Texas Legislative News: April 19, 2021

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On Monday, April 12, the House Committee on Appropriations held a public hearing on Senate Bill (SB) 1, the Senate’s recently passed version of the state budget. As anticipated, the committee quickly swapped out the Senate language with the House’s draft and voted to recommend its consideration by the full body. The bill is now scheduled to be taken up on the House floor on Thursday, April 22. That debate is expected to be spread out over the full day and well into the night, as the members discuss numerous amendments to the measure.

As passed out of the Appropriations Committee, SB 1 would spend a total of nearly $248 billion over the next two years. This would represent a decrease of about $18 billion from the current biennium, and it allocates about $4 billion less than the Senate version. This disparity between the overall numbers in the House and Senate budgets is accounted for primarily through the House’s use of fewer federal dollars. However, as discussed in this Texas Tribune article, over $38 billion in federal stimulus money is not accounted for in SB 1, as lawmakers continue to determine whether they will accept the dollars and how to use them. As with the Senate version, the House bill also makes no appropriations using the Economic Stabilization Fund, or “Rainy Day Fund,” which is expected to have a balance of nearly $12 billion by the end of the next biennium.

In addition to straight allocations of funding, the budget is also comprised by “riders,” which are legislative directives on how an expenditure shall or shall not be used. For instance, a rider might require an agency to use a portion of its funding to conduct a study or produce a report that gathers specific data. A rider might also prohibit an agency from using funds for a specific purpose. Some examples of disability-related riders that are currently in the House budget include:

  • A requirement for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to post information on its website regarding Medicaid waiver interest lists, including number of individuals on each list, by years on the list; number of slots released; and the percent declined services or found to be ineligible for services at the end of the fiscal year
  • A direction that HHSC shall use some autism-related funding to provide support to the Texas Autism Research and Resource Center
  • A requirement that HHSC conduct an evaluation of staff compensation, turnover, and recruitment at state hospitals and state-supported living centers, and provide a report to the Legislative Budget Board and the Governor’s Office with findings and recommendations
  • A directive that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) continue to implement state-level professional development for school personnel and parents of students with autism, including a focus on identification of such students, and to expend up to $200,000 in each fiscal year for this purpose
  • Requiring the TEA set aside a certain portion of the special education allotment and transfer the funds to HHSC to support early childhood intervention eligibility determination and comprehensive transition services

A detailed summary of the House version of SB 1, prepared by the Legislative Budget Board, can be found here. As mentioned previously, the bill will be debated by the House later this week, and all amendments were required to be pre-filed to be eligible for consideration. The list of 240 pre-filed amendments can be found here.

Hearings to Watch

The following section includes a sample of the hearings that we are monitoring this week. During these hearings, legislative committees may consider important disability-related bills. To receive notifications about new hearings that are scheduled with short notice, follow us on Twitter. You can find live and archived broadcasts of committee hearings on the House and Senate websites.

The House Defense and Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing on Monday morning, April 19, on SB 792 by Sen. Donna Campbell, which relates to specialty license plates and parking placards for vehicles of certain disabled veterans.

The House Ways and Means Committee also held a hearing on Monday morning, April 19, on the following notable bills:

  • House Bill (HB) 1705 by Rep. Mike Schofield, which establishes a limitation on the total amount of ad valorem taxes that taxing units may impose on the residence homesteads of individuals who are disabled or elderly and their surviving spouses
  • HB 3437 by Rep. Craig Goldman, relating to the authority of a taxing unit other than a school district to establish a limitation on the amount of ad valorem taxes that the taxing unit may impose on the residence homesteads of individuals who are disabled or elderly and their surviving spouses
  • HB 3629 by Rep. Greg Bonnen, which relates to the date a deferral or abatement of the collection of ad valorem taxes on the residence homestead of an elderly or disabled person or disabled veteran expires

The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee held a hearing on Monday afternoon, April 19, on the following notable bills:

  • HB 869 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, which relates to the applicability of the death penalty to a capital offense committed by a person with an intellectual disability
  • HB 1636 by Rep. Carl Sherman, Sr., which would allow therapy or facility dogs to accompany a child or a person with a disability during testimony in certain criminal cases
  • HB 4486 by Rep. Ryan Guillen, which relates to procedures for identifying defendants suspected of having a mental illness or intellectual disability

The House Human Services Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning, April 20, on the following notable bills:

  • HB 3145 by Rep. Joe Deshotel, relating to Medicaid reimbursement for dental services provided to certain adults with disabilities
  • HB 3238 by Rep. Stephanie Klick, relating to the electronic Medicaid recipient directories maintained by Medicaid managed care organizations
  • HB 3761 by Rep. Ryan Guillen, which relates to the continuation of medical assistance for certain individuals, including those with disabilities

The House State Affairs Committee will also hold a hearing on Tuesday morning, April 20, on HB 4475 by Rep. Drew Darby. The bill relates to restoring electric service to certain vulnerable customers after a power outage.

The Senate Education Committee will also hold a hearing on Tuesday morning, April 20, on SB 1716 by Sen. Larry Taylor, which would establish a supplemental special education services and instructional materials program for certain public school students receiving special education services.

The House Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday afternoon, April 20, on HB 4520 by Rep. Penny Morales Shaw, relating to equitable representation in decision-making for transportation planning.

The House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday morning, April 21, to discuss the following notable bills:

  • HB 2439 by Rep. James White, relating to the appointment of a temporary guardian to receive certain social security benefits
  • HB 3318 by Rep. Victoria Neave, relating to guardianships, alternatives to guardianship, and supports and services for incapacitated persons
  • HB 3896 by Rep. John Smithee, relating to access to certain financial records by the guardianship abuse, fraud, and exploitation deterrence program
  • SB 626 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, relating to guardianships, management trusts, and certain other procedures and proceedings for persons who are incapacitated

The House Elections Committee will also hold a hearing on Wednesday morning, April 21, to consider HB 4322 by Rep. Jacey Jetton, relating to the location of a polling place. The bill’s provisions may impact voting access for people with disabilities.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will also hold a hearing on Wednesday morning, April 21, to consider HB 119 by Rep. Brooks Landgraf, which would prohibit organ transplant recipient discrimination on the basis of a disability. (HB 119 was previously highlighted as a TCDD Bill of the Week.)

Stay Informed

To stay up to date regarding how disability-related issues are being addressed by the Legislature, subscribe to TCDD eNews. On our website, you can find legislative resources and video updates from TCDD Policy Director Scott Daigle on what’s happening at the Capitol. To receive additional notifications, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.





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