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Minutes — Public Policy Committee Meeting, February 2012

2012 Council and Committee Meetings


Committee Members Present

  • Joe Rivas, Chair
  • Kristen Cox, Vice Chair
  • Hunter Adkins
  • Kevin Estes, HHSC
  • Mary Faithfull, DRT
  • Cindy Johnston
  • Sandy Graham, CDS – UT
  • Jeff Kaufmann, DADS
  • Sara Kendall, DARS
  • Amy Sharp, CDD TX A&M
  • Lora Taylor
  • Rick Tisch

Committee Members Absent

  • Mateo Delgado

Council Members Present

  • John Morris
  • Gladys Cortez


  • Amanda Dunnavant
  • Leticia Finely
  • Ileene Robinson
  • Charlene Seawright

Staff Members Present

  • Belinda Carlton
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Cassie Fisher
  • Melissa Loe
  • Jessica Ramos
  • Melissa Rosser
  • Roger Webb

Call to Order

The Public Policy Committee convened on Thursday, February 9, 2012, in the Limestone Room of the Austin Marriott South; Austin, TX 78701. Committee Chair Joe Rivas called those present to order at 1:27 PM.

1. Introduction

Committee members, staff, and guests were introduced.

2. Public Comments

Charlene Seawright stated that she wished to learn who establishes policy in the Public Policy Committee.

Craig Spradling, founder of Parking Mobility, commented that many of the problems associated with accessible parking are due to a lack of public awareness. If members of the public were aware of the critical need for accessible parking, then they would not violate parking regulations.

3. Consideration of November 3, 2011 Minutes

The Committee reviewed the minutes from the November 3, 2011, Public Policy Committee meeting.

MOTION: To approve the minutes of the November 3, 2011, Public Policy Committee meetings as presented.

MADE BY: Lora Taylor

SECOND: Hunter Atkins

The motion passed, with an abstention by Amy Sharp.

4. Chair’s Remarks

Public Policy Chair Joe Rivas announced that Kristen Cox was selected as Vice Chair of the Public Policy Committee, effective immediately.

5. Member Updates

Gladys Alonzo gave an update about the activities of a workgroup established to develop recommendations for “Next Steps” to Promote Outreach and Development. Kristen Cox volunteered to join the workgroup, which will conduct meetings via teleconference.

6. Public Policy Issues

  1. State Policy Issues
    Public Policy Specialist Belinda Carlton gave the committee an update on a Position Statement that was drafted and adopted by a group of mental health advocates from 45 different organizations on the “Mental Health Prevention & Early Intervention: A Framework for Action.” The statement includes goal statements, guiding principles, and an elevator speech to deliver to policymakers.

    Public Policy Director Jessica Ramos provided a briefing on the Medicaid 1115 Waiver. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) recently received approval for a new managed care waiver that includes hospitals and will be developing another waiver that will include long-term care. A joint legislative committee on Oversight of the Medicaid Reform Waiver was appointed and will be meeting on February 29, 2012. Staff will keep the committee apprised of the committee’s progress and findings. No formal proposals are expected until the summer of 2012.

    Director Ramos provided an update on the My Medicaid Matters (MMM) coalition, which is comprised of more than 60 stakeholder organizations. The purpose of MMM is to provide a unified voice to inform policymakers and the public about the benefits of Medicaid and what could happen to Texans if Medicaid funding were reduced or eliminated. Although the organization was somewhat active during the 82nd Legislative Session, it is expected to be more organized and involved during the 83rd session of the Texas Legislature.

    Public Policy Director Jessica Ramos updated the committee on the implementation of the cost containment measure that required certain waiver services to be reduced to the 90th Percentile. Individuals whose services were proposed to be cut had the opportunity to request an exception to the reduction. In the Home and Community Based Services (HCS) waiver program, 99 percent of individuals who requested an exception received it. One hundred percent of those who requested an exception in the Community Living Assistance and Support Services (CLASS) program received the exception. The Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) will contact the individuals who voluntarily accepted service reductions to ensure that they received the proper information about the cost containment measures.

  2. Update on State Supported Living Center Monitoring Activities
    The Committee received a briefing from Public Policy Assistant Melissa Rosser on 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). Overall, there was not significant improvement in the facilities’ compliance with the SA. On average, the facilities improved compliance by two percent. Richmond SSLC improved compliance by seven percent, the greatest increase of any SSLC reviewed this quarter.

  3. Federal Policy Issues
    The Committee discussed specific federal policy issues currently under consideration by the US Congress, including federal appropriations, federal efforts to hire individuals with disabilities, and manufactured housing access.

    Jessica Ramos informed the committee that the federal budget has not yet been adopted, so the funding for DD Councils is not yet known. Currently TCDD and other councils are operating at fiscal year 2011 levels, with a reduction of .89 percent.

    In January 2012, the Obama Administration determined that the federal CLASS Act could not be implemented in its current form. As a result, legislation has been filed in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal the CLASS Act. The U.S. Senate is not expected to follow suit and a coalition is forming for the purpose of addressing the issues identified with the implementation of the law in order to make needed changes.

    The U.S. Department of Labor is proposing a new goal for federal contractors and subcontractors to hire persons with disabilities at a rate of seven percent of their workforces. TCDD submitted comments on the proposed rule to the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), which submitted input on behalf of all DD Councils.

    Public Policy Specialist Belinda Carlton reported that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved recommendations to increase the width of doorway and hallways standards in manufactured housing on January 18, 2012.

7. Public Information Report

Communication Coordinator Melissa Loe reported to the Committee about staff public information and outreach activities. Since the Council directed staff to create awareness and build connections, TCDD staff is collaborating with other groups, led by DADS, to plan to celebrate October as Disability History and Awareness Month. The group of agencies organizing activities is meeting regularly to more strategically plan this year’s observance. Staff recently updated the People First Language handout, which is the most requested material. The format of the handout was changed, and the Spanish language content was combined into one handout to do more Spanish language outreach. TCDD staff also developed a new handout about Becoming A Council Member. The Annual Report is being drafted and will highlight the accomplishments of TCDD and grant projects. TCDD’s Facebook fans and Twitter followers continue to grow steadily, enabling TCDD to connect with new people and organizations. Loe also updated the committee on TCDD website visitors.

8. TCDD 2012 Biennial Disability Report Update

Public Policy Specialist Cassie Fisher provided an update to the committee on the 2012 Biennial Report. Fisher reviewed the project timeline for the report and also informed council members that staff have received and reviewed bids for a technical writer. The interview process will take place the week after the Council meeting. Staff already have collected data from the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services and will also collect data from DADS and the Texas Education Agency.

9. Review of Position Statements

Cassie Fisher led a discussion on Council position statements (PDF, 6 pages) regarding the following issues: Transportation, Children & Families, Right to Privacy and Emergency Preparedness. The committee reviewed proposed changes from Council members and staff made prior to the committee meeting and proposed additional changes for the consideration of the Council.

MOTION: To approve all proposed changes and present revised position statements to the Council.

MADE BY: Amy Sharp

SECOND: Kristen Cox

The motion passed unanimously.

10. Future Projects / State Plan Implementation

Communications Coordinator Melissa Loe led a discussion on the new State Plan objective on Public Awareness Activities. Goal Three of the State Plan calls for the Council to conduct two ongoing educational activities in collaboration with other organizations and businesses to provide culturally responsive services for people with disabilities. The Committee discussed several options for public information activities and asked staff to further research public awareness on accessible parking.

MOTION: To gather more information regarding the topic of accessible parking for Goal Three of the State Plan and have staff report in May 2012 on public information efforts that are already occurring and/or if there are any planned.

MADE BY: Kristen Cox

SECOND: Lora Taylor

The motion passed, with Amy Sharp voting no.


There being no further business, Rivas adjourned the meeting at 4:40 PM.

Roger A. Webb, Secretary to the Council