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Minutes — Public Policy Committee Meeting, May 5, 2011

(As approved by the Committee, August 2011)

Attendance

Call to Order

The Public Policy Committee convened on Thursday, May 5, 2011, in the Longhorn Room of the Hilton Austin Airport, 9515 Hotel Drive; Austin, TX 78719. Committee Chair Rick Tisch called those present to order at 2:25 PM.

Introduction

Committee members and staff were introduced.

Public Comments

No public comments were offered.

Approval of Minutes

The Committee reviewed the minutes from the August 5, 2010 and November 3, 2010, Public Policy Committee meetings.

MOTION: To approve the minutes of the August 5, 2010 and November 3, 2010, Public Policy Committee meetings as presented.

MADE BY: Mateo Delgado

SECOND: Marcia Dwyer

The motion passed unanimously.

Member Advocacy Reports

The Committee received updates on member advocacy during the 82nd Legislative Session of the Texas Legislature from Hunter Adkins and Lora Taylor. Adkins has met with legislative staff of Reps. Paul Workman, Jim Jackson, and Jason Isaac as well as Senators Lucio II and Watson. Taylor said she has worked to inform a local coalition about decisions regarding the Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program and emailed Senator John Whitmire to thank him for supporting ECI funding. She also met with Congressman John Culbertson earlier in the week.

Public Policy Issues

State Policy Issues

Public Policy Director Lello provided an overview of the history and purpose of the Economic Stabilization Fund and under what circumstances it can be utilized.

The Committee discussed Utilization Reviews as a means to make sure that home and community-based services are evaluated to make sure that individuals are not receiving more services than necessary. Patty Anderson explained the types of information that may be requested of individuals during an evaluation. Jeff Kaufmann discussed that part of the purpose of the Utilization Review is to ensure that there is no waste, fraud, and abuse in home and community-based services. Members requested further information at the August 2011 Committee meeting.

Update on State Supported Living Center Monitoring Activities

The Committee discussed the efforts of the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) to comply with the U.S. Department of Justice Settlement Agreement (SA) regarding state supported living centers (SSLCs). Jeff Kaufmann said that progress is being made in many areas, but DADS is still in the process of complying by hiring additional staff and supervisors. The department’s hiring freeze does not affect SSLCs, which are authorized to fill vacancies. Chair Tisch asked about the time frame for complying with the SA, and Jeff Kaufmann said the SA expects each SSLC to be in compliance with the provisions of the SA in five years. However, the SA may still have effect over other provisions.

Federal Policy Issues

The Committee discussed specific federal policy issues currently under consideration by the US Congress, including the reauthorization of education laws.

Review of Unsolicited Project Ideas

Chair Tisch explained that TCDD received three Unsolicited Ideas during the last two quarters, which were reviewed by the Sub-Committee according to the Council’s current process for considering Unsolicited Ideas. The Sub-Committee recommended that the Public Policy Committee discuss an idea received from the Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition (TECEC). Public Policy Director Lello gave an overview of the TECEC proposal to establish a statewide task force to develop public policy recommendations on how to improve access to and quality of early childhood education programs for children with developmental disabilities ranging in age from birth to five years old.

MOTION: To develop this idea into a funded TCDD activity, to be considered by the Council in August.

MADE BY: Mateo Delgado

SECOND: Lora Taylor

The motion passed unanimously.

Public Information Report

Communication Coordinator Melissa Loe reported to the Committee about staff public information and outreach activities. She also went over the TCDD Strategic Communications Outline, which details ongoing efforts of staff to conduct public outreach and disseminate public information through email announcements, the TCDD website, the FYI Newsletter, social media, and stakeholder groups and list serves. Loe reported that there is a significant amount of traffic on the TCDD website, with 31,000 unique visitors since January 2010. She reported that staff will look into ways to improve the website. Committee members provided feedback to Loe regarding the implementation of Strategic Communications and public information activities.

Preliminary Discussion of 2012 Biennial Disability Report

Public Policy Director Lello reviewed statutory requirements for completing the Biennial Report, as provided by Title IV, Chapter 531, Section 531.0235 of the Texas Government Code, which requires TCDD to prepare a biennial report on the state of services to persons with disabilities in this state. Mateo Delgado expressed an interest in the topics of employment, education, and transportation. Rick Tisch indicated that he would be interested in a report on education. Hunter Adkins said she would be interested in the topic of healthcare. Mateo Delgado and Lora Taylor discussed the possibility of structuring the report to focus on education and cover education at all stages in life, incorporating the effect of education on employment prospects. Jeff Kaufman discussed the importance of improving the availability of direct support workers in the community. Patty Anderson suggested examining the impact of budget cuts on the areas identified by the Committee. The Committee members expressed support for this direction. Lello stated that Public Policy staff will research the recommendations of the Committee and develop a draft special focus area that the Committee will consider at the August meeting.

Other Discussion Items

The Committee discussed the draft State Plan Goals and Objectives as presented during the Committee of the Whole. Committee members expressed interest in changing Council Committee structures to align with State Plan Goals and incorporate the review of both policy issues and funded-activities by each individual Committee.

Adjourn

There being no further business, Delgado adjourned the meeting at 4:22 PM.

Roger A. Webb, Secretary to the Council
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