1997 Regular Session
To: Public Health and Welfare; Appropriations
By: Senator(s) Bean
Senate Bill 2377
(As Sent to Governor)
AN ACT TO ESTABLISH AN OFFICE ON THE DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING WITHIN THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION SERVICES; TO PRESCRIBE ITS DUTIES, RESPONSIBILITIES AND ITS ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE; TO AMEND SECTION 37-33-157, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY THERETO; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) There is hereby established an Office on Deaf and Hard of Hearing within the State Department of Rehabilitation Services, hereinafter referred to as "ODHH."
(2) The ODHH shall have the following responsibilities:
(a) To work to make interpreter services available to people who are deaf or hard of hearing;
(b) To work to increase the number of qualified interpreters in the state and to increase the certification level of interpreters in the state;
(c) To maintain a registry of available and qualified interpreters in the state;
(d) To provide community outreach, training and education to the public and private sectors, including business, governmental entities, schools and political subdivisions, on issues related to the deaf and hard of hearing;
(e) To serve as a collection point and clearinghouse for information and data related to deafness, including program and service options available for adults and children who are deaf and hard of hearing;
(f) To encourage, participate in and conduct studies and research on issues related to the deaf and hard of hearing;
(g) To provide advice and information to the Mississippi Legislature;
(h) To work with public and private entities, including community and four-year colleges and universities, to accomplish the responsibilities of the ODHH;
(i) To discharge such other duties, responsibilities and powers as are necessary to implement the provisions of this section.
(3) A service center for ODHH shall be established and operated according to policies established by the ODHH and approved by the State Board of Rehabilitation Services.
(4) The ODHH shall be staffed by an office director, an administrative assistant and full-time and part-time interpreters. These staff members shall be employees of the State Department of Rehabilitation Services. The ODHH shall also have the power to contract with free lance interpreters as needed.
(5) The ODHH shall establish and utilize an advisory council made up of a majority of members who are deaf or hard of hearing. The first members of the ODHH Advisory Council shall be appointed for a one-year term; subsequent appointments or reappointments shall be made for two-year terms.
(6) The ODHH is authorized to apply for and accept funds from any source and to receive contributions, gifts or any other funds from any private or public source.
(7) The ODHH shall be funded subject to appropriation by the Legislature and in operation by July 1, 1998.
SECTION 2. Section 37-33-157, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-33-157. The Department of Rehabilitation Services shall provide the rehabilitation services authorized by law and by the rules, regulations and policies of the board to every individual determined to be eligible therefor, and in carrying out the purposes of this chapter the department is authorized, when consistent with the rules, regulations and policies of the State Board of Rehabilitation Services:
(a) To expend funds received either by appropriation or directly from federal or private sources;
(b) To cooperate with other departments, agencies and institutions, both public and private, in providing the services authorized by this chapter to disabled individuals, in studying the problems involved therein, and in establishing, developing and providing in conformity with the purposes of this chapter, such programs, facilities and services as may be necessary or desirable;
(c) To enter into reciprocal agreements with other states to provide for the services authorized by this chapter to residents of the states concerned;
(d) To conduct research and compile statistics relating to the provision of services to or the need of services by disabled individuals;
(e) To enter into contractual arrangements with the federal government and with other authorized public agencies or persons for performance of services related to rehabilitation;
(f) To contract with schools, hospitals and other agencies, and with doctors, optometrists, nurses, technicians and other persons, for training, physical restoration, transportation and other rehabilitation services;
(g) To take such action as may be necessary to enable the department to apply for, accept and receive for the state and its residents the full benefits available under the federal Vocational Rehabilitation Act, and any amendments thereto, and under any other federal legislation or program having as its purpose the providing of, improvement or extension of, vocational rehabilitation services.
(h) To establish an Office on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to provide services and activities authorized under Senate Bill No. 2377, 1997 Regular Session.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.