Minutes — November 2017 Public Policy Committee Meeting

2017 Council and Committee Meetings


Committee Members Present

  • Lora Taylor, Committee Chair
  • Hunter Adkins
  • Patty Anderson, DRTx
  • Kristine Clark
  • Kristen Cox
  • Stephen Gersuk
  • Ruth Mason
  • Meagan Orsag, TAMU — CDD
  • Michael Peace
  • Amy Sharp, UT — CDS

Committee Members Absent

  • Lisa Akers-Owen, HHSC — Older Americans Act
  • Brandon Pharris
  • Jami Snyder, HHSC — Title XIX/Medicaid

Council Members Present

  • Mary Durheim, Council Chair

Guests Present

  • Chris Masey
  • Mike Mason
  • Alexandra Noble, TCDD Policy Fellow
  • Rona Statman
  • Robert Schier III
  • Sami Rahman
  • Tiffany Williams, TCDD Policy Fellow

Staff Members Present

  • Ashley Ford
  • Linda Logan
  • Jessica Ramos
  • Beth Stalvey, Executive Director

Call To Order

The Public Policy Committee convened on Thursday, November 2, 2017 in Room Live Oak at the Hilton Austin Airport, 9515 Hotel Drive, Austin, TX 78719. Public Policy Committee Chair Lora Taylor called those present to order at 1:01 p.m.

  1. Introductions
    Chair Taylor asked the Committee members, staff, and guests to introduce themselves and to share what they are thankful for.

  2. Public Comments
    No public comments were offered to the Committee.

  3. Consideration of Minutes
    The Committee reviewed the minutes from the August 3, 2017 Public Policy Committee meeting. One correction was noted: Patty Anderson, not Mary Faithfull, was in attendance from Disability Rights Texas (DRTx).

    MOTION: To approve the minutes of the August 3, 2017 Public Policy Committee meeting as corrected.
    MADE BY: Michael Peace
    SECOND: Hunter Adkins
    The motion passed unanimously.

  4. Chair’s Remarks
    Chair Taylor reviewed absences and thanked Ivy Goldstein, TCDD Agency Representative for HHSC — Title V Maternal/Child Heath Texas, for her facilitation of an aging caregiver seminar that Taylor attended. Following the seminar, Taylor was moved to discuss and develop a long-term plan of her daughter with her family.

  5. Member Updates
    Committee member Kristen Cox discussed her ongoing advocacy efforts at Texas A&M University regarding inclusive education and educator preparedness for students with disabilities. In the coming months, Cox will speak to a class of 285 special education teachers at Texas A&M.

    Committee member Meagan Orsag gave an update regarding student trainings on disability awareness at Texas A&M University and potential opportunities for expanding the training program at other colleges. Cox’s son, who is a student senator with disabilities at Texas A&M, has been instrumental in engaging with Aggie student leaders and others to participate in the disability awareness trainings and inclusive planning activities.

    The Committee welcomed Tiffany Williams, the TCDD Public Policy Fellow recently hired by the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD). Williams described her professional background and her motivation for working to improve the lives of people with disabilities at a systemic level through public policy. Chris Masey, former TCDD Public Policy Fellow, will be mentoring Williams throughout the fellowship.

    Chris Masey gave an update regarding Texas’ implementation of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Program. Masey explained that although Texas has not yet designated an entity to administer ABLE accounts, people with disabilities and their families can open ABLE accounts in other participating states.

    Alexandra Noble, TCDD Public Policy Fellow with EveryChild, Inc., discussed her ongoing work for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) living in general residential operation (GRO) facilities administered by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Child Protective Services (CPS) division. Noble explained that there are an inadequate number of waiver slots to help children move out of these institutions. Noble will release her research regarding children with IDD living in GROs soon and she will be available to give presentations to interested audiences. EveryChild, Inc. will continue to educate decision-makers and advocates about the importance of children growing up in families and the need for community-based waivers to ensure that they can.

  6. Disproportionalities and Disparities Discussion
    The Committee discussed, per the Council’s State Plan Objective 2.3, opportunities to coordinate and collaborate with leaders advocating for bilingual education to address disproportionately low number of students who are English Language Learners (ELL) who receive special education services, including Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) services.

    The committee received an update regarding the Texans Care for Children report specific to Northeast Texas ECI services. The report revealed that ECI enrollment of Hispanic children in Northeast Texas decreased 41 percent from 2011 to 2016, despite a four percent increase in the region’s population of Hispanic children under age three from 2011 to 2015.

    TCDD staff will meet with Texas Association for Bilingual Education (TABE) and the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus (MALC) to collaborate on recommendations to address access of ELL students to special education services, including ECI services.

  7. Selection of Nominating Committee Member
    Chair Taylor explained that Council policies provide for a Nominating Committee to be established each year at the fall Council meeting to nominate Executive Committee members for the following year. Taylor asked the Public Policy Committee to nominate one of its members to the Council’s Nominating Committee. Hunter Adkins was nominated.

    MOTION: To approve Hunter Adkins as the designated Public Policy Committee member of the Nominating Committee.
    MADE BY: Kristen Cox
    SECOND: Michael Peace
    The motion passed unanimously.

  8. Position Statement Review Plan
    Chair Taylor presented the proposed Position Statement Review Plan and explained the proposed review changes. In an effort to make the position statement review process more efficient, the proposed Position Statement Review Plan indicates the level to which staff recommends revisions to each position statement. All position statements are categorized as either “OK as is,” “Minor Revisions,” “Major Revisions,” or “Delete Statement.” The Committee considered the Position Statement Review Plan and revised the plan to state “All members’ proposed edits and comments are due to staff prior to the Council meeting.”

    MOTION: To approve the Position Statement Review Plan as revised.
    MADE BY: Michael Peace
    SECOND: Hunter Adkins
    The motion passed unanimously.

  9. Public Policy Staff Activities
    The Committee received updates from staff regarding state policy issues and staff activities including special session budget and legislation, strategies to improve meaningful and inclusive participation of self-advocates in public meetings, and key interim charges that could impact people with disabilities and their families.

    The Committee received updates from Jessica Ramos, Public Policy Director, regarding state supported living centers (SSLCs) deferred maintenance estimates and opportunities to improve the relationship between HHSC’s institutional and community services divisions. Ramos explained that the IDD managed care pilot directed by Senate Bill 7 (83R) has been cancelled by HHSC. Committee member Ruth Mason discussed her son’s negative experience with a former managed care pilot in Houston.

    The Committee received updates from staff regarding recent federal policy issues including Texas’ plan to implement the Every Child Succeeds Act (ESSA), HR 620 that would roll back some of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protections and procedures for business compliance, staff participation in a Wrightslaw Education training, rules related to assessment and support for students with Dyslexia, and the likely expiration of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at the end of 2017 which could impact nine million children.

  10. Other Discussion Items
    The Committee discussed developing an inventory of Council members’ interests, expertise, and connections to improve advocacy.


There being no further business, Committee Chair Lora Taylor adjourned the meeting at 3:46 p.m.

Beth Stalvey, Secretary to the Council