Tallahassee -- The Florida House passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, SB 642, by a vote of 117 to 0. The legislation, which allows families the opportunity to set up tax-exempt 529A savings accounts for disability-related expenses, passed the Florida Senate earlier this month by a vote of 38-0 and is headed to Governor Rick Scott for his signature.
The Florida legislation follows upon enactment by the federal government of the Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014. Sponsored by Ander Crenshaw, Congressman for Florida’s Fourth District, the federal law allows ABLE account funds to be disregarded for means-tested federal programs such as SSI and Medicaid, which cap (usually at $2,000) the amount an individual with a disability may save.
“The unanimous vote in both chambers in Florida is a clear sign of the nationwide momentum to set up ABLE programs, which will help people with disabilities enjoy a better quality of life,” said Stuart Spielman, Senior Policy Advisor and Counsel at Autism Speaks. “We are incredibly grateful for the leadership of Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli. We also thank Senators Lizbeth Benacquisto and Eleanor Sobel for being ABLE champions in the Senate and Representative Ray Wesley Rodrigues for being an ABLE champion in the House.”
Florida joins Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia and Washington in the growing list of states that have either passed or enacted ABLE legislation. ABLE legislation is currently pending in Alabama, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana (would amend existing law), Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Vermont.