A young North Texas business owner with Down Syndrome is celebrating a newly-signed Texas bill which ensures fair pay for disabled workers.
Blake Pyron broke ground when he opened a snow cone business in Sanger three years ago. In his business, hot summer days are the best days for business. That's when Pyron, 23, serves up his specialty at his mobile storefront, called 'Blake’s Snow Shack.' His family helped him open shop after a restaurant where he previously worked closed.
"Ever since Blake was born, before we took him home from the hospital they were putting limitations on him," said his father, Billy Pyron.
Worse yet, some Texas laws appeared to be stacked against people like Blake, including an antiquated state law which dates back to the 1930s, which meant employers didn't have to pay disabled people the same wages as able-bodied people.
"Two dollars an hour for some of them," said Pyron. "A lot of them, less."
Changing those laws prompted Blake and his mother, Mary Ann, to go to Austin this past spring, to lobby for fair pay for those with disabilities. Their work paid off. Last week, Blake was there when Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 753 into law.
"There's been a lot more people than us," said Billy Pyron. "Speaking out for it, and trying to get it to pass for years now."
Texas employers have until September, 2022 to come into compliance with the equal pay law. Meanwhile, Blake says he's happy with the new law. His family is proud – that he's making a difference.
"What we started for our family has encouraged more families and more people," said his father. "Blake has inspired them and gave them hope. That really means the most."