Minutes — May 2015 Committee of the Whole 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
  • Manda Hall, DSHS
  • 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
  • Richard Tisch
  • Nancy Walker, HHSC

Council Members Absent

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

Guests Present

  • Annalee Chaumont
  • Susanne Elrod
  • Ivy Goldstein, DSHS
  • Shiloh Gonzales, DARS
  • Jan Newsom
  • Darryl Powell
  • Carl Risinger

Staff Members Present

  • Roger Webb, Executive Director
  • Barbara Booker
  • Martha Cantu
  • Belinda Carlton
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Cynthia Ellison
  • Ashley Ford
  • Wendy Jones
  • Linda Logan
  • Susan Mihalik
  • Jessica Ramos
  • Fernando Rodriguez
  • Joshua Ryf
  • Koren Vogel

Call To Order

The Committee of the Whole of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on Thursday, May 7, 2015, in the Salon C/D Room of the Marriott Austin South, 4415 South IH 35, Austin, TX 78745. Council Chair Mary Durheim called the meeting to order at 9:35 AM.

1.  Introductions

Council members, staff and guests introduced themselves.

2.  Public Comments

No public comments were offered.

3.  Chair and Executive Director Remarks

TCDD Communications Coordinator Joshua Ryf introduced new Public Policy Assistant Ashley Ford who started in that position May 1, 2015. Ford has a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration and did a year-long internship with State Representative Zerwas during the 83rd Texas Legislature.

Chair Durheim discussed Committee assignments for members and noted that Lora Taylor has agreed to Chair the Public Policy Committee. She replaces Kristen Cox who was elected as Council Vice-Chair. Taylor has asked Kristine Clark to serve as Vice-Chair of that Committee. Other Committee assignments include Andy Crim to the Project Development Committee noting that he was not assigned to a Committee in his previous terms as Council Vice-Chair. New members Ruth Mason, Michael Peace and Brandon Pharris have requested assignment to the Public Policy Committee and John Thomas has requested assignment to the Project Development Committee. To maintain a balance of members on each Committee, Mateo Delgado and DARS representative Jennifer Kaut have agreed to move to the Project Development Committee. Council Vice-Chair Cox becomes Chair of the Audit Committee and past Committee Chair Crim remains on that Committee along with Scott McAvoy and John Thomas. Taylor rotates off the Audit Committee to serve as Chair of the Public Policy Committee.

MOTION:  To approve Lora Taylor as Chair of the Public Policy Committee and to approve assignments to TCDD Committees as presented.

MADE BY:  Mary Durheim

SECOND:  Brandon Pharris

The motion passed unanimously.

Chair Durheim reported on the search for a new TCDD Executive Director. She noted that 123 applications were received of which 35 were found to meet the minimum qualifications in education and experience. The selection team scored those 35 on the documented knowledge, skills and abilities and then selected 7 for interviews. Those interviews are scheduled to take place May 27–29, 2015. The selection team expects to select 2–3 finalists for a second round of interviews to take place in early June. Durheim noted that there is expected to be a gap in time between current Executive Director Roger Webb’s retirement on June 12, 2015, and the date a new Executive Director will begin. The Executive Committee approved TCDD Operations Director Marta Cantu to serve as Acting Executive Director during this time period to ensure the organization continues to operate without disruption. Cantu will have signature authority for various business items and will be the point of contact to coordinate efforts of the TCDD management team.

Executive Director Webb reported on Sunset legislation for TCDD. HB 1679 to continue TCDD as an agency until 2027 was previously passed unanimously in the House and then heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, May 6, 2015. HB 1679 was recommended by the Sunset Commission with unanimous support and passed in the House without opposition. It was also passed unanimously by the Senate Committee and is expected to be placed on the intent calendar for passage then will go to the Governor’s office. There is no need for a conference committee between the House and Senate providing that the Senate approves the House version of the bill.

4.  84th Texas Legislature Update

Public Policy Director Jessica Ramos provided an overview of key efforts of the 84th Texas Legislature. Ramos noted that with 25 days left in the session only 31 bills have been sent to the Governor. She provided key dates left in the session including the final days for the House and Senate to consider all bills. June 1, 2015 is the last day of the session and June 21, 2015 is the last day that the Governor can sign or veto any bill.

TCDD Public Policy Specialist Linda Logan reviewed legislation that would impact people with disabilities in the areas of mental health and employment. She discussed SB 1854 related to positive behavior supports and noted that it limits criteria regarding the use of restraints on students. Logan also discussed HB 2789 on Trauma Informed Care Training in state supported living centers and intermediate care facilities with the goal of reducing restraints on residents, and SB 1889 which would remove parents’ names from the child abuse and neglect registry for relinquishment of custody of children to state care in order to obtain mental health services. She also discussed employment bills on historically underutilized businesses and state implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

Ramos discussed budget items of interest including reductions to the interest lists for programs administered by the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS), Promoting Independence initiatives, attendant care wages, autism services and state supported living centers (SSLCs). She noted that a restructuring commission has been recommended to review the SSLC system and that Austin SSLC is recommended for closure by August 31, 2017. Ramos also reviewed the Sunset Commission recommendations and the Strike Force report on the restructure of Health and Human Services agencies. She noted that recommendations are constantly changing and staff would provide the latest information through the TCDD website with a final report at the end of the session.

TCDD Public Policy Specialist Belinda Carlton provided information on activities related to Guardianship Reform and Supported Decision Making. She reviewed the seven recommendations of the Guardianship Reform and Supported Decision Making (GRSDM) workgroup including that courts determine if guardianship alternatives work, courts determine if supports are available for the person, persons under guardianship should be allowed to determine where they live, a Bill of Rights for individuals under guardianship be established, agreements on Supported Decision making be developed, guardians visit individuals in institutions on a monthly basis, and language be changed from “ward” to “person under guardianship”. Carton reviewed legislation regarding these recommendations noting that HB 39, which unanimously passed the House, includes the provisions on requiring courts to determine if guardianship alternatives work and if supports are available as well as allowing individuals to make decisions on living arrangements. HB 39 also incorporated provisions establishing supported decision-making as a new alternative to guardianship. Carlton noted that this legislation provides a good chance that the first four recommendations from the GRSDM workgroup will become law. It is possible that a Bill of Rights could be established but she expects the last two recommendations will still need to be addressed in future legislative sessions. Carlton also noted that self-advocates provided testimony on these bills and played a video of one advocate’s testimony.

5.  Council Member Training: The History of TCDD and the DD Act

Executive Director Webb provided an overview of the key changes to the DD Act and TCDD since 1971. He discussed how TCDD evolved from the Texas Governor’s Planning and Advisory Council on Developmental Disabilities with the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation administering the state plan to Texas Rehabilitation Commission providing administrative support and finally to the establishment of Texas Education Agency as the designated state agency to provide administrative services. Through changes to the DD Act and state law, TCDD has become a stronger, more independent agency carrying out the state plan developed by the Council through grant projects and public policy activities. Webb reviewed the change in focus of TCDD activities from planning and construction activities to a focus on community services. He discussed the importance of listening to constituents as well as including people with developmental disabilities in the decision making process. Webb reviewed the accomplishments of TCDD grant projects and noted how many organizations that are currently in existence and provide services to people with disabilities began as TCDD projects. These include Any Baby Can, EveryChild, Inc., Texas Council on Offenders with Mental Impairments, the state’s 211 Information and Referral Network, and personal assistance services and respite services programs. Webb noted challenges for TCDD on the issues of guardianship reform, employment, self-advocacy and cultural understanding. He also provided guidance for the future from his personal reflections.

Council members and staff recognized Webb for his 31 years of service to TCDD and people with disabilities. Members spoke about his impact in their lives. Council Chair Mary Durheim and former Council Chair Jan Newsom discussed their admiration of his work and their appreciation for his dedication to the Council.

6.  Grant Project Highlights

TCDD Grants Management Specialist Wendy Jones reviewed highlights of the leadership development and advocacy skills training grant projects. Five projects with the intent of creating programs that provide leadership development and advocacy skills training for people with developmental disabilities, their families and allies are in the final year of a 3-year project. Project MOVE from the Arc of Texas partnered with local chapters and others to provide training for 234 individuals in eight communities during the first two years of the project. Project SAVE from Texas Advocates trained and supported SSLC residents and community organizations to create change for themselves and their communities. The Texas Statewide Independent Living Council developed the Independent Living Conference as a 2-day event targeting consumers, family members, service providers, rehabilitation counselors and other stakeholders. Grassroots Advocacy Information Network (GAIN) from the Arc of Dallas developed two 12-week sessions entitled iLead that has trained over 338 individuals in school districts as well as through provider agencies. Project LEAD from Texas A&M University has provided self-determination training for over 300 students in the Bryan/College Station area as well as parent seminars on issues such as higher education, health care and employment.

7.  Public Information Report

TCDD Communications Coordinator Joshua Ryf reviewed public information activities during the previous quarter. Ryf discussed the Council’s social media efforts and updated members on the number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers who receive TCDD posts. He discussed the “Side-by-Side” campaign which was a national effort celebrating Developmental Disabilities Awareness month and showcased Council members and their families and friends as they engaged in activities that included individuals with disabilities. Ryf reviewed TCDD’s 2014 Annual Report which was formatted with infographics to highlight Council activities. He also noted that over 5000 copies of the Higher Education Resource Guide were distributed in March.

8.  TCDD State Plan

TCDD Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry discussed the TCDD State Plan and the process to develop goals and objectives for the next State Plan for FY 2017 — FY 2021. The State Plan will take one year to develop with preliminary discussion taking place during the August 2015 meetings, goals will be selected during the November 2015 meetings and objectives will be developed during the February 2016 meetings. During the May 2016 meetings, the Council will review the draft goals and objectives and prepare to solicit public comment. The state plan will be posted for public comment between May and August 2016 with final approval at the August 2016 meetings allowing for the state plan to be submitted by the deadline in August. Cordry discussed the requirements of the plan and the need to include measurable outcomes noting that a current focus of the federal governing agency is on measurement in addition to self-advocacy and cultural responsiveness.

Cordry then discussed possible revisions to the FY 2012 – FY 2016 State Plan Goals and Objectives. She noted that recommended changes to the state plan reflect current work of the Council and are not “amendments” that would require public comment. She reviewed progress in the areas of education, employment, educational campaigns, transportation, community supports, leadership and advocacy, and staff support. Cordry recommended revisions to include:

  • Goal 1, Objective 3 on Education by adding an activity of continuing to promote widespread use of positive behavior interventions and supports in schools and communities
  • Goal 2, Objective 5 on Employment to initiate one activity on persons with developmental disabilities and their families understanding employment while maintaining benefits
  • Goal 3 on Educational Campaigns to reduce the number of campaigns to one but to provide technical assistance to community members and organizations as needed.

Members briefly discussed the proposed revisions.

MOTION:  To recommend Council approval of revisions to the FY 2012 – FY 2016 State Plan as presented.

MADE BY:  Andy Crim

SECOND:  Lora Taylor

It was suggested that this could be further discussed in the Public Policy Committee and Project Development Committee meetings but the majority of members did not feel this was necessary. The motion passed without opposition. Kristen Cox abstained from voting.


Council Chair Durheim adjourned the Committee of the Whole adjourned at 2:37 PM.

Beth Stalvey, Secretary to the Council