Minutes — August 2018 Public Policy Committee Meeting


  • Committee Members Present
  • Lora Taylor, Committee Chair
  • Hunter Adkins
  • Patty Anderson, DRTx
  • Kristen Cox
  • Stephen Gersuk
  • Ruth Mason
  • Meagan Orsag, TAMU – CDD
  • Dana Williamson, HHSC, Title XIX/Medicaid
  • Amy Sharp, UT – CDS
  • Committee Members Absent
  • Michael Peace
  • Brandon Pharris
  • Guests Present
  • Lori Breslow, HHSC, STAP
  • Jan Brown
  • Adrian Heffelfinger
  • Alexandra Noble, TCDD Policy Fellow
  • Rona Statman
  • Margaret Susman, HHSC, STAP
  • Christa Walikonis, TCDD Policy Fellow
  • Staff Present
  • Scott Daigle
  • Ashley Ford
  • Linda Logan
  • Josh Ryf
  • Beth Stalvey, Executive Director
  • Alicja Zapalska

Call to Order

The Public Policy Committee of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) convened on Thursday, August 2, 2018 in Ballroom H of the Crowne Plaza Austin Hotel, 6121 North IH-35, Austin, TX 78752. Public Policy Committee Chair Lora Taylor called those present to order at 1:30 PM.

  1. Introductions
    Chair Taylor asked the Committee members, staff, and guests to introduce themselves and share their goals for TCDD during the 2019 Texas Legislative Session. The Committee identified the following as goals for session:
    • Increase engagement by TCDD within the legislative process
    • Improve the impact of TCDD’s policy advocacy
    • Expand footprint of TCDD
    • Establish TCDD as the go-to resource for legislators
    • Increase awareness of TCDD’s advocacy work and grant projects
    • Educate to support specific public policy
  1. Public Comments
  2. No public comments were offered to the Committee.
  1. Consideration of Minutes
  2. The Committee reviewed the minutes from the May 3, 2018 Public Policy Committee meeting.
  4. MOTION: To approve the minutes of the May 3, 2018 Public Policy Committee meeting. No additions or corrections were noted.
  5. MADE BY: Hunter Adkins
  6. SECOND: Stephen Gersuk
  7. The motion passed without opposition. Patty Anderson abstained from voting.
  1. Chair’s Remarks
    Chair Taylor reviewed absences and welcomed staff from the Specialized
    Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP) at the Texas Health and Human
    Services Commission (HHSC) invited to provide a presentation about STAP to the
  1. Member Updates
  2. Committee members provided personal updates regarding their family and recent involvement with advocacy activities.
  1. HHSC Program Presentation: Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP)
  2. During the May 2018 meeting, Committee member Ruth Mason offered public comments about STAP. Mason’s comments noted the complexities and delays in receiving services through this program were detrimental to those that need them. Committee member and HHSC representative Dana Williamson reached out to the administrators of the program.
  4. The Committee received a presentation from Lori Breslow, director of STAP who noted that there were approximately 28,000 requests for equipment last year and only five staff members to process these requests and it can take up to six months to process an application.
  6. Following the presentation, the Committee discussed potential solutions for addressing the complexities and delays of STAP.
  1. TCDD Public Policy Priorities
    Committee members provided the policy issues they care most about for the 2019 Texas Legislative Session. The Committee then discussed policy issue areas that should be included in TCDD’s 2019 Public Policy Priorities. The Committee identified the following as public policy priorities:
    • Provide adequate funding for Medicaid, including increased funds to reduce the current number of people on interests lists for home and community-based services (HCBS) waivers
    •  Ensure rates and wages for community attendants
      are adequate so that those who provide direct support to people with
      disabilities are well-trained, available, and paid a living wage
    • Strengthen the community’s capacity to support all people with disabilities to live in the least restrictive environment of their choosing, including the consolidation and/or closure of state-supported living centers (SSLCs)
    • Improve access to safe, reliable, affordable, and accessible transportation
    • Increase the enforcement and availability of accessible parking spaces
    • Support and incentivize the competitive integrated employment of all people with disabilities, including efforts to fully realize the state’s Employment First policy
    • Promote efforts to increase access and affordability of health care, including the expansion of Texas Compassionate Use Program (TCUP)
  1. State & Federal Policy Update
    The Committee received a brief update on policy issues and recent policy staff activities. Committee Chair Taylor directed members to the meeting binder for more specific information and encouraged members to ask policy staff if they had questions about anything provided.
  1. Other Discussion Items
    The Committee discussed leadership and advocacy grant projects and ideas for future TCDD activities. The Committee asked TCDD staff to research and/or develop executive summaries for the following ideas discussed:
    • A gathering of leadership and advocacy grant project trainees in Austin this fall before the session begins
    • A large state policy conference to educate and connect with current and past trainees 
    • A project that focuses on Millennials, or adults between the ages of 22 and 37


There being no further business, Committee Chair Taylor adjourned the meeting at 4:17 PM.

Beth Stalvey, Secretary to the Council