With just three weeks left in the 87th Texas legislative session, most work is taking place on the House and Senate floors and, in some capacity, behind the scenes. Standing committees are still meeting and considering legislation, but now these gatherings will more often take place in formal meetings rather than public hearings.
A formal meeting can take place in a hearing room, a side room, or even at a legislator’s desk. The meetings will sometimes happen after a chamber adjourns, but with permission they can also take place while a chamber is in session.
During these formal meetings, lawmakers will typically consider pending business and vote on bills that have received public hearings. But in the waning days of the session, the meetings can also be used to consider companion legislation to bills that received public hearings. For instance, Senate Bill (SB) 672, relating to Medicaid coverage of certain collaborative care management services, was considered in a formal meeting rather than a public hearing because its companion, House Bill (HB) 2834, had already received a public hearing.
As committee input shifts away from a public forum, it becomes even more important for advocates to reach out directly to the offices of legislators and provide comments. Information about how to find, contact, and address your legislator can be found online at the Legislative Reference Library of Texas.
Hearings To Watch
This section includes a sample of the hearings that we are 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 and Senate websites.
The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on Monday morning, May 10, to discuss House Joint Resolution (HJR) 125 by Rep. Jake Ellzey, which proposes a constitutional amendment to allow the surviving spouse of a deceased person with a disability to receive a limitation on school district property taxes if the spouse is at least 55 years old at the time of the person’s death.
The House County Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning, May 11, to discuss SB 504 by Sen. Borris Miles, which relates to the authority of county fire marshals to inspect group homes.
The House Human Services Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday, May 11, on the following notable bills:
- SB 50 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, which would create a competitive and integrated employment initiative for individuals receiving services under Medicaid waiver programs (SB 50 was previously highlighted as a TCDD Bill of the Week.)
- SB 1341 by Sen. Drew Springer, which relates to eligibility for benefits provided under public assistance programs
- SB 1917 by Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., which would create a public outreach campaign for older adults with visual impairments
The House Public Health Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday morning, May 12, to discuss SB 640 by Sen. José Menéndez, which would conduct a study on the interoperability needs and technology readiness of behavioral-health service providers.
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday morning, May 12, to consider the following notable bills:
- HB 4 by Rep. Four Price, relating to health care services under Medicaid and other public benefits programs using telecommunications or information technology
- HB 2658 by Rep. James Frank, relating to the Medicaid managed-care program, including requirements for managed-care organizations
- HB 3961 by Rep. David Spiller, relating to required posting of information regarding the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman on the websites of long-term care facilities
To stay up to date regarding how disability-related issues are being addressed by the Legislature, subscribe to TCDD eNews. On our website, you can find legislative resources and video updates from TCDD Policy Director Scott Daigle on what’s happening at the Capitol. To receive additional notifications, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.