Advocacy Updates – Texas 87th Legislature
THANK YOU! Thanks to your efforts, the Autism Society of Texas was successful in several areas during the 87th Legislative session! Below is a summary of bills that became law.
SPECIAL SESSION begins on July 8! The topics have not yet been designated, but it is expected that voting bills that have the potential to negatively impact disability voting rights will be on the call. Thankfully the discriminatory bill that was proposed (SB 7) in the Regular Session did not pass. However, we expect that bill to be the foundation for the next proposed legislation. Two more special sessions are also expected with one on distributing federal funds and the other on redistricting in the fall. We will keep you updated on new developments!
HB 1, Rider 21 | Fund the ABA/IBI Medicaid Benefit
HB 1, Rider 21 would ensure the ABA/IBI Medicaid benefit would be funded and that services can begin September 1, 2021.
Final Status: ABA was included, but at a greatly reduced funding amount. Language was included to ensure that the Health and Human Services Commission would implement ABA services as soon as practicable, but not later than February 1, 2022.
Cannabis Compassionate Use Program
HB 567 | Protects Children Participating in the Compassionate Use Program from Being Removed from Their Home by Child Protective Services
HB 567 adds a new limitation on removals under Family Code, Section 262.116, that testing positive for marijuana use alone is not sufficient for removing a child from his or her home. Read the full bill text here: https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/87R/billtext/html/HB00567F.htm
Final Status: HB 567 was signed in the Senate and the House, then sent to the Governor. The bill was filed without the Governor’s signature on 5/15/2021, and will go into effect 9/1/2021.
HB 1535 | Expand Texas Compassionate Use Act
HB 1535 expands the list of medical conditions and patients that qualify for low-THC medical cannabis prescriptions, increases the amount of permitted THC in medicines, and creates access for patients with debilitating medical conditions designated by the Department of State Health Services. Read the full bill text here: https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/87R/billtext/html/HB01535F.htm
Final Status: HB 1535 was signed by Governor Abbott on 6/15/2021, and will go into effect on 9/1/2021.
HB 1252 | Expand Time Limit to Request Special Education Due Process Hearing
HB 1252 would align Texas law with federal law by expanding the statute of special education due process hearings from one year to two years. This would help parents and students with disabilities by expanding their ability to seek redress once they learn what their rights are and makes seeking redress an option available to them. Read the full bill text here: https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=87R&Bill=HB1252
Final Status: HB 1252 was signed by Governor Abbott on 6/15/2021 and will go into effect on 9/1/2021.
HB 2256 | Will Create Bilingual Special Education Teacher Certification
HB 2256 would create a bilingual special education certification to teach students of limited English proficiency with disabilities. Read the full bill text here: https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/87R/billtext/html/HB02256S.htm
Final Status: HB 2256 was signed by Governor Abbott on 6/15/2021 and will go into effect on 9/1/2021.
SB 89 | Special Education COVID-19 Recovery Act
SB 89 amends current law relating to supplemental information required for inclusion with a written statement of an individualized education program developed for certain public school students who received special education services during the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year. Read the full bill text here: https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=87R&Bill=SB89
Final Status: SB 89 was signed by Governor Abbott on 6/7/2021 and takes effect immediately.
HB 159 | Improve Teacher Training
HB 159 would improve training and staff development for primary and secondary educators to enable them to more effectively serve all students. The bill would specify what each educator is expected to know and be able to do, particularly with regard to students with disabilities. Read the full bill text here: https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=87R&Bill=HB159
Final Status: HB 159 was signed by Governor Abbott on 6/4/2021 and will go into effect on 9/1/2021.
HB 785 | Annual Reviews of Behavioral Intervention Plans
HB 785 amends the Education Code by revising certain rules related to BIPs for students in special education. HB 785 would require that the parent or guardian be notified in writing if their student with a disability has a change in placement or is restrained, including a description of the incident and whether the student’s BIP should be revised to address the behavior that led to the change or restraint. If the student does not have a BIP, then it should also include information on requesting an ARD committee meeting to discuss the possibility of conducting a functional behavioral assessment and developing a plan for the student. This written notification and a record of how it was sent to the parent or guardian would also be placed in the student’s special education eligibility school records. Read the full bill text here: https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=87R&Bill=HB785
Final Status: HB 785 was signed by Governor Abbott on 6/4/2021 and takes effect immediately.
SB 1697 | Allow Parents to Elect for a Student to Repeat or Retake a Course or Grade
SB 1697 requires that students who received a passing grade or earned credit for a high school course retain their original grade even if they retake the course, unless the school district adopts a local policy to the contrary. It also amends current law relating to allowing parents and guardians to elect for a student to repeat or retake a course or grade. Read the full bill text here: https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/87R/billtext/html/SB01697F.htm
Final Status: SB 1697 was signed by Governor Abbott on 6/16/2021 and takes effect immediately.
SB 1716 | Supplemental Funds for Certain Special Education Students
SB 1716 makes permanent the SSES program, so that special education families across Texas have access to additional funding to support their child’s public school education. The filed version of the legislation allows any student in a Texas public school’s special education program to be eligible; however, TEA is directed to give priority to children receiving the compensatory education allotment, those with cognitive disabilities, and those eligible for the alternative STAAR exam. Read the full bill text here: https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/87R/billtext/html/SB01716F.htm
Final Status: SB 1716 was signed by Governor Abbott on 6/18/2021 and takes effect immediately.
SB 40 | Allow Health Professionals to Provide Telehealth Services
SB 40 would clarify the authority of the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR)-regulated health professionals (including speech therapists, occupational therapists, and BCBAs) to provide telehealth services in accordance with Chapter 111, Occupations Code; require a reference to a health professional performing “direct” observation of a patient to include provision of telehealth services; and allow TDLR to adopt rules governing telehealth services offered by its regulated professionals. Read the full bill text here: https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/87R/billtext/pdf/SB00040F.pdf#navpanes=0
Final Status: SB 40 was signed by Governor Abbott on 6/3/2021 and takes effect immediately.
SB 1829 | Provide Electronic Medicaid MCO Directories
SB 1829 requires the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to ensure Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) maintain an accurate electronic directory of contact information for Medicaid recipients enrolled in a managed care plan. MCOs are then required to send an electronic copy of the recipient directory to HHSC monthly to optimize engagement and increase efficiency. Read the full bill text here: https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/87R/billtext/html/SB01829F.htm
Final Status: SB 1829 was signed by Governor Abbott on 6/7/2021 and takes effect immediately.
Restraints are restrictions that immobilize or reduce the ability of a student to move their torso, arms, legs, or head freely. As we all know from painful recent events, control techniques such as chokeholds and face-to-the-ground (also known as prone restraint) can impede breathing and have deadly consequences. Restraints should not be used in lieu of evidence-based practices such as redirection and de-escalation techniques that all staff working with special populations, such as special education students, have been trained in. You can find our full statement on the death of Xavier Hernandez here: https://www.texasautismsociety.org/statement-on-xavier-hernandez/
Please take action by telling federal legislators to support the Keeping All Students Safe Act (KASSA) by completing the action alert here: https://takeaction.autism-society.org/autismsocietyofamerica/app/write-a-letter?0&engagementId=511914
SB 69 | Ban Chokeholds and Prone Restraint by Police Officers
SB 69 prohibits officers from applying deadly pressure to a person’s throat, neck, or torso, blocking a person’s nose or mouth, or impeding a person’s circulation unless the officer is protecting themselves or another person from serious bodily injury or death. Read the full bill text here: https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/87R/analysis/html/SB00069F.htm
Final Status: SB 69 was signed by Governor Abbott on 6/14/2021 and will go into effect on 9/1/2021.