Minutes — November 2018 Public Policy Committee Meeting


  • Committee Members Present
  • Lora Taylor, Committee Chair
  • Hunter Adkins
  • Patty Anderson, DRTx
  • Kristen Cox
  • Kristine Clark
  • Stephen Gersuk
  • Meagan Orsag, TAMU – CDD
  • Michael Peace
  • Nina Zuna, UT – CDS
  • Committee Members Absent
  • Ruth Mason
  • Brandon Pharris
  • Stephanie Muth, HHSC, Title XIX/Medicaid
  • Guests Present
  • Ricardo Atkinson, TCDD Policy Fellow
  • Jan Brown
  • Linda Litzinger
  • Dr. Joshua Rotenberg
  • Mary Jane Williams
  • Tiffany Williams, TCDD Policy Fellow
  • Staff Members Present
  • Scott Daigle
  • Ashley Ford
  • Linda Logan

Call to Order

The Public Policy Committee of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) convened on Thursday, November 8, 2018 in the Yucca/San Pedro room of the Embassy Suites Austin Central, 5901 North IH-35, Austin, TX 78723. Public Policy Committee Chair Lora Taylor called those present to order at 9:08 AM.

  1. Introductions of Committee Members, Staff and Visitors
  2. Chair Taylor asked the Committee members, staff, and guests to introduce themselves and share what they are thankful for.
  1. Public Comments
  2. No public comments were offered to the Committee.
  1. Consideration of August 2, 2018 Minutes
  2. The Committee reviewed the minutes from the August 2, 2018, Public Policy Committee meeting.
  4. MOTION: To approve the minutes of the August 2, 2018, Public Policy Committee meeting. No additions or corrections were noted.
  5. MADE BY: Hunter Adkins
  6. SECOND: Kristine Clark
  7. The motion passed without opposition. Kristen Cox abstained from voting.
  1. Chair’s Remarks
  2. Chair Taylor reviewed absences and welcomed Richard Atkinson, the newest TCDD Policy Fellow housed at Family to Family. Taylor provided personal updates regarding her family and recent interactions with her legislator and other advocacy activities.
  1. Member Updates
  2. Committee members provided personal updates regarding their family and recent involvement with advocacy activities.
  4. Chair Taylor provided an update on behalf of Committee member Ruth Mason regarding the Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP). Mason shared that following the presentation from Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP) staff at the August Public Policy Committee meeting, she has maintained contact and learned that the program was closed for a short period of time to restructure with the goal of providing better services.
  1. Selection of Nominating Committee Member
  2. Chair Taylor explained that Council policies provide for a Nominating Committee to be established each year at the fall Council meeting. This Committee will bring forth nominations for the Council Vice-Chair and Consumer (Self-Advocate) Member-at-Large to the Executive Committee during the February Council meeting. Taylor asked the Public Policy Committee to nominate one of its members to the Council’s Nominating Committee. Kristine Clark was nominated.
  4. MOTION: To approve Kristine Clark as the designated Public Policy Committee member of the Nominating Committee.
  5. MADE BY: Michael Peace
  6. SECOND: Hunter Adkins
  7. The motion passed unanimously.
  1. TCDD Public Policy Priorities
  2. The Committee reviewed and discussed the Council’s 2019 Public Policy Priorities. Chair Taylor presented the priorities to include Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS), Community Attendant Rates and Wages, Least Restrictive Environment, Accessible Transportation, Accessible Parking, Employment First, and Healthcare.
  4. As the Committee discussed the priority of Least Restrictive Environment, Disability Rights Texas representative Patty Anderson recommended that the language should be revised to reflect the language used in the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C.
  6. MOTION: To approve the Least Restrictive Environment priority to read:
  7. Most Integrated, Person-Centered Setting: Strengthen the community’s capacity to support all people with disabilities to live in the most integrated, person-centered setting, while consolidating and/or closing more restrictive settings like state supported living centers (SSLCs). Individuals should not be unnecessarily segregated in an institution because the state has not adequately funded community supports.
  8. MADE BY: Patty Anderson
  9. SECOND: Kristine Clark
  10. The motion passed with Stephen Gersuk opposed.
  11. Following this discussion, the Committee reached consensus on the remaining priorities.
  13. MOTION: To approve the 2019 Public Policy Priorities.
  14. MADE BY: Kristine Clark
  15. SECOND: Michael Peace
  16. The motion passed with Stephen Gersuk opposed.
  1. Preparation for February Council Legislative Activities
  2. The Committee discussed the February 2019 Council member’s informational event at the Texas Legislature. As discussed during the Committee of the Whole, members will engage with legislators during a meet and greet event and provide education on the Public Policy Priority areas. There will be additional time for members to make visits to specific legislative offices.
  4. The Committee discussed and requested additional information and/or support related to the Council’s 2019 Public Policy Priorities, advocacy efforts, and other policy topics including:
  • A. Service animal policies
  • B. Coordination of testimony by Council members during session
  • C. Building relationships with Council members’ newly elected legislators
  • D. Medicaid Expansion in Texas and Medicaid Fraud/Waste policies
  • E. Programs that educate people to run for public office, such as “Elect Her”
  • F. Elimination of HCBS interest list policies in other states
  • G. Employment-related legislation
  • H. Addition of how to apply for HCBS waivers on TCDD website
  1. Future Activities for State Plan Implementation
  2. A. Disability Advocacy Conference
  3. Chair Taylor presented and the Committee discussed the executive summary for a Disability Advocacy Conference. Chair Taylor noted that the purpose of the project is to create an event for continuing education and opportunities in policy-related leadership development and advocacy skills. The project would include one statewide or several regional events to connect individuals who were previously trained through TCDD leadership and advocacy programs.
  5. The Committee recommended approval of funding but requested that the full Council set the funding amount. Members wished to inquire if proposed funding of up to $150,000 per year, for up to three years could be allocated over the duration of the project if less funding was needed in planning or ending years and more was needed to implement the event.
  7. MOTION: To recommend Council approval for a Disability Advocacy Conference project, with the funding amount to be determined by the full Council.
  8. MADE BY: Kristen Cox
  9. SECOND: Kristine Clark
  10. The motion passed unanimously.
  12. B. EngAGEment for Millennials
  13. Chair Taylor presented the EngAGEment for Millennials executive summary, which would fund projects to engage millennials with and without disabilities in leadership and advocacy activities using innovative, millennial-friendly methods. Projects would develop and demonstrate models that engage at least 75 millennials by the second year with 300 newly engaged individuals by the end of the project, provide a report with key findings and outcomes, create a user-friendly toolkit that can be used by others to improve their engagement with millennials, and provide TCDD with at least one story per year from a millennial who benefitted from the project.
  15. MOTION: To recommend Council approval of up to $100,000 per year, per project, for up to five years to implement a five EngAGEment with Millennials projects.
  16. MADE BY: Kristine Clark
  17. SECOND: Michael Peace
  18. The motion passed unanimously.
  1. State and Federal Policy Update
  2. The Committee received a brief update regarding state and federal policy activities including the Health and Human Services Commission’s (HHSC) IDD Strategic Plan, the HHSC IDD Gap Survey, and the HHSC Adult Medicaid Dental Services Survey.
  1. Public Input on Committee Discussion
  2. The Committee received public input from Mary Jane Williams, Executive Director of Family to Family, regarding HCBS waivers and interest list reduction and supports for integrated settings.
  4. The Committee also received public input from Linda Litzinger, self, regarding Medicaid expansion in Texas, health care costs, the Medicaid Buy-In program for children, and the Health Insurance Premium Payment (HIPP) program.
  1. Other Discussion Items
  2. The Committee briefly discussed other ways to achieve the Council’s mission and opportunities for the Committee to use its role in the disability community to create change regarding the public input provided.
  1. Future Agenda Items
  2. Members of the Committee requested that additional information regarding Medicaid expansion and service animals be provided during a future meeting.


There being no further business, Committee Chair Lora Taylor adjourned the meeting at 12:01 PM.