Under The Dome: Disability Bills

Syed Hassan

Texas Democrats with Disabilities requests your support for upcoming bills, that according to its chair, Joey Gidseg, are life and death matter for Texans.  “We need Texans from around the state to call or email the members of house and senate committees and ask for these bills to be given hearings and voted out of committee – and you can help!”.

After being properly filed and sponsored by House or Senate members, a bill goes to relevant committees and from there to the floor of each chamber for all members there to vote on. If the House and Senate bills differ in any way, it is then sent to a reconciliation committee to be agreed upon or reconciled. The reconciled bill is then resubmitted to both chambers to authorize the changes made during the reconciliation.  The final bill is then voted on again and, once passed, it is submitted to the Governor for final review and either signed or vetoed by the Governor.

Joey Gidseg testifying to Senate Committee to not cut funding on special education

These bills move fast from committee to floor to bicameral reconciliation and on to final signatures.  Mx. Gidseg works hard to keep track of these, and other bills requested by our Disability Caucus.  Here are few of the most important bills at various stages currently in committee, on the floor or waiting for the Governor’s adjudication.

HB 4479  asks for the establishment of a grant program and task force relating to address disaster issues affecting persons who are elderly and persons with disabilities. The bill recommends an 11-member task force comprised of people with disabilities, or parents with disabled children. The task force will recommend improvement’s in the rescue process of people with various disabilities in terms of information, transportation, accommodation and communication. This bill is in the “Homeland Security & Public Safety” committee.

HB 4483 asks for additional peace officer education and training concerning individuals with disabilities. The bill asks for police officer’s training on handling and communicating with people with disabilities and elderly within two years of their commission as an officer. This is an incredibly important for Texas, but at this point could die in the committee. This bill is also in “Homeland Security & Public Safety” committee.

HB 3769 creates a single point of contact for Disability programs and services. The bill which is authored by Representative Yvonne Davis will establish a pilot program where people with disabilities can connect to a single agency for all their needs from state agencies

HB 4476 Relates to civil liability for abuse or exploitation of an elderly person or person with a disability. Authorizes civil liability for abuse and exploitation of an elderly or disabled individual. This important bill because currently, an elderly or a person can not sue for damages against abusers, exploiters including, care givers, nursing homes or other corporate entities. The bill is authored by Representative Yvonne Davis is voted affirmatively by 9 to 0 in Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence and is heading to the floor for a vote. This is an important bill to follow as it needs a counterpart senate bill to pass as well. Passing this bill will be a historic win for people with disabilities

HB 2375 expands access to governmental proceedings by ensuring that online videos are captioned. This bill will require all state government videos including Health and Human Services meetings to include close caption translations for deaf individuals. The bill is in Human Services committee and is authored by Representative Terry Meza

Among other important bills:

  •  HB 4462 the establishment of a task force to study issues affecting persons with disabilities, including legal representation, advocacy, and for persons with disabilities, including communication, financial, medical, and cognitive barriers.  Issues that are essential and must get hearings.
  • HB 3362 would add people with disabilities to the list of those considered part of an underutilized business that have suffered from discriminatory practices.
  • HB 3775 would require all Correctional Officer’s be fully trained on mental disability issues.
  • HB 4125 creates a right-to-counsel for the disabled that are facing eviction and goes a long way towards addressing the justice gap between disabled tenants and non-disabled tenants.

Please share this information with all who want to help make a difference for Texans with Disabilities. Call your representative to support these bills. If you don’t know who represents you, find out here 

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