|Mary Durheim, Chair
Andrew D. Crim, Vice Chair
Beth Stalvey, MPH, PhD, Executive Director
|6201 E. Oltorf, Suite 600
Austin, TX 78741-7509
|Phone: (512) 437-5432
Toll Free: (800) 262-0334
Fax: (512) 437-5434
Senate State Affairs Committee
Written Testimony on Senate Bill 1783
April 25, 2019
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on Senate Bill 1783, which would amend current law relating to guardianships, alternatives to guardianship, and supports and services for incapacitated persons.
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) is established by state and federal law and is governed by 27 board members, appointed by the Governor, 60% of whom are individuals with developmental disabilities or family members of individuals with disabilities. TCDD’s purpose in law is to encourage policy change so that people with disabilities have opportunities to be fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.
The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000, Public Law 106-402, states that “disability is a natural part of the human experience that does not diminish the right of individuals with developmental disabilities to live independently, to exert control and choice over their own lives, and to fully participate in and contribute to their communities through full integration and inclusion….” It further states that individuals with disabilities have the right to appropriate treatment, services, and habilitation that are designed to maximize the potential of the individual and that are least restrictive of the individual’s personal liberty. These longstanding principles are also evident in state law (THSC Title 7, Chapter 592).
SB 1783 would enliven these laws as they relate to the issues that can arise when the need for guardianship is affected by the availability of services and supports that enable an individual to live independently. It would provide a statutory pathway for the termination of a guardianship for an incapacitated person who has the services and supports necessary to live independently and without further court involvement. It would also require courts to promote guardianship mediation to resolve family disputes, to avoid or minimize costs and conflict, and to explore less restrictive alternatives to guardianship as well as the availability of community supports and services. Lastly, the bill would provide a way to determine the court of jurisdiction in keeping with the best interests of the individual.
The opportunities and improvements SB 1783 would confer are based on federal and state law and consistent with TCDD goals.
Please contact me if I can provide additional information or be of other assistance. Thank you.
Linda Logan, MPAff
Public Policy Specialist
Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities