Minutes — August 2016 Public Policy Committee Meeting

2016 Council and Committee Meetings

Attendance

Committee Members Present

  • Lora Taylor, Committee Chair
  • Hunter Adkins
  • Mary Faithfull, DRTx
  • Stephen Gersuk
  • Ruth Mason
  • Michael Peace
  • Amy Sharp, UT — CDS
  • Meagan Sumbera, A&M — CDD
  • Donnie Wilson, DADS

Committee Members Absent

  • Kristine Clark
  • Brandon Pharris
  • Nancy Walker, HHSC

Guests Present

  • Justin Babineaux, DADS
  • Stephanie Sokolosk

Staff Members Present

  • Ashley Ford
  • Linda Logan
  • Jessica Ramos

Call To Order

The Public Policy Committee convened on Thursday, August 4, 2016 in the Cottonwood Room at the Horseshoe Bay Resort, 200 Hi Circle North, Horseshoe Bay, TX 78657. Public Policy Committee Chair Lora Taylor called those present to order at 2:10 p.m.

  1. Introductions
    Chair Taylor asked the Committee members, staff, and guests to introduce themselves and to share the policy issue that is personally most important to them in the upcoming legislative session.

  2. Public Comments
    No public comments were offered to the Committee.

  3. Consideration of Minutes
    The Committee reviewed the minutes from the May 5, 2016, Public Policy Committee meeting.

    MOTION: To approve the minutes of the May 5, 2016, Public Policy Committee meeting.
    MADE BY: Michael Peace
    SECOND: Hunter Adkins
    The motion passed without opposition.

  4. Chair’s Remarks
    Chair Taylor reviewed absences and reported on the recent events that she attended, including an accessible parking hearing hosted by the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities.

  5. Member Updates
    Committee member Michael Peace discussed his recent travels and experience with the Patriot Academy. Committee member Hunter Adkins discussed her recent experience in a local beauty pageant. Committee member Ruth Mason discussed her son’s experience with a video production crew to promote his soap products. Mason thanked both University Centers of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) representatives for providing Person-Centered Practices training to help facilitate community life for people with developmental and other disabilities.

  6. TCDD Public Policy Priorities
    The Committee is responsible for recommending public policy priorities to the Council before the beginning of each legislative session. TCDD’s Public Policy Priorities provide guidance to staff regarding legislative advocacy activities. Chair Taylor presented the proposed 2017 Public Policy Priorities and explained the purpose of the recommended revision to add a link to the Council’s position statements.

    MOTION: To recommend Council approval of the 2017 Public Policy Priorities as presented, with one edit to add “supported decision-making” to the sentence beneath the Guardianship and Supported Decision-Making heading.
    MADE BY: Hunter Adkins
    SECOND: Michael Peace
    The motion passed unanimously.

  7. TCDD Position Statements Review
    The Committee reviewed and recommended updates for the following Position Statements: Employment, Education, and Transition from School to Adult Life. Chair Taylor and staff explained that the Right to Privacy Position Statement would be taken up in November. No action was taken.

    Chair Taylor presented the Employment Position Statement and explained the purpose of the recommended revisions. The statement more prominently features Employment First in the first paragraph rather than in the first bullet.

    MOTION: To recommend Council approval of the Employment Position Statement as presented.
    MADE BY: Hunter Adkins
    SECOND: Michael Peace
    The motion passed unanimously.

    Chair Taylor presented the Education Position Statement and explained the purpose of the recommended revisions. The statement changes “behavioral and academic needs” to “social, emotional and academic needs” for more modern terminology, adds a paragraph relating to the identification of students with disabilities, revises the paragraph regarding charter schools, and combines paragraphs regarding inclusion.

    The committee discussed the recommended revisions and requested additional information regarding school finance and charter schools. The Committee agreed to take no action on the Education Position Statement and to put it back on the agenda for discussion at the November meeting. No action was taken on the Education Position Statement.

    Chair Taylor presented the Transition from School to Adult Life Position Statement and explained the purpose of the recommended revisions. The statement adds support for requirements to be implemented under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

    MOTION: To recommend Council approval of the Transition from School to Adult Life Position Statement as presented.
    MADE BY: Hunter Adkins
    SECOND: Michael Peace
    The motion passed unanimously.

  8. Public Policy Issues
    The Committee received updates from staff regarding recent public policy activities including the impact of WIOA, lead found in the water of State Supported Living Centers (SSLCs) and the state’s response, state policy issues including the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) Draft Long Range Plan for SSLCs, Austin State Hospital (ASH) and Austin SSLC Location Feasibility Study, proposed state budget cuts, and the Long-Term Care Plan for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities and Related Conditions.

    Public Policy Director Jessica Ramos discussed the impact of WIOA. Ramos highlighted that the changes WIOA will require, including new Vocational Rehabilitation requirements for transition age youth and 14(c) certificate holders, which are a result of sustained advocacy efforts and cultural change. Ramos stressed the importance of disability advocates continuing to work together to address the systems change necessary to successfully transition people from subminimum wage settings into competitive integrated employment.

    Ramos discussed lead found in the water at three SSLCs and the state’s response. Ramos explained that the state’s original plan for determining residents’ lead exposure only included training SSLC staff to look for signs of lead poisoning, therefore the Disability Policy Consortium (DPC) sent Governor Abbott a letter that requested blood tests for residents of the SSLCs to ensure their health and safety. Ramos noted that DADS Commissioner Weizenbaum responded to the DPC letter and conducted blood tests on residents at the three SSLCs; the blood test results did not indicate elevated levels of lead for considerable concern among any SSLC resident.

    Ramos presented the public comment submitted by TCDD staff regarding DADS Draft Long Range Plan for SSLCs. Ramos explained that DADS must develop a plan for the provision of SSLC services with recommendations regarding the most efficient long-term use and management of SSLCs. TCDD’s comments included, but are not limited to developing and implementing an SSLC Peer Support Program, clearly representing data so it does not perpetuate the misconception that people with complex needs can only live in institutional settings, establishing standards for outsourcing contracts, and planning for consolidation and closure.

    Ramos presented the public comment submitted by TCDD staff regarding the ASH and Austin SSLC Location Feasibility Study. Ramos explained that the Health and Human Services Commission is conducting a study to determine the “feasibility, costs, and benefits of transferring operations of the ASH to a new location” and are looking at the Austin SSLC through the same lens. TCDD’s comments included, prioritizing evidence-based downsizing and rebalancing for different mental health and intellectual and developmental disabilities services and needs, prioritizing quality treatment of the individuals served at ASH, and the long-term support needs of residents at Austin SSLC.

    Ramos explained that state leadership directed state agencies to craft budgets for 2018-2019 that will propose 4 percent cuts from 2016-2017 levels for many state services. Ramos presented TribTalk’s article titled, Don’t blame oil prices on budget woes. The article concludes that cutting the state budget by four percent could bring significant cuts to already underinvested services such as education and healthcare and identifies structural deficits caused by prior legislative actions.

    Ramos presented the public comment submitted by TCDD staff regarding the Long-Term Care Plan for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities and Related Conditions. The plan is developed by DADS prior to each legislative session to reflect priorities for SSLCs, intermediate care facilities, and waiver programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. TCDD’s comments included, but are not limited to prioritizing interest list reduction, Community First Choice outreach, expanding provider qualifications, and prioritizing meaningful day activities.

  9. Other Discussion Items
    The Committee received an update regarding public policy related communications and marketing efforts including TCDD’s work with the Texas Tribune Festival to increase the participation of people with disabilities and their families.

Adjourn

There being no further business, Committee Chair Lora Taylor adjourned the meeting at 4:05 p.m.

Beth Stalvey, Secretary to the Council