Senate Bill No. 40

(Senators Oliverio, Craigo, Manchin and Tomblin, Mr. President, original sponsors)


[Passed March 9, 1996; in effect from passage.]


AN ACT to amend chapter twenty-nine of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated article twenty-four, relating to establishing the technology-related assistance revolving loan fund for individuals with disabilities and the technology-related assistance revolving loan fund for individuals with disabilities board; providing short title, defining certain terms; providing for the membership of the technology-related assistance revolving loan fund for individuals with disabilities board and its powers, duties and compensation; allowing a nonprofit, consumer-driven organization as contracted by the board and other related associations to develop criteria for funds; providing for disbursement of the revolving loan fund money; setting forth the minimum amount of interest the board may charge; including a provision regarding funding; setting a cap on the maximum amount which may be expended from the fund for administrative expenses; and specifying maximum time such loans may be outstanding.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter twenty-nine of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated article twenty-four, to read as follows:

§29-24-1. Legislative findings and declarations.

Individuals with disabilities comprise a significant and increasing percentage of West Virginia's population. The Legislature finds and declares that action is necessary to assist these individuals in their homes, schools, employment and communities to become more independent citizens of the state. Many of these individuals require technology-related devices and technology-related services in order to perform functions, such as caring for themselves, performing manual tasks, mobility, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing and learning in order to have the ability to more independently participate in society and the work force. In order to meet present and increasing needs of West Virginians for technology-related devices and technology-related services, it is necessary for the state to provide funds that neither supplant nor replace existing state or federal funds for the technology-related revolving loan fund for individuals with disabilities.
§29-24-2. Terms defined.
As used in this article, the term:
(a) "Board" means the technology-related assistance revolving loan fund for individuals with disabilities board.
(b) "Individual with disability" means any individual, of any age who, for the purposes of state or federal law, is considered to have a disability or handicap, injuries and chronic health conditions, whether congenital or acquired; and who is or would be enabled by technology-related devices or technology-related services to maintain or improve his or her ability to function in society and the workplace.
(c) "Qualifying borrower" means any individual with disabilities and their family members, guardians, authorized representatives or nonprofit entity who demonstrates that such a loan will improve their independence or become more productive members of the community. The individual must demonstrate credit worthiness and repayment abilities to the satisfaction of the board. No more than twenty-percent of all loan funds are to be provided to nonprofit entities in a single year.
(d) "Technology-related assistance" means either the provision of technology-related devices or technology-related services to improve the independence, quality of life or productive involvement in the community of individuals with disabilities.
(e) "Technology-related device" means any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off-the- shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
(f) "Technology-related service" means any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition or use of a technology-related device, including:
(1) The evaluation of the needs of an individual with a disability, including a functional evaluation in the individual's customary environment;
(2) Purchasing, leasing or otherwise providing for the acquisition of technology-related devices by individuals with disabilities;
(3) Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing or replacing technology-related devices;
(4) Coordinating and using other therapies, interventions or services with technology-related devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs; and
(5) Training or technical assistance for individuals or the family of an individual with disabilities.
(g) "Revolving loan fund" means the technology-related assistance loan fund for individuals with disabilities established in this article.
(h) "Consumer" means individuals with disabilities and, when appropriate, their family members, guardians, advocates or authorized representatives.
§29-24-3. Board created, membership, terms, officers and staff.
(a) There is established the technology-related assistance revolving loan fund for individuals with disabilities board that shall contract to a nonprofit, consumer-driven organization for administrative purposes only.
(b) The board shall consist of seven members of which at least three must be individuals with disabilities and appointed by the secretary of education and the arts as follows:
(1) Director of division of rehabilitation services or his or her designee;
(2) A representative of the banking industry;
(3) A representative of the medical profession;
(4) A certified public accountant; and
(5) Three additional members from the public-at-large shall be consumers. Members shall be appointed by the governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, for terms of three years, their initial appointments, however, being three for three-year terms, two for two-year terms and two for one-year terms: Provided, That the governor may not appoint any members to this board until the Legislature has made an appropriation in a sufficient amount to cover the expenses of this board. State officers or employees may be appointed to the board unless otherwise prohibited by law. To be eligible for appointment to the board, the citizen members shall demonstrate knowledge in the area of technology-related assistance as users or providers of the rehabilitative services to the extent practicable. The board shall approve all proposed rules and the established nonprofit consumer- driven organization shall then promulgate and implement same.
(c) In the event a board member fails to attend twenty-five percent of the scheduled meetings in a twelve-month period, the board may elect to remove that member after written notification to that member and the secretary of education and the arts.
(d) In the event of death, resignation, disqualification or removal for any reason of any member of the board, the vacancy shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment and the successor shall serve for the unexpired term.
(e) The initial terms for all members shall be on the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-seven.
(f) Membership on the board does not constitute public office and no member shall be disqualified from holding public office by reason of his or her membership.
(g) The board shall elect from its membership a chairperson, treasurer and secretary as well as any other officer as appropriate. The term of the "chairperson" is for two years in duration and he or she cannot serve more than two consecutive terms.
(h) The board has the power and authority to establish an appeals process with regard to the administration of the fund. The selected nonprofit, consumer-driven organization contracted by the board shall submit to the board proposed rules governing the operation of the fund including, but not limited to, eligibility of receipt of funds and all other matters consistent with and necessary to accomplishing the purpose of this fund.
(i) The board may contract to a nonprofit entity to be the authority to carry out the purposes of this article. The compensation of personnel shall be paid from moneys in the loan fund. Board personnel may be members of the state civil service system. The board shall utilize existing state resources and staff of participating departments whenever practicable. Personnel expenses and other costs authorized in this subsection shall be paid from moneys in the revolving loan fund. Administrative costs are not to exceed ten percent of the revolving loan funds yearly budget.
§29-24-4. Compensation and expenses of board.
Members of the board shall receive a compensation in an amount not to exceed the state per diem for each day the member of the board is in attendance at a meeting of the board, plus either reimbursement for actual transportation cost while traveling by public carrier or the same mileage allowance for use of a personal car in connection with such attendance as members of the Legislature receive. Members with disabilities shall be compensated for costs associated with personal assistance, interpreters and disability related accommodations for the purpose of conducting the business of the board. Expense allowances and other costs authorized in this section shall be paid from moneys in the loan fund.
§29-24-5. Power, duties and responsibilities of the board;

(a) The board shall do all of the following:
(1) Meet at such times (minimum of four times each fiscal year) and at places as it determines necessary or convenient to perform its duties. The board shall also meet on the call of the chairperson or secretary of education and the arts;
(2) Maintain written minutes of its meetings;
(3) Adopt rules for the transaction of its business;
(4) Promulgate rules to carry out the purposes of this chapter, which ensure that individuals, profit and nonprofit corporations and partnerships are eligible for loans;
(5) Receive, administer and disburse funds to support purposes established by this chapter and contract with nonprofit, consumer- based groups dealing with individuals with disabilities to assist in administering programs established by this chapter;
(6) Maintain detailed records of all expenditures of the board, funds received as gifts and donations and disbursements made from the revolving loan fund;
(7) During the first three years of operation of the fund, the contracted nonprofit consumer-driven organization shall submit to the secretary of education and the arts and the board annually a summary report concerning programmatic and financial status of the technology revolving loan fund. Future year annual reports will be provided to the board;
(8) Develop and implement a comprehensive set of financial standards to ensure the integrity and accountability of all funds received as well as loan funds disbursed; and
(9) Conform to the standards and requirements prescribed by the state auditor.
(b) The board shall enter into loan agreements with any qualifying borrower, who demonstrates that:
(1) The loan will assist one or more individuals with disabilities in improving their independence, productivity and full participation in the community; and
(2) The applicant has the ability to repay the loan. Any necessary loan limitation shall be determined by the board. All loans must be repaid within such terms and at such interest rates as the board may determine to be appropriate. However, no loan may extend beyond sixty months from date of award and may be paid off anytime without prepayment penalty. The board shall determine the interest rate to be charged on loans made pursuant to this article, but in no event may the interest rate on any such loans be less than four per centum per annum.
(c) The board may authorize loans up to ninety percent of the cost of an item or items.
(d) The board may award loans to qualifying borrowers for purposes, including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) To assist one or more individuals with disabilities to improve their independence through the purchase of technology-related devices; and
(2) To assist one or more individuals with disabilities to become more independent members of the community and improve such individuals quality of life within the community through the purchase of technology-related devices.
(e) In the event of the failure of the borrower to repay the loan balance due and owing, the board shall seek to recover the loan balance by such legal or administrative action available to it. Persons or representatives of persons who default on a loan are not eligible for a new loan. The board shall retain ownership of all property, equipment or devices until the borrower's loan is paid-in-full.
(f) A new loan may not be issued to, or on behalf of, a disabled person if a previous loan made to, or on behalf of, such person remains unpaid.
(g) The board may charge a fee for loan applications and processing. All funds generated by fee charges shall be directly placed into the revolving loan fund to off-set the costs of application processing.
The board may accept federal funds granted by Congress or executive order for the purposes of this chapter as well as gifts and donations from individuals, private organizations or foundations. The acceptance and use of federal funds does not commit state funds and does not place an obligation upon the Legislature to continue the purposes for which the federal funds are made available. All funds received in the manner described in this article shall be deposited in the revolving loan fund to be disbursed as other moneys in the revolving loan fund.
§29-24-6. Disbursements.
Loans may be made for amounts ranging from a minimum of five hundred dollars to a maximum of five thousand dollars. The loan must be used to purchase essential equipment or directly related services that will assist the person with a disability to overcome barriers in daily living.
§29-24-7. Fund created.
The technology-related assistance revolving loan fund for individuals with disabilities is created as a separate fund and placed with a selected bank or credit union. The revolving loan fund may be expended only as provided in this chapter. All amounts in this fund shall be expended only upon appropriation by the Legislature, and nothing contained herein may be construed to require any level of funding by the Legislature.
§29-24-8. Deposits created by the board.
The board shall credit to the revolving loan fund all amounts paid, appropriated or donated to the revolving loan fund. All funds shall be deposited with, maintained and administered by a commercial bank or credit union and shall contain appropriations provided for that purpose, interest accrued on loan balances, fees charged and funds received in repayment of loans.
§29-24-9. Priority of fund use.
The moneys collected in the revolving loan fund shall be used only for the following purposes:
(a) Implementing revolving loan program for technology-related devices;
(b) Providing technology-related devices to individuals with severe disabilities who meet economic criteria established by the board;
(c) Providing support for technology-related assistance;
(d) Providing technology-related and disability prevention education and research;
(e) Disseminating public information;
(f) Conducting program evaluation and needs assessment;
(g) Operating the board;
(h) Conducting research and demonstration projects, including new and future uses of technology-related services; and
(i) Developing a strategic plan.
All unexpended moneys contained in this fund at the end of the fiscal year shall be carried forward from year to year.