During the interim between each legislative session, the Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House issue charges to committees to study key issues and research information that will help guide future legislative decisions. Over 300 interim charges were issued to the 85th Texas Legislature.
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) reviewed all the interim charges and has identified the charges that could impact people with disabilities and their families. The seven interim charges that could have the most impact are listed below:
- Early Childhood Intervention Program: The House Appropriations Committee will examine the Early Childhood Intervention Program (ECI) in Texas, including a review of historical funding levels, programmatic changes, challenges providers face within the program, and utilization trends. The committee will evaluate ECI’s impact on reducing the long-term costs of public education and health care. The committee will also identify solutions to strengthen ECI.
- Educator Preparation Programs: The House Higher Education and Public Education Committees will review current data available to the public about Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) and make recommendations to ensure the data is transparent, user-friendly, and actionable. The committees will review the current EPP accountability system and recommend any new indicators or changes, including evaluating the ability of programs to meet the workforce needs of school districts by preparing teachers for high-needs areas. The committees will determine ways to measure the effectiveness of teachers prepared by individual programs. For traditional EPPs, the committees will make recommendations on how to more fully involve boards of regents in an effort to elevate the importance of teacher preparation within state institutions. The committees will also examine current joint partnerships between EPPs and public schools to meet regional workforce needs, and make recommendations on how to scale these partnerships. (This is a joint charge with the House Public Education Committee’s Subcommittee on Teacher Quality.)
- High Quality Education Expansion Opportunities: The Senate Education Committee will examine high-quality campus/programs in Texas and other states and make recommendations on incentives to expand high-performing campuses and programs. The committee’s review should include but not be limited to program and course variety; unique public school models; transfer or open-enrollment policies within a district; collaboration between districts or public charters; online learning; and whether children with special educational needs, children of military families, and student populations in chronically high poverty areas should have additional options to meet their unique educational needs.
- Medicaid Managed Care Quality and Compliance: The House Appropriations Committee will monitor the ongoing implementation of Senate Bill (SB) 20 (84R), SB 533 (85R), and SB 255 (85R), as well as Article IX, Sections 7.04, 7.10, and 7.12 of the General Appropriations Act. The committee will study the processes by which state agencies award, execute, manage, and monitor state contracts, and make recommendations on whether any changes are necessary to safeguard the best interest of the public and state. The committee will evaluate measures utilized to determine vendor performance, and make recommendations on how to improve vendor selection and performance. When reviewing the Health and Human Services Commission’s (HHSC) managed care contracts, the committee will determine if HHSC has adequate data, staff, and processes to provide appropriately rigorous contract oversight, including but not limited to the use of outcome metrics. The committee will also consider whether HHSC properly enforces contractual sanctions when managed care organizations (MCOs) are out of compliance, as well as how HHSC uses Medicaid participants’ complaints regarding access to care to improve quality.
- Medicaid Managed Care Quality and Improvement: The House Human Services Committee will review the history and any future roll-out of Medicaid managed care in Texas. The committee will determine the impact managed care has had on the quality and cost of care. In the review, the committee will determine initiatives that MCOs have implemented to improve quality of care, whether access to care and network adequacy contractual requirements are sufficient, and whether MCOs have improved the coordination of care. The committee will also determine provider and Medicaid participants’ satisfaction within STAR, STAR Health, STAR Kids, and STAR+Plus managed care programs. In addition, the committee will review HHSC’s oversight of MCOs and make recommendations for any needed improvement.
Medicare and Medicaid Housing and Natural Disasters: The House Human Services Committee will study the impact of Hurricane Harvey and the response to the storm on individuals living in long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, state supported living centers, licensed community group homes, and children in the foster care system. The committee will identify and recommend necessary solutions to ensure appropriate disaster-related protocols are in place to keep vulnerable Texans protected. It will also identify any challenges state agencies experienced in responding to the storm or during recovery efforts.
Students with Disabilities and Public Schools: The House Public Education Committee will examine programs in public schools that have proven results meeting the needs of and improving student achievement for students with disabilities, with an emphasis on programs specializing in autism, dysgraphia, and dyslexia. The committee will recommend ways to support and scale innovative programs for these students, including providing supplemental services, or incentivizing public-private partnerships or inter-district and charter school collaborations. The committee will also monitor the implementation and funding for the pilot programs authorized in House Bill (HB) 21 (85R) and review the Texas Education Agency’s compliance with SB 160 (85R), which prohibits caps on the number of students who receive special education services.
Visit the House Key Interim Charges and the Senate Key Interim Charges webpages for information about all 66 interim charges we identified that could impact people with disabilities and their families.
TCDD will alert subscribers via TCDD eNews and followers via Twitter.com/TxCDD when committee hearings that address key interim charges are scheduled. For the most up-to-date legislative hearing information, visit the Texas Legislature Online Committees webpage.