The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) has recognized a group of lawmakers and legislative staff members as TCDD Legislative Champions for their efforts on disability issues during the 87th Texas Legislature.
Legislative Champion Lawmakers
Three lawmakers were honored for their work on measures to improve inclusion, remove barriers, and promote an increased quality of life for Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
Rep. Alex Dominguez (House District 37, Brownsville) authored proposals to increase accessibility throughout Texas. House Bill (HB) 24 would have provided funding for an inclusive and accessible playground in each of the state’s independent school districts. He also supported a measure to improve the enforcement of accessible parking violations (HB 2309) and modified the bill to more closely align to stakeholder recommendations on the topic. Additionally, Dominguez was the House sponsor of Senate Bill (SB) 776, which requires the University Interscholastic League to create an adaptive sports program.
Rep. Mary González (House District 75, El Paso County) has been a longtime advocate for disability issues in Texas, particularly within education. She helped pass HB 159, which will improve staff training and development for educators to serve all students more effectively. González served as the House sponsor for the COVID-19 Special Education Recovery Act (SB 89), which requires a school district to prepare a supplement to the written statement of a child’s individualized education program (IEP) for school years impacted by the pandemic. Some of her other disability-related bills included:
- HB 828, which would have required disability studies as a part of the enrichment curriculum for public schools;
- HB 1163, to prohibit the use of restraints on public school students receiving special education services; and
- HB 168, to prevent childcare providers from discriminating based on disability while also improving services for children with disabilities.
Sen. José Menéndez (Senate District 26, San Antonio) authored bills that would positively impact the disability community. Most prominently, he passed SB 89, the COVID-19 Special Education Recovery Act, which requires schools to provide an IEP supplement for students who were enrolled in special education during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was the Senate sponsor of HB 2107, which allows outpatient services to be provided to children who are unable to participate in juvenile court proceedings due to an intellectual disability. Sen. Menéndez also filed proposals to:
- modify the definition of the term “exploitation” to improve the investigation of exploitation against older adults and people with disabilities (SB 2037);
- establish the Mental Illness and IDD Advisory Council (SB 2074); and
- identify a liaison for special education students (SB 88).
Legislative Champion Staff Members
Since 2019, TCDD has recognized lawmakers as Legislative Champions to celebrate outstanding leadership and progress on issues that matter to people with IDD and their families. This year, legislative staff members were also recognized as an acknowledgment of the critical role they play in the policymaking process.
Staff 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.
Eight legislative staff members were recognized this year as Legislative Champions:
- Alison Brock, senior policy aide for Sen. Lois Kolkhorst
- Allison Heinrich, legislative director for Rep. John Bucy III
- Alvaro Diaz, legislative aide for Sen. Judith Zaffirini
- Amanda Danielle González, legislative director for Rep. Armando Martinez
- Jim Johnson, chief of staff for Rep. James Frank
- Lillian Garvens, legislative aide for Rep. Gene Wu
- Logan Davidson, legislative director for Rep. Alex Dominguez
- Ted Raab, legislative director for Rep. Mary González
TCDD is grateful for the important contributions of these Legislative Champions in helping to create a more inclusive, accessible, safe, and equitable Texas for all.
Texas lawmakers convene for legislative sessions every two years. TCDD monitors legislative activities that could impact disability-related programs and services. To learn more about legislation and disability issues from the 87th Texas Legislature in 2021, see 87th Legislative Session. Stay up to date on disability policymaking activity by subscribing to our newsletter and connecting with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.