Texas Legislative News: March 5

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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: Senate State Affairs Committee (SB 71)

Last week, TCDD Public Policy & Communications Specialist Ashley Ford provided testimony to the Senate State Affairs Committee on SB 71. The bill, by Sen. Jane Nelson, would establish a statewide telehealth center for sexual assault forensic medical examination.

Ashley asked committee members to take into consideration the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) when establishing the center. As was detailed in an NPR series last year, people with intellectual disabilities are seven times more likely to be sexually assaulted than people without disabilities, and health professionals serving this population may require additional training to conduct an effective forensic exam. You can watch Ashley’s testimony here (beginning at the 2:31:23 mark) or you can read it on the TCDD website.

Ashley Ford on rightTCDD Public Policy & Communications Specialist Ashley Ford (right) providing testimony to the Senate State Affairs Committee.

IDD Strategic Plan

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission recently released an update to its Statewide Behavioral Health Strategic Plan, a five-year strategic plan to address gaps in the mental health and substance abuse services system. When compiling the update, stakeholders across Texas recognized the unique challenges faced by individuals with IDD and identified a need to develop a Statewide IDD Strategic Plan to focus on the IDD system across the state. The Foundation for the Statewide IDD Strategic Plan is the first phase in the development of the full plan and is meant to provide an initial understanding of the Texas system for individuals with IDD. Once complete, this plan will help to inform and direct IDD policy at the agency and legislative levels for years to come.

The second phase will involve the development of the full Statewide IDD Strategic Plan beginning in Summer 2019. It will focus on the development of goals, objectives, and strategies to address identified gaps, short- and long-term goals, a timeline for implementation, and mechanisms to track outcomes. You can read the Statewide Behavioral Health Strategic Plan Update and Foundation for the IDD Strategic Plan here.

ICYMI: TCDD Bill of the Week

In case you missed it, TCDD kicked-off a new Bill of the Week feature where we highlight a noteworthy disability-related bill that is currently going through the legislative process. You can find our latest bill of the week here.

The Countdown

As of today – Tuesday, March 5 – there are 83 days left in the 140-day legislative session. Lawmakers wrap-up their business on Monday, May 27.