Company CEO Concerned About State Bills

The local RENEW organization is located on Sheridan Avenue in Sheridan. (Photo by Leslie Stratmoen)
The local RENEW organization is located on Sheridan Avenue in Sheridan. (Photo by Leslie Stratmoen)

The head of a local company has concerns over bills that are working their way through the state legislature. News Director Leslie Stratmoen has the story.

The chief operating officer of a locally based non-profit organization that provides vital services for people with developmental disabilities and acquired brain injuries called us yesterday from Cheyenne to say there are two bills still active in the Wyoming Legislature that could affect their clients.

CEO Chris Ahlstrom of Rehabilitation Enterprises of North Eastern Wyoming or RENEW said the bills govern Medicaid payments and minimum wage.

He said the Medicaid bill that's been passed by the House, would allot $20 million dollars in additional funding to the Medicaid waiver dedicated to the 600, plus, or minus, who are on the waiting list for services.

He described the services included in the support waiver as employment, day services and companion services, but not residential. So what does that mean to his clients, we asked, if the bill is approved?

He said he didn't know, as yet, how many of his clients this could affect, because the 600, mentioned, was the total of like clients from across the state. He said RENEW does serve 150 clients and operates in three communities, which in addition to Sheridan, includes Gillette and New Castle.

As for the minimum wage bill, if approved, he said, the legislation could put some of his clients out of a job. Basically, he said, the bill's being written so disability workers receive the same pay as non disabled. The concern, he said, is with how the bill's interpreted, because, he said, the results could impact what he called the sub minimum wage certificate.

At RENEW, he said, they don't have employee, employer relationships, but a rehabilitation relationships. As a result, he said, with the sub-minimum wage certificate, they can pay less during the training process to see how their clients stack up and whether they can function in the main stream work place.

If it did, he said, they'd be tied into paying minimum wage, and all the taxes tied into that would be cost prohibitive to his organization.

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