Press Conference on Harmful Restraint PracticesOn Monday, Jan. 30, a group of parents, advocates, and state lawmakers attended a press conference demanding an end to the use of harmful restraint of Texas students with disabilities. A report released in December 2020 by Disability Rights Texas said school districts across Texas use physical restraints against students with disabilities far more often than against their non-disabled peers. Speakers at the event included parents of children who have been traumatized, injured, and even killed by such techniques. Texas State Reps. John Bucy III, Mary González, Lacey Hull, and James Talarico also provided remarks, discussing legislation that they hope to see passed in the current session. Parents and advocates are calling for a number of measures to be taken, including:
- Improved independent investigations by the Department of Family and Protective Services of alleged abuse in public schools;
- Heightened accountability for school staff that engage in violent and harmful treatment of students with disabilities;
- Better utilization of video surveillance in classrooms with vulnerable students with disabilities;
- Tighter state regulation of dangerous restraint practices in schools; and
- Greater investment in proactive and positive behavioral interventions, services, and supports in schools.
Bill Filing ContinuesOver 2,700 bills have been filed for lawmakers to consider in the coming months. Recently filed proposals related to disability issues include:
- House Bill (HB) 1798 by Rep. Donna Howard, relating to the development of a strategic plan for home and community-based services provided under Medicaid and the child health plan program and the establishment of an advisory committee on home and community-based services.
- HB 1803 by Rep. Toni Rose, relating to the eligibility of certain individuals to purchase Medicare supplement benefit plans.
- HB 1805 by Rep. Stephanie Klick, relating to the medical use of low-THC cannabis by patients with certain medical conditions.
- HB 1814 by Rep. Vikki Goodwin, relating to creating a special education certification to teach students with disabilities.
- HB 1867 by Rep. Liz Campos, relating to the regulation of referral agencies for assisted living facilities, providing a civil penalty.
- HB 1926 by Rep. Lacey Hull, relating to the expiration date of the supplemental special education services program.
- Senate Bill (SB) 661 by Sen. Morgan LaMantia, relating to the notification of a peace officer through an indication associated with vehicle registration that the vehicle owner may be transporting a person with a disability.
- SB 663 by Sen. Charles Perry, relating to the development of a strategic plan for home and community-based services provided under Medicaid and the child health plan program and the establishment of an advisory committee on home and community-based services.
- SB 670 by Sen. Royce West, relating to the revision of the essential knowledge and skills of the public school social studies curricula to include instruction relating to the history of persons with disabilities.
- SB 681 by Sen. Nathan Johnson, relating to the applicability of certain laws regarding the occupational licensing of individuals with criminal convictions to the licensing of certain long-term healthcare facility personnel.
CTD Raise Your Voice! SeriesBeginning Feb. 13, CTD will hold a weekly discussion of policy developments and ways to take action during the 88th Texas Legislature. Raise Your Voice! events are designed to provide a functional understanding of the state’s legislative process while connecting emerging and seasoned advocates. These sessions also give CTD insight into the needs and concerns of Texans with disabilities outside their usual circles. Each week, you can expect:
- CTD’s advocacy team to give a brief update on what they’re working on;
- Details about steps you can take during the week to advance priorities for Texans with disabilities; and
- Interaction with CTD staff and each other in the main room, breakout rooms, and chat.
TCDD Policy Staff SpotlightIn this update, we highlight a member of the TCDD Policy Team. This week, we feature Policy Analyst Lauren Gerken.
How long have you been at TCDD?
I was a fellow through a TCDD Policy Fellow grant for a year and a half. I’ve been a TCDD policy analyst for 2.5 years.
What issues are you tracking for TCDD this session?
I’m tracking inclusive childcare, guardianship, and opportunities to expand self-employment for people with disabilities.
When not working, you can be found…?
When I’m not working, you can find me working towards my Ph.D. at Texas State in Adult, Professional, and Community Education on writing creatively.
Who are your favorite musicians/bands?
I love Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac, Coldplay, Lizzo, and Ella Fitzgerald.
To stay up to date on how disability-related issues are addressed by the Legislature, subscribe to our newsletter. To receive additional notifications, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
No Updates Next Week
Due to the TCDD quarterly meeting this week and the Presidents’ Day holiday on Monday, Feb. 20, our next Texas Legislative News feature will be published on Tuesday, Feb. 21.