Analysis

Synopsis:

 Senate Bill 354 (SB 354) relates to executive reorganization. SB 354 enacts the Vocational Rehabilitation Act and creates the Vocational Rehabilitation Commission. SB 354 eliminates the Vocational Rehabilitation Division of the Public Education Department and creates the Vocational Rehabilitation Office. SB 354 provides powers and duties; transfer of functions, personnel, money, appropriations, records and other property.

Analysis:

 Senate Bill 354 (SB 354) relates to executive reorganization. SB 354 enacts the Vocational Rehabilitation Act and creates the Vocational Rehabilitation Commission. SB 354 eliminates the Vocational Rehabilitation Division of the Public Education Department and creates the Vocational Rehabilitation Office. SB 354 provides powers and duties; transfer of functions, personnel, money, appropriations, records and other property.

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
Sections 1 through 12 of this act may be cited as the Vocational Rehabilitation Act (Act). 

SECTION 2. DEFINITIONS as used in the Act.

SECTION 3. VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION COMMISSION CREATED.
A. The Vocational Rehabilitation Commission (Commission) is created. The Commission consists of six members appointed by the governor as specified.
B. Specifies when members shall be appointed and the terms of the first appointments and future four-year terms.
C. A majority of the members of the Commission constitutes a quorum for the transaction of business. The Commission shall elect a chair from its membership. 
D. Public members of the Commission are entitled to receive per diem and mileage as provided in the Per Diem and Mileage Act and shall receive no other compensation, perquisite or allowance. 

SECTION 4. VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION COMMISSION—POWERS AND DUTIES.
The Commission may:
(1) establish policies for state programs relating to vocational rehabilitation;
(2) cooperate and make agreements with public or private agencies to establish or maintain a vocational rehabilitation program; 
(3) enter into reciprocal agreements with other states to provide vocational rehabilitation; and (4) accept gifts or grants to be used for vocational rehabilitation. 
B. The Commission shall: 
(1) create a state plan for federal aid funds relating to vocational rehabilitation; 
(2) establish standards to which agencies shall conform in receiving federal aid funds; 
(3) enter into an agreement with the appropriate federal agency to procure for the state the benefits of federal law regarding vocational rehabilitation; 
(4) collaborate with the federal social security administration to provide disability determination services pursuant to federal law; and 
(5) determine eligibility for state disability services pursuant to federal law, the Act and rules promulgated under the Act. 

SECTION 5. VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION OFFICE--POWERS AND DUTIES.
A. The Vocational Rehabilitation Office (office) is created. The Commission shall appoint a director, who shall be the administrative officer of the Commission. The director shall be appointed without reference to party affiliation and solely based on the grounds of fitness to perform the duties of the director's office. The director shall employ staff necessary for the effective operation of the Commission. 
B. The office may: 
(1) promulgate and enforce rules for the administration of the Act and state laws relating to vocational rehabilitation; 
(2) conduct research and compile statistics relating to vocational rehabilitation; 
(3) make surveys and studies in cooperation with other agencies to determine the needs of the state in the areas where federal aid funds are to be applied; and 
(4) give technical advice and assistance to any state or local agency in connection with that agency obtaining federal aid funds. 
C. The office shall: 
(1)administer vocational rehabilitation services; 
(2) administer a state plan created by the Commission; 
(3) ensure that behavioral health services are provided, contracted for or approved in compliance with the requirements of Section 9-7-6.4 NMSA 1978; 
(4) provide for reports to be made to the federal agency as required; and 
(5) provide for reports to be made to the commission from a person receiving federal aid funds. 

SECTION 6. DESIGNATED AGENCY FOR FEDERAL FUNDS--CUSTODY OF FUNDS—BUDGETS--DISBURSEMENTS.
A. The office is designated the sole state agency to administer and receive federal aid funds.
B. The state treasurer shall be the custodian of all federal aid funds. 
C. All state funds, federal aid funds or grants to the state relating to vocational rehabilitation shall be budgeted and accounted for as provided by law and disbursed by warrants of the secretary of finance and administration on vouchers issued by the director or the director's authorized representative.
D. All federal aid funds received by the state to be used for vocational rehabilitation programs may be expended in any succeeding year from the year received.
 
SECTION 7. VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION-- ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS.
Vocational rehabilitation shall be provided to a person who: 
A. is a resident of the state at the time of filing an application for vocational rehabilitation; and B. is eligible for a vocational rehabilitation program; or 
C. qualifies for eligibility under the terms of an agreement that the state has with the federal government or with another state. 

SECTION 8. HEARING.
A fair hearing shall be provided for a person applying for or receiving vocational rehabilitation who is aggrieved by an action or inaction of the commission or office pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act.

SECTION 9. THIRD-PARTY LIABILITY.
 A. The office shall make reasonable efforts to ascertain any legal liability of third parties that are or may be liable to pay all or part of the cost of rehabilitation services of an applicant or client of vocational rehabilitation. 
B. When the office provides vocational rehabilitation services to a qualified person, the office is surrogated to any right of the individual against a third party for recovery of costs incurred. 

SECTION 10. NONTRANSFERABLE OR ASSIGNABLE RIGHTS.--The rights of a person pursuant to state law relating to vocational rehabilitation are not transferable or assignable in law or in equity. 

SECTION 11. LIMITATIONS ON POLITICAL ACTIVITIES.
A vocational rehabilitation provider shall not: 
(1) engage in administering a vocational rehabilitation program or use the person's official authority or influence to interfere with any public election or partisan political campaign; 
(2) take an active part in the management of a political campaign or participate in any political activity beyond the person's constitutional rights of voting and of free speech; or 
(3) be required to contribute or render service, assistance, subscription, assessment or contribution for any political purpose. 
B. A person that violates the provisions of this section shall be subject to discharge or suspension. 


SECTION 12. ADMISSION TO STATE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS--EXEMPTION FROM CERTAIN FEES.--Upon written request of the Commission, all state educational institutions shall accept for admission, without any charge for any fees except tuition charges, a person with a disability meeting the standards of the institution. 

SECTION 13. Amends Section 9-7-6.4 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 2004, Chapter 46, Section 8, as amended) INTERAGENCY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH PURCHASING COLLABORATIVE to adjust the division title to Vocational Education Division, deleting the former term: rehabilitation.

SECTION 14. Amends Section 9-24-4 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 2004, Chapter 27, Section 4, as amended) DEPARTMENT CREATED to delete A(11) the vocational rehabilitation division of the Public Education Department.


SECTION 15. Amends Section 13-1C-3 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 2005, Chapter 334, Section 3) is amended to read: "13-1C-3. DEFINITIONS.
As used in the State Use Act: 
Subsection G the definition of “qualified individual” is amended to delete division of public education department and inserting office to refer to the vocational rehabilitation office.

SECTION 16. Amends Section 21-6-2 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1899, Chapter 42, Section 3, as amended) PURPOSES--ADMISSION AGE--ADMISSION OF NONRESIDENTS--TUITION--CHANGE OF NAME--EXPENDITURES FOR GRADUATES IN COLLEGE--AUDIOLOGICAL CLINIC--SCHOLARSHIPS-- PRESIDENT'S POWERS.-- 
Amends Subsection C to delete division of public education department and inserting office to refer to the vocational rehabilitation office.

SECTION 17. Amends Section 22-14-1 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1967, Chapter 16, Section 191, as amended) DEFINITIONS as used in Sections 22-14-2 through 22-14-16 NMSA 1978 to delete Subsection B definition of person with disability and and Subsection C vocational rehabilitation. Then reletters the section.
The new Subsection B deletes or vocational rehabilitation to provide the following definition:
B. "federal aid funds" means funds, gifts or grants received by the state under any federal aid for vocational education.

SECTION 18. Amends Section 22-14-9 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1967, Chapter 16, Section 198, as amended) CUSTODY OF FUNDS—BUDGETS--DISBURSEMENTS to delete Subsection C and reletter the section.
 [C. All state funds, federal aid funds or grants to the state relating to vocational rehabilitation shall be budgeted and accounted for as provided by law and by the rules of the department of finance and administration. These funds or grants shall be disbursed by warrants of the department of finance and administration on vouchers issued by the director of the vocational rehabilitation division or the director’s authorized representative.
The new Subsection C deletes or vocational rehabilitation to provide for vocational education programs, as follows: 
C. All federal aid funds received by the state to be used for vocational education programs may be expended in any succeeding year from the year received." 


SECTION 19. Amends Section 22-14-14 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1967, Chapter 16, Section 202) is amended to read: "22-14-14. LIMITATIONS ON POLITICAL ACTIVITIES to remove reference to vocational rehabilitation and update the code reference to  Sections 22-14-1 through 22-14-16 NMSA 1978. Also revised to be gender neutral.

SECTION 20. Amends Section 28-10-1 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1973, Chapter 349, Section 1, as amended) GOVERNOR'S COMMISSION ON DISABILITY to remove the Public Education Department and refer to the vocational rehabilitation office.

SECTION 21. Amends the title of Section 28-11A-3 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1981, Chapter 260, Section 3) to read: VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION  OFFICE--PURCHASE OF TELECOMMUNICATION DEVICES FOR THE DEAF.
Subsection is revised to provide that the vocational rehabilitation office shall purchase and install a telecommunication divide for the deaf. Reference to division is deleted and office is inserted. 

SECTION 22. Amends Section 28-11B-1 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1991, Chapter 72, Section 1, as amended) COMMISSION FOR DEAF AND HARD-OF-HEARING PERSONS CREATED.
Section 22 is amended for grammar, gender neutrality, and to update the effective date to read June 18, 1999.

SECTION 23. Amends Section 28-16A-4 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1993, Chapter 50, Section 4) DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES PLANNING COUNCIL--CREATION--MEMBERSHIP--TERMS. 
Subsection B is amended for gender neutrality. Subsection B(5) and B(6) is amended to make a change to the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council from two directors from the state department of public education. It inserts the following directors: (5) the secretary of public education; (6) the director of the vocational rehabilitation office;
Then renumbers the list.

SECTION 24. Amends Section 28-16A-8 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1993, Chapter 50, Section 8) PLANNING FOR COMMUNITY SERVICES FOR PERSONS WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES.
Subsection A inserts an additional requirement for the Council to include support as well as services and updates the code reference to Section 28-16A-7 NMSA 1978. 
Subsection B is amended to correct the titles of the various department and divisions to match current use.

SECTION 25. Amends Section 28-16A-9 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1993, Chapter 50, Section 9) 
INFORMATION AND REFERRAL SYSTEM-- COORDINATION AND CONTINUATION to change Subsection C to remove the state department of public education and insert: 
vocational rehabilitation commission and its office;
Subsection E is rewritten to update a title as follows: the New Mexico school for the blind and visually  impaired;

SECTION 26. Amends Section 38-9-6 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1979, Chapter 263, Section 6, as amended) is amended to read: "38-9-6. NOTICE--PROOF OF DISABILITY to delete the division of the public education department and insert the vocational rehabilitation office.

SECTION 27. TEMPORARY PROVISION--TRANSFER OF FUNCTIONS, PERSONNEL, MONEY, APPROPRIATIONS, RECORDS AND PROPERTY is unchanged.

SECTION 28. REPEAL.--Sections 22-14-2.1, 22-14-3.1, 22-14-7, 22-14-8, 22-14-10 through 22-14-13 and 22-14-30 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 2005, Chapter 328, Sections 2 and 4, Laws 1967, Chapter 16, Sections 196 and 197, Laws 1971, Chapter 324, Section 4, Laws 1967, Chapter 16, Section 199, Laws 1983, Chapter 60, Section 1, Laws 1967, Chapter 16, Sections 200 and 201 and Laws 1971, Chapter 324, Section 4, as amended) are repealed. 

SECTION 29. EFFECTIVE DATE.--The effective date of the provisions of this act is July 1, 2021.

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