Texas Legislative News: April 23

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With the Texas Legislature’s 86th Regular Session currently underway, the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) will be providing regular updates on what’s happening at the Capitol.

TCDD Testimony

TCDD was back at the Capitol last week, as Council and staff members offered testimony on three individual bills.

Lora Taylor, TCDD Council Member and Public Policy Committee Chair, provided remarks to the House Public Health Committee on House Bill (HB) 3994 by Rep. Dwayne Bohac. The measure, which was recently featured as a TCDD Bill of the Week, would expand access to van-accessible parking at health facilities that provide rehabilitation or physical therapy services. Lora discussed the difficulties that she has faced when trying to find parking at facilities that provide services to her daughter.

L. Taylor and Rep. Lucio III
TCDD Council Member Lora Taylor with Rep. Eddie Lucio III, a member of the House Public Health Committee.

Linda Logan, TCDD Public Policy Specialist, submitted written remarks on the following bills:

  • Senate Bill (SB) 562 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, which would modify certain criminal or juvenile procedures regarding persons who are or may be persons with a mental illness or intellectual disability.
  • HB 3630 by Rep. Morgan Meyer, which would prohibit certain behavioral interventions in public schools.

You can read Linda’s testimony here.

Partners in Policymaking Graduation

Texas Partners in Policymaking, the TCDD-funded advanced leadership development training program for self-advocates and parents of children with developmental disabilities (DD), recently held its graduation ceremony at the State Capitol. The nearly 40 graduates included members of a statewide class as well as participants from a regional class that was based in the Rio Grande Valley. Rep. John Zerwas, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, provided remarks at the event.

To learn more about the Texas Partners in Policymaking program go here.

Disability-Related Bills Advance at the Legislature

On Wednesday, April 24, the Texas House will take up and consider HB 3165 by Rep. Tom Oliverson, regarding an occupational and life skills associate degree program offered by the Lone Star College System District. The program would award an associate degree to students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) upon completion of the lifePATH Program.

The following bills recently passed in the Texas Senate and will now move over to the House for consideration:

  • SB 54 by Sen. Zaffirini, relating to a study regarding the appropriate methods and standards to evaluate certain students participating in regional day school programs for the deaf.
  • SB 281 by Sen. Zaffirini, relating to the use of certain language regarding a person who is deaf or hard of hearing in statutes or resolutions.
  • SB 753 by Sen. Joan Huffman, relating to wage requirements for community rehabilitation programs participating in the purchasing from people with disabilities program. This is the Senate companion to HB 885, which was featured as a TCDD Bill of the Week.
  • SB 895 by Sen. Zaffirini, relating to the language acquisition of children eight years of age or younger who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The following bills recently passed in the Texas House and now move over to the Senate for consideration:

  • HB 1735 by Rep. Donna Howard, relating to sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking at public and private postsecondary educational institutions; providing an administrative penalty.
  • HB 3116 by Rep. James White, relating to the establishment of a task force to conduct a comprehensive study on best practice standards for the detention of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Hearings to Watch

Below is a sample of the hearings TCDD is 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 or Senate websites.

The House Public Education Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning. They will discuss the following notable bills:

  • HB 4030 by Rep. Alex Dominguez, which would require the Texas Education Agency to distribute funds to each school district to provide at least one playground in the district that is inclusive and accessible for students with disabilities.
  • HB 4302 by Rep. Gary VanDeaver, which would place restrictions on the issuance of subpoenas for video or audio surveillance of special education settings.
  • HB 4313 by Rep. Dominguez, which would require the University Interscholastic League to establish an adaptive sports program, to ensure that students with disabilities have an opportunity to participate in team athletic activities.

The House Human Services Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning. They will take up the following bills:

  • HB 1016 by Rep. Mando Martinez, which would require the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to determine Medicaid eligibility by a certain date following the submission of an application for the STAR+PLUS home and community based services (HCBS) program.
  • HB 3746 by Rep. Matt Krause, which would allow the current or prospective foster parent of a child who is medically fragile to examine the health history records of the child.
  • HB 4400 and House Joint Resolution 141, both by Rep. Julie Johnson, which would propose a constitutional amendment authorizing the issuance of up to $10 million in general obligation bonds to conduct a pilot program to create additional housing for individuals with IDD.
  • HB 4450 by Rep. Mary González, which would require a child-care facility or registered family home to report to HHSC each suspension or expulsion of a child attending a facility or home.

The House International Relations and Economic Development Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning. They will discuss HB 3916 by Rep. Joe Deshotel, which would require HHSC to institute a competitive and integrated employment initiative for individuals receiving services under Medicaid waiver programs.

The Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations will meet on Tuesday morning. Among the bills to be discussed is SB 1118 by Sen. Eddie Lucio, which would establish a grant program to modify the homes of people with disabilities in order to increase the accessibility of, eliminate life-threatening hazards within, or correct unsafe living conditions within the homes. The program would be named in memory of Amy Young, who once served as a staff member for TCDD.

The House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning. Its agenda includes the following measures:

  • HB 3021 by Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos, which would require the development of public information related to provisions that may be included in protective orders, such as prohibitions on the removal of companion or assistance animals.
  • HB 4562 by Rep. Will Metcalf, which would create a new alternative to guardianship called “parental administration.” Under the terms of the bill, a court would be allowed to appoint a parent of an incapacitated adult as a parental administrator upon the determination that the appointment is in the best interest of the incapacitated adult.

The Senate Education Committee will have a hearing on Tuesday morning, as well. Its agenda will include SB 293 by Sen. Lucio, which would establish improved standards on proactive and flexible teaching techniques in order to provide a more inclusive, supportive, and barrier-free educational environment for students with developmental, physical, and intellectual disabilities. This is the Senate companion to HB 116, which was featured as a TCDD Bill of the Week.

The Senate Committee on Criminal Justice will hold a hearing on Wednesday morning. The list of bills to be considered includes SB 803 by Sen. José Rodríguez, which would expand the pool of people who receive a written assessment regarding a defendant suspected of having a mental illness or an intellectual disability.

The House Committee on Ways and Means will also meet on Wednesday morning. It will discuss the following bills:

  • HB 313 by Rep. Howard, which would create a sales tax exemption for child and adult diapers.
  • HB 3491 by Rep. Sheryl Cole, which would create a sales tax exemption for items used to assist people with IDD, such as assistive technologies or adaptive equipment.

The House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence will meet on Thursday afternoon. Its agenda includes HB 3926 by Rep. Tony Tinderholt, which would make it a criminal offense for a person to intentionally provide false medical history to medical personnel in order to obtain medical treatment for a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual. It would be punishable as a third-degree felony.

Stay Informed

To stay up-to-date regarding how disability-related issues are being addressed by the legislature, subscribe to TCDD eNews or follow us on Twitter.