Minutes — May 2015 Council Meeting

2015 Council and Committee Meetings


Council Members Present

  • Mary Durheim, Council Chair
  • Hunter Adkins
  • Kimberly Blackmon
  • Kristine Clark
  • Gladys Cortez
  • Kristen Cox
  • Andrew Crim
  • Elaine Eisenbaum, UT CDS
  • Mary Faithfull, DRT
  • Stephen Gersuk
  • Ivy Goldstein, DSHS
  • Barbara Kaatz, TEA
  • Jennifer Kaut, DARS
  • Penny Larkin, DADS
  • Ruth Mason
  • Scott McAvoy
  • Michael Peace
  • Brandon Pharris
  • Amy Sharp, A&M CDD
  • Cindy Swain, TEA
  • David Taylor
  • Lora Taylor
  • Rick Tisch
  • Nancy Walker, HHSC

Council Members Absent

  • Mateo Delgado
  • Diana Kern
  • Dana Perry
  • John Thomas

Guests Present

  • Analee Chaumont
  • Shiloh Gonzales, DARS
  • Darryl Powell

Staff Members Present

  • Roger Webb, Executive Director
  • Martha Cantu
  • Belinda Carlton
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Cynthia Ellison
  • Ashley Ford
  • Linda Logan
  • Jessica Ramos
  • Joshua Ryf
  • Koren Vogel

Call To Order

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on Friday, May 8, 2015, in the Salon A Ballroom of the Marriott Austin South Hotel, 4415 South IH 35, Austin, TX 78745. Council Chair Mary Durheim called the meeting to order at 9:01 AM.

1.  Introductions

Council members, staff and guests were introduced.

2.  Public Comments

No public comments were offered to the Council. Council Vice-Chair Kristen Cox raised the issue of Council member absences and asked if there was a way to differentiate between a reported absence and an excused absence. Project Development Committee Chair Gladys Cortez reported that this issue was discussed during that Committee meeting and it was noted that there was no action that could be taken even if a member has a significant amount of unexcused absences because members serve at the will of the Governor. It was suggested that a group of members could be appointed to contact members who are consistently absent and encourage their attendance.

3.  Consent Items

Chair Durheim recommended approval of the consent items for the meeting which include the minutes of the February 6, 2015, Council meeting and the February 5, 2015, Committee of the Whole meeting as well as the excused absences of Mateo Delgado, Dana Perry and John Thomas. Chair Durheim noted that she also received notification from Diana Kern, who has been serving in a holdover capacity since the end of her term in February 2015, that she is no longer able to serve or attend meetings due to health issues.

MOTION:  To approve the minutes of the February 6, 2015, Council meeting and February 5, 2015, Committee of the Whole meeting as well as the excused absences as noted.

MADE BY:  Mary Durheim

SECOND:  Lora Taylor

The motion passed unanimously.

4.  Chair’s Report

Chair Durheim discussed the NACDD conference and AIDD Technical Assistance Institute to be held July 21–23, 3015, in Sparks, NV. TCDD Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry and Communications Coordinator Joshua Ryf will attend along with Council members Michael Peace and Lora Taylor. As members of the Executive Committee, Peace and Taylor may attend training for Council leadership in addition to other conference activities.

5.  Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director Roger Webb provided a brief update of TCDD Sunset legislation noting that HB 1679 to continue TCDD as an agency was passed from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and is waiting to be heard by the full Senate.

Webb provided updates on TCDD staff and noted that an updated staff organization chart was included in meeting handouts. Ashley Ford was recently selected as Public Policy Assistant and began that position on May 1, 2015. Interviews have been conducted and a selection is pending for the newly created position of Planning Specialist. This staff member will assist Planning Specialist Cordry with RFP development, state plan activities, federal reporting and other duties. Webb also noted that Grants Management Director Sonya Hosey has been out on medical leave since February, working from home part-time as she can and hopes to return to the office soon.

Webb reported that the final notice of grant award for FY 2015 was received in the amount of $4,742,116. This was approximately $61,000 less than FY 2014 even though TCDD expected a slight increase based on congressional appropriations. Webb and other state executive directors questioned AIDD on this but have been assured that the formula to determine each state’s allotment was applied appropriately. This may be revised in the future specifically regarding the “hold harmless” provision.

Webb expressed his appreciation for the recognition activities celebrating his upcoming retirement.

6.  Presentation: Texas Able Act

TCDD Public Policy Director Jessica Ramos presented information on the Texas ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act. She noted that federal law has established flexible tax-free savings accounts for people with disabilities to cover qualified expenses and the state must now pass legislation to enact ABLE accounts. SB 1664 by Perry will establish 529-like savings accounts for qualified individuals with disabilities under the umbrella of the Texas Tomorrow Fund. These accounts allow independence for the account owner to accumulate savings of up to $100,000 to be used for certain expenses and still maintain Medicaid eligibility.

7.  FY 2012–FY 2016 State Plan Amendments

Council Chair Durheim reviewed the Committee of the Whole discussion and action regarding revisions to the FY 2012 — FY 2016 State Plan Goals and Objectives.

MOTION:  To accept revisions to the FY 2012 — FY 2016 State Plan Goals and Objectives as presented.

MADE BY:  Mary Durheim for the Committee of the Whole (motions from Committee do not need a second)

The motion passed unanimously.

8.  Executive Committee Report

Executive Director Webb reviewed the Independent Audit Status Report and Grants Monitoring Exceptions Report noting that no concerns were found with either report. No concerns were noted with the Risk Assessments of grant projects that were considered for continuation grant funding.

Webb reported that four stipends were approved during the previous quarter and are available for review in the meeting materials. No new grant projects were approved this quarter by the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee approved continuation funding for Educational Solutions Inspiring Communities (Enabling Technology), Strategic Education Solutions (Enabling Technology), Imagine Enterprises (Self-Advocates as Speakers), Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (Developmental Disabilities Policy Fellows), Epilepsy Foundation of Texas (Health and Fitness), and Region 17 Education Service Center (Family Involvement in Schools). Additional information was provided in a handout and four projects will be considered for continuation funding at the August Executive Committee meeting.

TCDD Operations Director Martha Cantu reviewed the TCDD Quarterly Financial Report noting that minimal funds from FY 2014 need to be obligated to grant projects by September 30, 2015. The balance of remaining FY 2015 funds will be available for projects through FY 2016. Cantu also noted that the deficit reflected on the report for FY 2016 can be managed with savings in operating expenses this year and with funds budgeted but not needed by some grant projects. Cantu reported that 46% of operating expense funds have been spent for FY 2015 at the half-way point of the fiscal year and there are no concerns that TCDD will stay within the budget.

The Executive Committee reviewed the staff and Council member Conflict of Interest Disclosure reports and no concerns were noted. Members were reminded to update their information as appropriate.

9.  Project Development Committee Report

Project Development Committee Chair Gladys Cortez reported on Committee discussions including a letter from Project SAVE (Texas Advocates) requesting additional leadership development and advocacy skills training projects with a specific focus on state supported living center residents. TCDD staff response noted that Texas Advocates would be eligible to apply for future projects and the idea could be considered as an activity during the development of the FY 2017 — FY 2021 State Plan.

As background development for future leadership and advocacy training projects, staff are discussing options for modifying the Partners in Policymaking program with Colleen Wieck, Minnesota DD Council Executive Director who developed the national PIP training program model.

Committee members Cindy Swain and Manda Hall discussed the upcoming Texas Parent to Parent Conference and Swain also discussed a 2-day stakeholder meeting on secondary school transition activities.

Cortez reported that she attended the most recent kick-off activity for Project HIRE and that DARS plans to expand that project to other areas, starting in El Paso.

10.  Public Policy Committee Report

Public Policy Committee Chair Lora Taylor reported that the Committee received updates on current legislation, Community First Choice options, Employment First taskforce, CARE Act and the possibility that the Biennial Disability Report may no longer be required in statute pending legislative outcome.

Public Policy Director Ramos and HHSC representative Nancy Walker further discussed the Community First Choice option that will create an entitlement program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for attendant and habilitation services and is expected to begin June 1, 2015.

11.  Announcements and Updates

Council members discussed dates of future meetings August 5–7, 2015, at the Embassy Suites in San Marcos as well as November 4–6, 2015, February 3–5, 2016 and May 4–6, 2016.


Council Chair Durheim adjourned the meeting at 10:15 AM.

Beth Stalvey, Secretary to the Council