Texas Legislative News: Feb. 27, 2023

TX Legislative News
TX Legislative NEWS FEAT
Welcome to the latest edition of Texas Legislative News for the 88th Texas Legislature. In this weekly feature, we provide information on disability-related issues being considered at the State Capitol. We also include overviews of how lawmakers conduct business and provide details on upcoming TCDD events.  With committees now appointed in both the House and Senate, most of them held hearings during the past week or scheduled hearings over the next few days. These first hearings generally consist of invited testimony from agencies the committees oversee. However, some committees are already considering legislation, and the rest will soon do the same.

Senate Finance Considers Service Funding

The Senate Finance Committee took public testimony on Article II of Senate Bill (SB) 1, the general appropriations bill, on Feb. 21. Article II provides funding for the state’s health and human service agencies. Numerous disability advocates gave testimony during the hearing, including TCDD Policy Analyst Lauren Gerken, who commented on funding levels for early childhood intervention services. A video of the hearing, which lasted more than eight hours, can be found on the Senate website. TCDD Public Policy Director Scott Daigle also attended the Feb. 21 hearing and submitted written testimony to the committee on community attendant wages. Daigle posted a short video about the experience that provides a detailed description of arriving at the Capitol, entering the building, heading to the committee hearing room, and registering as a witness. The video can be found on our Instagram and our YouTube channel. If you’d like to give remarks at an upcoming hearing but aren’t sure how to craft your comments, we’ve created a My Testimony Blueprint (PDF) that can be used as a framework. For more legislative advocacy resources, visit our website.

Hearings To Watch

The following section includes some of the hearings we’re monitoring this week. During these hearings, legislative committees may consider important disability-related bills. You can find live and archived broadcasts of committee hearings on the House and Senate websites. The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning, Feb. 28. The committee will discuss the following notable bills:
  • House Bill (HB) 381 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, relating to the use of the death penalty for a capital offense committed by a person with an intellectual disability.
  • HB 393 by Rep. Craig Goldman, relating to restitution payments for the support of a child whose parent or guardian is a victim of intoxication manslaughter.

Bill Filing Continues

About 4,200 bills have been filed for lawmakers to consider in the coming months. Here are some recently filed proposals related to disability issues:
  • HB 2526 by Rep. Liz Campos, relating to the personal needs allowance for Medicaid recipients who are residents of long-term care facilities
  • HB 2548 by Rep. Abel Herrero, relating to designating Dec. 8 as Special Hearts Day
  • HB 2618 by Rep. Cody Vasut, relating to the noncommercial taking of shrimp using mechanical means by a person with a disability
  • HB 2631 by Rep. Jolanda Jones, relating to the withdrawal or revocation of an athletic scholarship by a public institution of higher education on the basis of a student athlete’s injury, illness, or disability
  • HB 2756 by Rep. Ramon Romero Jr., relating to the exclusion of resources in determining eligibility for financial assistance and supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits
  • HB 2780 by Rep. Jeff Leach, relating to the reporting of mental health and intellectual disability information with respect to children for federal firearm background checks
  • HB 2803 by Rep. Terri Leo-Wilson, relating to a program to serve the needs of students who receive special education services
  • HB 2817 by Rep. Jacey Jetton, relating to establishing a program allowing students who are educationally disadvantaged, have  disabilities, or have failed assessment instruments to use state money or money the state receives from gifts and non-federal grants to pursue educational alternatives to public schools
  • HB 2831 by Rep. Vikki Goodwin, relating to the terminology used to refer to disabilities in determining eligibility for special education services in public schools
  • HB 2836 by Rep. Armando Walle, relating to eligibility for supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits
  • HB 2844 by Rep. Gene Wu, relating to voting by a voter unable to enter a polling place
  • HB 2849 by Rep. Mihaela Plesa, relating to information about free or low-cost cellphones and free or low-cost cellphone service plans provided to residents of nursing and assisted living facilities
  • SB 1103 by Sen. Charles Perry, relating to the transfer of real property from the Health and Human Services Commission to the StarCare Specialty Health System
  • SB 1184 by Sen. Sarah Eckhardt, relating to the reporting of mental health and intellectual disability information with respect to children for federal firearm background checks
  • SB 1202 by Sen. Borris Miles, relating to emergency generators or other power sources for nursing facilities and assisted living facilities

TCDD Policy Staff Spotlight

In this update, we highlight a member of the TCDD Policy Team. This week, we feature Policy Analyst Sabrina Gonzalez Saucedo.
TCDD Policy Analyst Sabrina Gonzalez Saucedo

How long have you been at TCDD?
This year will mark my third anniversary with TCDD. This will be my second legislative session with the Council.

What issues are you tracking for TCDD?
This session, I am tracking bills related to education, criminal justice, housing, and more! 

Is there a specific bill or topic that you’re particularly interested in? Education is the policy bucket I focus on the most. This session, I’m particularly focused on bills related to the restraint of students with disabilities in schools. When not working, you can be found…? When I’m not working, you can find me roaming the aisles of Target or Home Goods. On weekends, you might find me visiting family down in the Rio Grande Valley. What is your favorite TV show? My favorite feel-good TV show is “Parks & Recreation.”

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