Article 1
Establishment and Purpose

Section 1. Mandate. The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Advisory Council was created in March, 1994 by Executive Order of the Governor to implement the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended by P.L. 102-569. The mandate of the council is to advise the Commissioner of Rehabilitation and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission concerning the operation and delivery of rehabilitation services.

Section 2. Designation. The Rehabilitation Advisory Council is hereto referred to as "The Council" or "RAC" and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission is referred to as "The Commission" or "MRC".

Section 3. Purpose. The major purposes of the council are as set out in the Rehabilitation Act, Section 105, which include among others the following: to encourage the personal and vocational growth and development of individuals with disabilities, to promote barrier-free access for persons with disabilities, to ensure the full participation of individuals with disabilities in their communities.

The Council shall carry out the purpose by performing the following duties and responsibilities:

(a) Advise MRC regarding the administering of the vocational rehabilitation program under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act, particularly regarding eligibility and order of selection;

(b) Advise MRC regarding its relationship with other state agencies that affect the ability of individuals with disabilities to achieve their vocational rehabilitation goals and objectives;

(c) Advise MRC concerning the preparation of the Vocational Rehabilitation State Plan, (which plans for vocational rehabilitation services), the strategic plan and amendments thereto, and reports, needs assessments and evaluations required by Title I of the Rehabilitation Act;

(d) To the extent feasible, conduct a review and analysis of consumer satisfaction with vocational rehabilitation services and the functions performed by state agencies and other public and private entities that serve persons with disabilities;

(e) Prepare and submit an annual report to the secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Governor on the status of vocational rehabilitation programs operated within Massachusetts and make the report available to the public;

(f) Coordinate with other organizations within Massachusetts that plan or oversee the provision of services for persons with disabilities, including the Statewide Independent Living Council established under Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act, the advisory panel established under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Massachusetts Mental Health Planning Council;

(g) Advise the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission concerning coordination and the establishments of working relationships between the commission and the Statewide Independent Living Council and centers for independent Living Council and centers for independent living within Massachusetts.

In pursing these purposes, the Council encourages participation by all concerned individuals.

Article II

Section 1. Eligibility. Membership shall be open to individuals whose professional, public and private careers have demonstrated their outstanding dedication to the maintenance of the major objectives of the Council.

Persons eligible for membership in this Council shall be limited to: present and former MRC clients, persons with disabilities and/or their representatives, representative(s) of community rehabilitation programs, employers, and other persons designated by the Commissioner of MRC.

All individuals will be nominated and appointed because such persons possess the qualifications set forth above for their selection.

Section 2. Council Composition. The Council shall be composed of 21 members who are appointed by the Governor upon consideration of nominations from the commissioner of MRC. The majority of the Council members shall be individuals with disabilities who are not employed by the Commission. Every effort will be made to ensure demographic, geographic, minority and cross-disability representation within the Council's membership.

The Council shall include:

(a) At least one representative of the Statewide Independent Living Council established under Section 705 of the Rehabilitation Act;

(b) At least one representative of a parent training and information center established pursuant to section 64 J. (e) (I) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20) U.S.C. 1431 (e) (1);

(c) At least one representative of the Client Assistance Program established under section 112 of the Rehabilitation Act;

(d) At least one vocational rehabilitation counselor who has knowledge of and experience with vocational rehabilitation programs, and who shall serve ex-officio if the counselor is an employee of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission;

(e) At least one representative of community rehabilitation service providers;

(f) Four representatives from business, labor, and industry;

(g) Representatives of disability advocacy groups representing a cross section of individuals with physical, cognitive, sensory or mental disabilities, and parents, family members, guardians, advocates, or authorized representatives of individuals with disabilities who have difficulty in representing themselves or are unable due to their disabilities to represent themselves;

(h) Current or former applicants for, or recipients of vocational rehabilitation services; and the Commissioner of Rehabilitation who shall serve as an ex-officio member of the Council.

Section 3. Nominations and Appointment.

(a) Nominations. The Nominating Committee shall solicit recommendations for membership from representatives of organizations representing a broad range of individuals with disabilities and organization interested in individuals with disabilities. Nominations for council membership are submitted to the Director of Consumer Involvement, who submits a nomination slate to the Chair and Commissioner for review. The Commissioner will forward the recommended slate of nominees to the Governor's office.

(b) Appointments. The Governor shall appoint members of the council.

Section 4. Terms. Each member of the Council shall serve for a term of not more than three years and no voting member of the council may serve more than two consecutive full terms. Members shall be appointed to staggered, renewable 3-year terms except that in making the original appointments the Governor shall appoint one third (1/3) of the members to serve for one year, one third (1/3) of the members to serve two years, and the remaining members to serve for three years. Any vacancy occurring in the remaining membership of the Council shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment to serve the unexpired term of the vacancy. All Terms of officers and members shall end at the end of the current and relevant operating year following the Annual Meeting. All terms shall begin concurrent with the fiscal year except in the case of terms initiated to fill vacancies occurring midyear.

Section 5. Required Participation. The Council values each and every member. Regular participation by Council members in Council activities is considered imperative for conducting Council business. While some circumstances may necessitate occasional absence from Council meetings and activities, chronic absences can impede the Council's efforts to fulfill its mission and purpose. Therefore, absence from two (2) consecutive Council meetings will be considered grounds for termination from the Council. Council members will not be re-nominated unless the Council Chair and the Commissioner agree to make special exceptions. The Chair and the Commissioner may refer the matter to the entire Council as appropriate.

Section 6. Compensations and Expenses. The Council may use funds appropriated under Title I to reimburse members of the Council for reasonable and necessary expenses of attending Council meetings and performing Council duties (including child care and personal assistance services), and to pay compensation to a member of the Council, if such member is not employed or must forfeit wages from other employment, for each day the member is engaged in performing the duties of the Council.

Section 7. ex-officio membership. The Council may choose to select up to fifteen (15) ex-officio members provided that:

(a) One ex-officio member may be selected from each of the five (5) Regional Advisory Councils;

(b) One ex-officio member may be nominated by the Disability Determination Services Advisory Council;

(c) One ex-officio member may be nominated by the Statewide Head Injury Program Advisory Council;

(d) One ex-officio member may be nominated by the Employment Services Action Council;

(e) One ex-officio member may be nominated by the Massachusetts developmental Disabilities council; and

(f) Other individuals may be nominated by the council so as to insure the broadest possible representation or in recognition of participation and interest in the affairs of the council.

The Nominations Committee shall forward recommendations for ex-officio members to the Council for adoption. Ex-officio membership is renewable annually by the Council at the time of the Annual Meeting to take effect concurrent with the beginning of the fiscal year. Ex-officio members shall have all the rights and privileges of Council members except that they cannot vote. All other terms of membership apply as enumerated herein.

Article III
Officers and Executive Committee

Section 1. Officers. The Council shall elect officers from among its voting members. The Officers of the Rehabilitation Advisory Council shall consist of the following five (5) positions: The Chair of the Council, Vice-Chair, Secretary, and Two (2) Members-at-Large.

Section 2. Executive Committee. The Executive Committee shall consist of the officers, the Commissioner, the Consumer Involvement Director and the immediate past Chair. The Chair shall serve as Chair of the Council and Chair of the Executive Committee.

Section 3. Duties and Responsibilities. The Executive Committee may exercise authority in managing the business affairs of the Council between regular meetings. The powers and duties of all officers may from time to time change as determined by the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is subject to the authority of the Council's By-Laws and will serve at the pleasure of the Council's membership. In addition to the committee will be responsibilities set forth in this section, The Executive Committee will be responsible for:

(a) Producing position descriptions for all Executive Committee members and Council members; and

(b) Developing and preparing a resource plan for Council support (including staff and other personnel as may be needed by the Council to fulfill its mission) which will be coordinated and implemented by the Consumer Involvement Program Director;

(c) Reviewing Position descriptions and resource plans annually, recommending revisions as necessary.

Section 4. Term of Office. The terms of elected Officers shall be one (1) year and commence with the fiscal year following their nomination.

Section 5. Termination of Office. In case of resignation of an officer or his or her ineligibility for continued membership, any vacancy in the office of an elected officer may be filled by one of the remaining officers for the interim period until the Council can elect a successor for the balance of the term.

Article IV
Committees and Task Forces

Section 1. Appointment and Composition of Committees and Task Forces.

(a) Operations Committees. The Chair shall appoint operations committees for the handling of structural and procedural affairs of the Council as deemed necessary. The Chair shall define their duties and prescribe their responsibilities. Operations committees shall include By-Laws and Nominations (for membership and officers). The Nominations Committee shall include the Director of Consumer Involvement.

(b) Standing Committees. The chair may appoint from time to time standing committees for the attainment of the objective of the Council. Standing committees will address on-going substantive issues of concern to the Council.

(c) Task Forces. The Chair may from time to time appoint task force to address specific charges within a limited time frame.

(d) Committee and Task Force chairs. The Chair of the council shall appoint committee and task force chairs. Committee and task force chairs must be Council members.

(e) Ratification. The Council shall ratify the appointment of committees and task forces and their chairs by vote at regular meetings.

Section 2. Committee Responsibilities. All Committees established by the Council will be responsible for the following:

(a) Establishing a committee mission statement;

(b) Establishing a set of committee objectives for the calendar year;

(c) Reviewing the committee mission statement and objectives annually, recommending and making revisions as necessary to achieve the mission of the Council;
(d) Reporting to the Council on their progress towards and achievement of their stated yearly objectives; and

(e) Submitting a written report of their yearly activities to the Executive Committee for inclusion in the Council's Annual report to the Commissioner.

Article V

Section 1. Regular Council Meetings. The General Council meeting shall be held a minimum of four (4) times a year for the transaction of any business that may be brought before the meeting. They will usually be held in each quarter of the calendar year, with the specific dates and places being designated by the Council. At such meetings, the Council shall receive written reports from MRC and Council Committees and provide MRC advice and recommendations within the scope mission and purpose of the Council. Meetings shall be open and accessible to the public unless there is a valid reason for an executive session as set forth in the relevant state statute.

Section 2. Annual Meeting. The Council shall hold the annual meeting in the September/October months of each year. The specific date time and place of such meeting being designated by the Commission. At the Annual Meeting the Council shall:

(1) Elect a Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Secretary and two (2) Members-at-Large; and

(2) Provide MRC with a formal written summary of the Council's prior yearly activities.

Section 3. Special Meetings. Special meetings of the Council may be held any time upon the call of The Chair and/or the Commissioner of MRC at such place, time, and date as shall be stated in the call thereof.

Section 4. Notice of Regular Meetings. The Director of Consumer Involvement shall provide at least two (2) weeks notice of all regular Council meetings in appropriate and accessible media to all voting and ex-officio members. Regular meetings shall also be publicly announced.

Section 5. Timely and Accessible Notice and Information Provision. All noticed information to Council members, including but not limited to; notices of meetings, Council minutes; and informational materials and reports, will be provided in a communication which the intended recipient can access. Copies of the minutes of the previous general membership meeting will be provided to Council members within thirty (30) working days, following the meeting.

Section 6. Accessible Meetings. Meeting sites, information materials and communication for all Council general meetings, special Council and Executive meetings, will be made accessible to the membership of The Council through support to be coordinated or provided by the MRC Consumer Involvement Program.

Section 7. Quorum. Council Meetings At any regular meeting, a 51 % voting membership in attendance shall constitute a quorum. In instances where it is impossible to convene a quorum of the full Council, the Chair or Chair's designee may request a mail or telephone vote. The outcome of any voting yeahs, nays, and abstentions must be recorded in the minutes of the first succeeding Council meeting at which a quorum is present.

Section 8. Conflict of Interest. No member of the Council shall vote on any matter that would provide direct financial benefit to the member or otherwise give the appearance of a conflict of interest under Massachusetts law.

Section 9. Committee Meetings. Committee meetings of the Council may be held at any time upon the call of the committee chairs at such place, time and date as shall be stated in the call thereof.

Section 10. Notice of Committee and Executive Committee Meetings, and Special Council Meetings. Notice of the place, time, date and purpose of executive, special and committee meetings shall be provided to each effected member a minimum of three (3) calendar days to such a meeting.

Section 11. Quorum Executive Committee and Special Council Meetings. At any committee meeting, executive committee, or special Council meeting, a 51 % voting committee membership in attendance shall constitute a quorum. Decisions or actions approved at these meetings must be ratified by a minority vote of the full Council prior to being enacted, unless otherwise specified in these By-Laws.

Section 12. Voting. Unless otherwise specified in these By-Laws, all votes shall be decided by a simple majority. The Chair of the Council shall vote in the event of a tie. Proxy voting will not be permitted.

Section 13. Rules of Procedure. All meetings, regular and Executive, shall be conducted using Robert's Rule of Order (newly Revised) unless superseded by the By-Laws contained herein.

Article VI
Operating Year

Section 1. The Council's operational year shall run concurrent to the State Fiscal Year, from July 1st to June 30th.

Article VIII

The By-Laws may be altered, amended, or repealed and new By-Laws may be adopted by a vote of a two-thirds (2/3) majority of the entire Council membership provided that the notice of the proposed alteration, amendment, or repeal be disseminated to the membership in accordance with the By-Laws and with at least three (3) weeks written notice. The outcome of any such voting; yeah, nays and abstentions, must be recorded in the minutes of the first succeeding Council meeting, where a quorum is present.

By-Laws last amended 9/27/07

This information is provided by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.