Written Testimony on House Bill 1675

Public Policy Input — 2021

 
 
TCDD logo   Mary Durheim, Chair
Robert Schier III, Vice Chair
Beth Stalvey, MPH, PhD, Executive Director



6201 E. Oltorf, Suite 600
Austin, TX 78741-7509
Email: policy@tcdd.texas.gov
Website: www.tcdd.texas.gov
  Phone: (512) 437-5432
Toll Free: (800) 262-0334
Fax: (512) 437-5434

HOUSE JUDICIARY & CIVIL JURISPRUDENCE COMMITTEE
Written Testimony on House Bill 1675
GUARDIANSHIP OF WARDS
WITH PROFOUND INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES

Chair Leach and Members of the Committee,

Thank you for taking the time to read my testimony on House Bill 1675, governing guardianships of wards with profound intellectual disabilities who are minors or were minors at the time guardianship proceedings commenced.

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.

TCDD is concerned that HB 1675 creates a separate guardian type that eliminates due process rights of individuals and decreases court oversight. Among our concerns, the bill:

  • Runs counter to the recent guardianship system reforms enacted in Texas that recognize the importance of self-determination for persons with disabilities, including persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD);
  • Establishes a new category of guardian that appears to be a mechanism to undermine selfdetermination of persons with disabilities when they reach majority age;
  • Allows for the appointment of a guardian without an investigation or a hearing and thereby enables the potentially indefinite restriction of liberty of the individual with a disability with no observance of Constitutional due process rights;
  • Includes no clear mechanism for appealing the Court’s determination that an Independent Guardian is necessary;
  • Allows the court to make the determination of whether alternatives to guardianship were considered and determined not to be feasible, as required with an application for guardianship, without an investigation or hearing;
  • Eliminates effective and timely court oversight by limiting the annual reporting and review requirements for guardians to no more frequently than once every five years, which directly contradicts the current trend to require more oversight of guardianships by courts and the Office of Court Administration; and
  • Is silent as to whether the Bill of Rights of Wards applies to persons with Independent Guardian.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide this testimony today. In recent years, Texas has made important strides to ensure the rights and safety of people under guardianship. This legislation would negate these improvements for an especially vulnerable population deserving of enhanced, not diminished, protections.

In light of the loss of Constitutional protections to which minors with IDD would otherwise be entitled, we respectfully urge reconsideration of HB 1675. If you have any questions or we can provide additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

Linda Logan, MPAff
Senior Public Policy Analyst
Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities