The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) has recognized four lawmakers as TCDD Legislative Champions based on their work during the 86th Texas legislative session in 2019. Each lawmaker made significant contributions to legislation and policy efforts to build a better Texas for people with developmental disabilities (DD). The lawmakers were honored during TCDD’s quarterly council and committee meetings, which were held virtually from Feb. 9-12, 2021.
Read on to learn about the TCDD Legislative Champions and their work on disability-related issues during the 86th legislative session.
Rep. Victoria Neave, House District 107 (D-Mesquite)
Neave and her staff worked closely with TCDD staff to pass House Bill (HB) 4531 on sexual assault-related crisis services for adults under guardianship. Neave was the House sponsor on Senate Bill (SB) 586 to require that education and training for peace officers regarding interviewing of victims of sexual assault or other sex offenses include the use of best practices and trauma-informed response techniques. Additionally, Neave sponsored legislation that proposed an avenue for the restoration of rights and termination of guardianship, and she filed a bill to require captioning via Communication Access Real-time Translation for video broadcasts of government meetings.
Rep. John Raney, House District 14 (R-Bryan/College Station)
Raney was the House sponsor of SB 753, which established wage requirements for community rehabilitation programs participating in the Texas Purchasing from People with Disabilities Program. Raney was also the lead author of HB 643, which made it easier to apply for an accessible parking placard.
Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, Senate District 18 (R-Brenham)
As the chair of both the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and the Senate Finance Subcommittee, which deals with the state’s health and human services budget, Kolkhorst helped facilitate the funding and advancement of legislation on a variety of DD-related issues. Kolkhorst was the Senate sponsor of HB 4533, which created a pilot program through the STAR+PLUS Medicaid managed care program to evaluate acute care and long-term services and supports for people with DD. Kolkhorst added language to the bill relating to dental services.
Sen. Judith Zaffirini, Senate District 21 (D-Laredo)
For over three decades, Zaffirini has authored and sponsored legislation that has advanced the human rights and civil rights of Texans with disabilities. During the 86th legislative session, Zaffirini helped pass legislation that:
- established a guardianship abuse, fraud, and exploitation deterrence program (SB 31);
- codified the rights of sexual assault victims who are under guardianship (HB 4531);
- updated the Texas Education Code to remove outdated references and include person-first respectful language (HB 965);
- improved training for certain professionals on how to interact and communicate with a person with autism or other developmental disability (HB 1386); and
- increased the personal needs allowance for those providing guardianship services (SB 1784).
Additionally, Zaffirini authored bills to establish a competitive, integrated employment initiative for certain Medicaid recipients and to allow people with DD to pay for peer support services through Medicaid.
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.
Every two years, Texas lawmakers convene for a 140-day regular legislative session. TCDD monitors legislative activities that could impact disability-related programs and services. To stay informed during the 87th Texas Legislature — which began on Jan. 12, 2021, and will conclude on May 31, 2021 — see our updates, subscribe to TCDD eNews, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.