered by the agency in a substantially equivalent manner whether a vending facility is located on state or federal property;

(7) designate public property as appropriate for the location of a vending facility operated by a blind licensee.

(c) To ensure the opportunity for active participation in decisions that affect the administration of vending facilities operated by blind licensees the agency shall, before each meeting of the Committee of Blind Vendors, provide the committee with written information on matters to be considered. The agency shall provide the committee with reasons in writing for decisions and actions of the agency that do not conform to recommendations submitted by the committee.

Sec. 23.15.136. Group insurance for certain licensees.

The agency shall purchase group insurance coverage under AS 39.30.090 for licensees holding current operating agreements. The employer share of the insurance premium shall be paid from the vocational rehabilitation small business enterprise revolving fund.

Sec. 23.15.140. Vocational Rehabilitation Fund. [Repealed, Sec. 2 ch 23 SLA 1968].

Repealed or Renumbered

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