Texas Legislative News: March 18

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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

Competitive Wages: On March 11, TCDD Public Policy & Communications Specialist Ashley Ford provided testimony to the House Committee on International Relations & Economic Development. She provided remarks on Rep. John Raney’s House Bill (HB) 885, which was recently featured as a TCDD Bill of the Week. The bill would require community rehabilitation programs to pay employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) no less per hour than the federal minimum wage. In her testimony, Ashley mentioned that paying workers with IDD at least minimum wage is an important step in implementing Texas’ Employment First policy (learn more about Employment First in this TCDD fact sheet). Ashley’s full testimony can be read here.

Lauren Gerken – self-advocate and TCDD Policy Fellow at The Arc of Texas – also provided testimony on HB 885. You can watch both of their testimonies here (beginning at the 1:32:30 mark).

Ashley Ford's TestimonyAshley Ford and Lauren Gerken (facing the panel, seated in the two seats on the left) providing testimony to the House Committee on International Relations & Economic Development.

Guardianship: Also on March 11, TCDD Public Policy Specialist Linda Logan provided written testimony to the Senate Committee on State Affairs. Her testimony related to Senate Bill (SB) 31, which was also recently featured as a TCDD Bill of the Week. The bill would establish a program to help prevent abuse, fraud, and exploitation in guardianship cases. Linda’s written testimony can be found here. She also provided identical remarks to the House Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, as they took up SB 31’s companion bill in the House, HB 1286.

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.

The House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence will hold a hearing today at 1:30 p.m. and consider the bills listed below.

  • HB 601 by Rep. Four Price, relating to procedures and reporting requirements regarding criminal defendants who are or may be persons with a mental illness or an intellectual disability.
  • HB 1139 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, relating to the applicability of the death penalty to a capital offense committed by a person with an intellectual disability.

To watch the hearing, go here.

The House Public Education Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday. Among the bills to be considered is HB 1453 by Rep. Diego Bernal, which would require at least one member of the State Board of Educator Certification to be a teacher who is certified in special education with classroom experience. The bill also includes a variety of other provisions related to teacher training on the instruction of students with disabilities. To watch the hearing, go here.

The House Committee on Human Services will hold a hearing on Tuesday. The agenda includes HB 1585 by Rep. Mary González, which would require the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to conduct a study on waiting lists for Medicaid programs providing services to persons with IDD, such as the Home and Community-based Services (HCS) waiver program. To watch the hearing, go here.

The Senate Committee on Education will hold a hearing on Tuesday and consider the bills listed below. The bills – all authored by Sen. Judith Zaffirini – are related to students who are deaf or have a visual impairment.

  • SB 54, relating to the consideration for public school accountability purposes of certain students participating in regional day school programs for the deaf.
  • SB 522, relating to the development of an individualized education program for a public school student with a visual impairment.
  • SB 895, relating to the language acquisition of children eight years of age or younger who are
  • deaf or hard of hearing.

To watch the hearing, go here.

LBB Infographic

The Texas Senate recently passed SB 500 – its version of the Supplemental Appropriations Bill – which provides additional funding for various programs in the current state budget, including $4.4 million to cover a Medicaid shortfall. The Legislative Budget Board (LBB) created an infographic that provides a breakdown of the bill’s funding totals. SB 500 will be considered by the House Appropriations Committee during a hearing on Monday.

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.