Maryland Governor Signs Bills for ABLE Program and Disability Education for Police Officers

Maryland Governor Hogan signed two bills that bring to the forefront important issues regarding Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts and the training of police officers on disability education that will be implemented and guided by the Maryland Department of Disabilities (DOD).  Senate Bill 761/House Bill 1105 establish a task force to develop a plan for implementing a Maryland ABLE program to ensure the creation of an ABLE account to help people save for disability-related expenses as indicated in the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE).  This act permits states to establish a new type of tax-advantaged savings program (ABLE program) whereby eligible individuals with disabilities and their families can open an account (ABLE account) to build savings to pay for qualified disability expenses, such as medical and dental care, education, housing, transportation, obtaining and employment, assistive technology and community based supports.

The Task Force will determine: 

  • What the structure of the program should be;
  • Whether the program should be State-sponsored or privately run;
  • Whether it should be operated by the College Savings Plans of Maryland or another State agency; 
  • Staffing and funding needs of the program;
  • Potential sources of start-up funding; 
  • Membership and duties of the board that will oversee the program; and,
  • State tax benefits or treatment of contributions to and withdrawals from ABLE accounts.  

 The second issue is to ensure people with disabilities play a central role in training law enforcement and other sectors as indicated by Senate Bill 853, the Saylor Alliance.  This bill is named after Ethan Saylor, a young man with Down Syndrome who died in a movie theatre in the custody of law enforcement. 

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