With legislation signed this week, New Hampshire is set to become the first state in the nation to make it illegal for people with disabilities to be paid less than minimum wage.

Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill Thursday prohibiting subminimum wage in New Hampshire. The new law will take effect in 60 days.

“New Hampshire has a strong tradition of treating all of our citizens with respect and dignity, and by making New Hampshire the first state to prohibit employers from paying subminimum wages to people who experience disabilities, Senate Bill 47 helps build on that tradition,” Hassan said.

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Previously, New Hampshire law allowed employers to obtain permission to pay those with physical or mental impairments less than minimum wage.

Though no businesses in the state are currently taking advantage of the provision, Hassan said that updating the state’s policies to officially end the practice affirms that “fully including all people is critical to the strength of our society, our democracy and our economy.”

Since the 1930s, federal law has allowed employers to request special permission from the U.S. Department of Labor to pay those with disabilities less than the federal minimum, which is currently $7.25 per hour. However, the issue has become divisive in recent years.

In 2012, the National Council on Disability recommended to President Barack Obama that subminimum wage be phased out and a federal law passed last year instituted new limits on who’s eligible to enter employment situations paying less than minimum wage. Nonetheless, many families and advocates continue to argue that there is a place for sheltered workshops and similar opportunities for individuals unable to thrive in competitive employment.

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