Texas Legislative News: May 6

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During the 86th Texas Legislature, the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) provides regular updates on disability-related issues that are being considered at the Capitol.

TCDD Testimony

Last week, TCDD Public Policy Specialist Linda Logan provided written testimony on House Bill (HB) 4543. The bill, which was recently featured as a TCDD Bill of the Week, would delay the transition of certain Medicaid participants into managed care. In her remarks, Linda cited a number of serious problems that have yet to be effectively addressed within existing managed care services in Texas. She went on to suggest that postponing the transition would make it more likely for an adequately-functioning model to be designed that serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and satisfies the needs of both recipients of services and providers.

Legislative Deadlines

With lawmakers at the Capitol set to wrap-up their business on May 27, the Legislature is starting to reach its end-of-session deadlines. For instance, May 6 is the last day for House committees to report HBs and House Joint Resolutions (HJRs) to the Calendars Committee for consideration by the full body. Here are some other deadlines for the 86th Regular Session:

  • Thursday, May 9: Last day for House to consider 2nd reading HBs/HJRs on daily or supplemental calendar
  • Saturday, May 18: Last day for House committees to report Senate Bills (SBs) and Senate Joint Resolutions (SJRs) to the Calendars Committee
  • Tuesday, May 21: Last day for House to consider 2nd reading SBs/SJRs on daily or supplemental calendar
  • Wednesday, May 22: Last day for Senate to consider all bills and joint resolutions on 2nd or 3rd reading
  • Sunday, May 26: Last day for House and Senate to adopt Conference Committee Reports or to concur with amendments from the other chamber
  • Monday, May 27: Last day of session
  • Sunday, June 16: Last day the Governor can sign or veto bills passed during the regular session

A full list of the dates of interest for the 86th Legislature can be found here.

Disability-Related Bills Advance at the Legislature

This week, the full Texas House will take up and consider the following disability-related bills:

  • HB 1365, relating to authorizing the possession, use, cultivation, processing, distribution, transportation, research, testing, and delivery of low-THC cannabis for medical use by patients with certain debilitating medical conditions and the licensing of cannabis dispensing organizations, cannabis research organizations, and cannabis testing facilities; establishing the cannabis therapeutic research review board; authorizing fees.
  • HB 3703, relating to the dispensing, administration, and use of low-THC cannabis; authorizing low-THC cannabis research; authorizing a fee.
  • HB 3991, relating to the deaf-blind with multiple disabilities waiver program.
  • HB 4531, relating to the rights and treatment of and services provided to certain adult sexual assault survivors.
  • HB 4543, relating to implementation of the system redesign for the delivery of Medicaid benefits to persons with IDD.

The following bills recently passed in the Texas Senate and now move over to the House for consideration:

  • SB 562, relating to criminal or juvenile procedures regarding persons who are or may be persons with a mental illness or intellectual disability.
  • SB 712, relating to prohibiting the use of certain aversive techniques on students enrolled in public schools.
  • SB 1519, relating to establishing a council on long-term care facilities and the duties of that council.
  • SB 1552, relating to state supported living centers.

The following bills recently passed in the Texas House and now move over to the Senate for consideration:

  • HB 3117, relating to developing the proposed plan on long-term care for persons with an intellectual disability.
  • HB 3163, relating to parking for persons with disabilities.
  • HB 3540, relating to the authority of a peace officer to release in lieu of arrest certain persons with an IDD.
  • HB 3612, relating to a study and report by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board regarding best practices for assisting students with autism spectrum disorder.
  • HB 3630, relating to prohibiting the use of aversive techniques on students enrolled in public school who receive special education services.
  • HB 3721, relating to an independent review organization to conduct reviews of certain medical necessity determinations under the Medicaid managed care program.

Hearings to Watch

Below is a sample of the hearings TCDD will be monitoring this week. During these hearings, legislative committees will 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 or Senate websites.

The House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee held a hearing on Monday morning. Among other bills, they discussed the following:

  • SB 1426 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, relating to the establishment by a county of public guardians for certain incapacitated persons and funding for guardianships by public guardians and related services. The bill would provide a clear legal framework for counties interested in creating a plan for guardians of last resort.
  • SB 1975, also by Sen. Zaffirini, relating to probate and guardianship matters and proceedings. The bill includes recommendations from statutory probate judges regarding the Estates Code. Among other things, the bill would require guardianship applicants to provide the last digits of their driver’s license and social security numbers, allow clerks to transfer original files electronically, and require all attorneys representing a party in these cases to be certified by the Texas Bar.
  • SB 1784, another bill by Sen. Zaffirini, relating to the deduction from applied income of compensation paid to guardians of certain Medicaid recipients. The bill would increase the maximum payment for guardianship services through Medicaid Applied Income from $175 to $250 per month.

The House Human Services Committee will meet for a hearing on Tuesday morning. Among the bills on the agenda is SB 2040 by Sen. José Rodríguez, relating to a report regarding Medicaid reimbursement rates and access to care. The measure would direct the Texas Health & Human Services Commission (HHSC) to prepare a written report regarding provider reimbursement rates and access to care. Among other provisions, the report would include the factors used in reimbursement rate methodology, provider participation, regional differences in provider participation, and the effect of Medicaid provider incentive payment programs.

The House Committee on Insurance will also hold a hearing on Tuesday morning. The list of bills to be considered includes SB 1207 by Sen. Charles Perry, relating to the coordination of private health benefits with Medicaid benefits. It would require HHSC, in coordination with Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs), to develop and adopt a clear policy for an MCO to ensure the coordination and timely delivery of Medicaid wrap-around benefits for recipients with both primary health benefit plan coverage and Medicaid coverage.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning, as well. Its agenda includes the following bills:

  • HB 10 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, relating to the creation of the Texas Mental and Behavioral Health Research Institute. Under the terms of the bill, the Institute would work to create best practices, leadership, and vision for child behavioral health needs and would fund research for behavioral health issues.
  • HB 1576 by Rep. Dade Phelan, relating to the delivery of certain medical transportation services, including under Medicaid and certain other health and human services programs. The bill would allow non-emergency medical transportation services under Medicaid to be provided by Transportation Network Companies such as Uber and Lyft.

The Senate Education Committee will also conduct a hearing on Tuesday morning. They will discuss Rep. Mary González’s HB 111, relating to public school policy and training for public school employees addressing the prevention of sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and other maltreatment of children. The bill would require child abuse training to specifically include information on students with cognitive disabilities.

The House Committee on Pensions, Investments & Financial Services will hold a hearing on Thursday morning. Its agenda includes SB 1184 by Sen. Perry, relating to eligible participants in the Texas Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Program. The bill would allow a court-appointed guardian to establish a Texas ABLE account for an eligible ward.

Stay Informed

To stay up-to-date regarding how disability-related issues are being addressed by the legislature, subscribe to TCDD eNews or follow us on Twitter.