For this weekly feature, the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) profiles a noteworthy bill that is currently going through the legislative process. The bill may relate directly to TCDD’s Public Policy Priorities or another disability-related issue.
Bill: Senate Bill (SB) 1017, relating to the creation of the advisory council on postsecondary education for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Bill Author: Sen. Beverly Powell, Senate District 10 (Tarrant County)
What does the bill do?
SB 1017 would establish an advisory council within the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) that would focus on improving higher education opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The council’s work would include:
- evaluating and recommending policies and practices that increase the access to higher education opportunities for people with IDD,
- developing educational outreach materials to increase community awareness, and
- addressing barriers to postsecondary education for people with IDD who are currently or have been in foster care.
Every two years, the council would report its findings and recommendations to THECB and state leaders.
Statement from the bill author, Sen. Beverly Powell:
“[SB 1017 establishes] an advisory council for families, advocates, and agencies to evaluate postsecondary education policies affecting people with IDD. The advisory council would examine and formulate education policies for people with IDD and report to the Legislature on methods to remove barriers and increase their access to higher education opportunities.”
Where is the bill in the process?
On March 27, SB 1017 received a public hearing before the Senate Committee on Higher Education and was left pending. When a bill is left pending, this means that the committee did not vote on the bill and it could be considered again at a future committee meeting. The video of the hearing can be found here. (Discussion on SB 1017 begins at the 10:50 mark)
SB 1017 is based on the following December 2018 recommendation from the Texas Policy Council for Children and Families:
Build upon House Bill 1807, 84th Legislature, which requires Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to establish and maintain an inventory of all postsecondary educational programs and services provided for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities on its website and submit the inventory to the Texas Education Agency for inclusion in the Texas Transition and Employment Guide.
Who supports the bill and why?
The comments below were taken from the bill’s public hearing on March 27.
- CTD: Chris Masey, Senior Public Policy Specialist with the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD), sees SB 1017 as the jumpstart needed to increase higher education opportunities in Texas. The advisory council would help the state keep pace with the national trend of more and more higher education programs for students with IDD. Masey specifically referenced the new four-year Aggie Achieve program, which opens at Texas A&M in the fall, and how it could pave the way for similar programs at other schools. He also stressed that SB 1017 will help promote personal and financial independence for people with IDD.
Who opposes the bill and why?
No opposition to the bill has been identified at this time.
- TCDD: Ashley Ford, Public Policy & Communications Specialist for TCDD, submitted written testimony to provide background information on the bill. TCDD has funded grants for higher education projects that have proven to be successful in increasing accessibility of opportunities for people with IDD. She stated that the creation of an advisory council would be beneficial in fostering collaboration between schools and the government in pursuit of the common goal of inclusivity and accessibility.
How much will the bill cost?
According to the Legislative Budget Board, SB 1017 will have no significant fiscal impact on the State.
Is there a House companion to the bill?
An identical bill, House Bill (HB) 3932 by Rep. Bobby Guerra, has been referred to the House Committee on Higher Education. It has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
For the latest information about where SB 1017 is in the process, follow the bill on the Texas Legislature Online. To receive future legislative updates from TCDD, subscribe to TCDD eNews or follow us on Twitter.
Update: HB 1139
HB 1139, relating to the applicability of the death penalty to a capital offense committed by a person with an intellectual disability, has been reported favorably out of the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence on a vote of 6-1. It will now be sent to the Calendars Committee and await placement for consideration by the full Texas House. This bill was profiled as a previous TCDD Bill of the Week.