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.
Last week, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced his appointments for Senate committees in the regular session of the 88th Texas Legislature. There were few surprises among the appointments as most of the committees will keep the same chairs they had during the previous session.
The Senate Finance Committee, which oversees the chamber’s work on the state budget, is among the committees with new leadership. Longtime committee chair Sen. Jane Nelson did not run for reelection and was recently appointed to be the new Texas secretary of state. In anticipation of Nelson’s departure, Sen. Joan Huffman was given the chair of the committee a few months ago and will continue in that position throughout the session. Huffman’s promotion created a vacancy in the Senate Jurisprudence Committee, which will now be chaired by Sen. Bryan Hughes.
It will likely take a couple of weeks before the Senate committees start meeting regularly to consider legislation. But two committees are wasting no time. The Senate Finance Committee scheduled hearings over the next few weeks, and the Senate Special Committee on Redistricting has already held four hearings.
Committee appointments for the House are expected in another week or two.
Medicaid Waiver Waitlist Maps
As of Jan. 31, 2022, over 170,000 Texans are on waitlists for home and community-based service waivers. Funding for more waiver slots is sure to be a topic of discussion throughout the legislative session.
The Arc of Texas has produced helpful maps showing how many Texans on waiver lists live within each House, Senate, and Congressional district in the state. Unsure of the district you’re in? You can check on the Capitol website.
Bill Filing Continues
About 2,500 bills have been filed for lawmakers to consider in the coming months. Here are a few recently filed proposals related to disability issues:
- House Bill (HB) 1493 by Rep. Mary González, relating to accommodations for the assessment of public school students receiving special education services
- HB 1593 by Rep. Liz Campos, relating to infection prevention and control programs and other measures for communicable diseases at long-term care facilities and authorizing an administrative penalty
- HB 1604 by Rep. Mary González, relating to a report by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board regarding students with disabilities in higher education
- HB 1643 by Rep. Cody Vasut, relating to exemptions granted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to people with disabilities and creating a criminal offense
- HB 1717 by Rep. Ana Hernandez, relating to the consideration of ownership interests of people with disabilities in determining whether a business is a historically underutilized business for purposes of state contracting
- HB 1781 by Rep. Gina Hinojosa, relating to evaluation under the state accountability system of school district campuses that enroll students who receive special education services
- Senate Bill (SB) 576 by Sen. José Menéndez, relating to the definition of exploitation for purposes of investigating reports of exploitation by providers against older adults and people with disabilities receiving services from those providers
- SB 652 by Sen. Charles Schwertner, relating to the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman
- SB 656 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, relating to an optional health condition or disability designation on a driver’s license or personal identification certificate
Texas Partners in Policymaking
Texas Partners in Policymaking, an advanced leadership training program coordinated by TCDD, is accepting applications for its 2023-2024 program year. The program helps self-advocates and family members acquire skills and connections to take their disability advocacy to the next level. The deadline to apply is March 25.
The program consists of six two-day training sessions held monthly from September 2023 to March 2024. Sessions may be held in person or online via video conference. To learn more about the program and to apply, visit Texas Partners in Policymaking.
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