TCDD Legislative Champions
for the 88th Legislature
Table of Contents
Announcing TCDD Legislative Champions
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) is pleased to announce TCDD Legislative Champions for the 88th Texas Legislature. During the legislative session earlier this year, these lawmakers actively worked toward improving inclusion, breaking down barriers, and promoting an increased quality of life for Texans with developmental disabilities (DD). TCDD has also identified legislative staff members who contributed to progressing bills helpful to people with disabilities or excelled in constituent services for that population.
On Sept. 20, TCDD held an online event to announce and honor the following legislators and staff. Legislative champions were recognized within categories to highlight the specific issues they each advanced during the session.
Accessibility Advocate: Sen. Drew Springer was honored as the Accessibility Advocate. Sen. Springer authored a bill that clarified enforcement of the unauthorized use of parking spaces designated for people with disabilities. He also filed bills related to adult incontinence products and a bill related to special education services.
Civil Rights Advocate: Rep. Jeff Leach, named the Civil Rights Advocate, serves as the Chair of the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee. He oversaw the consideration of numerous bills relating to guardianship, two of which he also sponsored. He also authored legislation to make voting more accessible for people with disabilities.
Health Advocate: Rep. Julie Johnson was recognized as the Health Advocate. She authored bills related to health benefit coverage for hearing aids and individualized education program team terminology. Rep. Johnson also filed bills relating to mental illness, respectful statutory language, and the Texas Compassionate Use Program.
Student Advocates: The following lawmakers were honored for their exemplary strides in advocating for the rights of students with disabilities in Texas.
- Rep. Dr. Alma Allen filed House Bill (HB) 773, which would have cracked down on school-initiated undocumented early pick-ups, and other bills related to school disciplinary practices.
- Rep. Lacey Hull authored the No Kids in Cuffs legislation, banning the use of restraint against certain students, and several bills relating to special education and school discipline.
- Sen. José Menéndez authored multiple bills relating to education that would have provided more access for students with disabilities.
- Rep. John Raney authored a pair of bills relating to higher education opportunities for students with disabilities.
- Sen. Royce West authored the Senate versions of the No Kids in Cuffs bill and the statewide DD Coordinating Council bill. He also filed several other pieces of disability-related legislation, including a measure to establish a social studies curriculum on the history of people with disabilities.
Rising Stars: Rising Stars are lawmakers still somewhat new to the legislature who authored and helped progress bills related to disability advocacy.
- Rep. Elizabeth “Liz” Campos authored HB 4702, which would have established Medicaid reimbursement for DD peer support services. In her second term at the Capitol, she also filed bills relating to the regulation of assisted living facilities.
- Sen. Morgan LaMantia, in her first session in Austin, authored legislation to provide information to students on the Driving with a Disability program. She carried a variety of other disability-related bills, including health benefit coverage for autism services and the use of the school safety allotment for mental health services.
- Rep. Mihaela Plesa successfully carried an amendment to add more funding for Early Childhood Intervention services. A freshman lawmaker, she registered as a joint or coauthor for numerous disability-related bills.
Cross-Disability Champions: Cross-Disability Champions are legislators who went above and beyond in advocating for the rights of Texans with DD in multiple topic areas.
- Rep. Mary González authored numerous pieces of disability-related legislation on topics such as inclusive child care, emergency preparedness for students with disabilities, and co-navigator services for individuals who are Deaf-blind.
- Rep. Toni Rose authored legislation to establish a statewide DD Coordinating Committee. She also authored a bill relating to the prohibition of the use of the death penalty against those with severe mental illness.
Lifetime Champions: TCDD issued Lifetime Champions recognitions for legislators who have built a legacy of improving the lives of Texans with DD through legislation.
- Rep. Senfronia Thompson has served in the Texas House for fifty years and has been a consistent advocate for people with disabilities. In the 88th legislative session, she authored bills related to the personal needs allowance for residents of long-term care facilities, a death penalty ban for people with intellectual disabilities, and cameras in the classroom.
- Sen. Judith Zaffirini authored numerous disability-related bills, touching on topics such as peer support, guardianship, voting access, and higher education. Over the course of her tenure in the Senate, she has been one of the most prominent legislative leaders on disability policy.
Staff TCDD Legislative Champions: Staff members play a critical role in the policymaking process. The following honorees distinguished themselves by working closely with disability advocates, providing information and updates on key pieces of legislation, participating in TCDD events, and serving as helpful resources throughout the session. Staff members recognized as TCDD Legislative Champions are:
- Adoneca Fortier, Legislative Director, Rep. Dr. Alma Allen
- Amanda Rodriguez, Legislative Director, Rep. Jarvis Johnson
- Cade Treadway, Chief of Staff, Rep. Toni Rose
- Clay Cortez, Legislative Director, Rep. Josey Garcia
- Karrol Rimal, Chief of Staff, Rep. Mihaela Plesa
- Ted Raab, Legislative Director, Rep. Mary González
About TCDD Legislative Champions
Following each legislative session in Texas, TCDD recognizes a list of lawmakers who went above and beyond in actively supporting legislation to benefit the lives of people with DD. The program began in 2019 following the 86th regular session. In 2021, the program expanded to also include legislative staff. The Council approves the acknowledgments following each session. The program recognizes noteworthy efforts at the Capitol and strengthens relationships for future sessions.