Legislative Take Action

During a recent Senate Finance Committee hearing, Sen. Charles Schwertner, loomed over a witness testifying on behalf of SSLCs and said,

“Do you know how much your son costs the State of Texas?”

Whoa, now that’s cold.

But it may underscore what’s really at play. So much of the focus has been on the SSLC closure bill SB 602 and rightfully so, but it looks like the Appropriations conference committee is where the real damage could be done

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PART Day at the Capitol!

Last week marked PART’s biennial trek to the Austin State Capitol to promote SSLC’s as an integral component of the continuum of care for the IDD population. It was an enormous success!

The filing of the SSLC closure bill, SB 602 by Sen. Hinojosa, generated a great turnout of enthusiastic and committed family members

“It’s one of the best PART Day at the Capitol we ever had,” says Susan Payne, President of PART. “We found little, if any, support for SB 602, so we were very encouraged.”

A special thanks goes out to state Rep. Paul Workman and Sen. Lois Kohlkorst for offering resolutions in the house and senate honoring PART and supporting SSLCs.

“We so appreciate Rep. Workman and Sen. Kohlkorst for their extraordinary work with supporting SSLCs in this state.


Call the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services and let them know that SB 602 aimed at closing the SSLCs is a bad bill and urge them to oppose it. If you have already called, call again!

Charles Schwertner

Carlos Uresti

Dawn Buckingham  512-463-0124
Konni Burton           512-463-0110
Lois Kolkhorst         512-463-0118
Borris L. Miles         512-463-0113
Charles Perry          512-463-0128
Van Taylor               512-463-0111
Kirk Watson             512-463-0114

Senator Hinojosa Files SSLC Closure Bill – SB 602

Yesterday, Sen. Chuy Hinojosa D-McAllen, filed SB 602 – a bill aimed at closing the State Supported Living Centers of Texas (SSLCs). Senators Schwertner, Campbell and Birdwell signed on as co-authors.

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Open Letter To the Senate Finance Committee

First, I want to thank the members of the Committee for staying late to listen to the testimony of hundreds of Texans with Health and Human Service budget concerns. My daughter, Ashley, and I had the opportunity to speak on behalf of my son and her brother, Justin, who is a resident of the Austin State Supported Living Center.

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Important! Click and listen

Start at 7:30 with Ashley Wallace, continue with Beverly Barrington,
continue with Steve Wallace, continue with Susan Payne

The man you can see asking questions and announcing names is Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, who authored the first Sunset Bill to close our SSLCs, and who has authored the current bill SB206 that is now calling for closure of five SSLCs. The person you cannot see, who is talking to Steve Wallace, is Senator Charles Schwertner, co-author of the bill and adamant advocate for closure.

Click here to see the full video


Speaker Joe Straus


by: Rep. Straus, Joe

AUSTIN – Speaker Joe Straus on Monday formed the House Select Committee on Mental Health in order to take a wide-ranging look at the state’s behavioral health system for children and adults.

Its membership will include legislators from a variety of House committees – such as Appropriations, Public Health, County Affairs, Insurance and Corrections — with jurisdiction over certain mental health issues.

“We have taken some major steps to address the state’s mental health needs,” said Speaker Straus, San Antonio. “It’s important not to look at these issues in isolation, but rather to take a comprehensive view of how to improve the system. Many legislators asked that we take a closer look at various issues related to mental health and it became clear that one committee should look at all of those issues together.”

voting-boardSpeaker Straus named Rep. Four Price of Amarillo the Chair of the committee and made Rep. Joe Moody of El Paso the Vice Chair. The rest of the committee will consist of the following legislators: Reps. Greg Bonnen, Garnet Coleman, Sarah Davis, Rick Galindo, Sergio Muñoz, Andy Murr, Toni Rose, Kenneth Sheets, Senfronia Thompson, Chris Turner and James White.

Speaker Straus has asked the committee to review the behavioral health system, including substance abuse treatment, and recommend ways to improve early identification of mental illness and increase collaboration among entities that deliver care. The committee will also look at how to measure and improve outcomes; examine challenges of providing care in underserved and rural areas of the state; and identify the challenges of providing care to Veterans and homeless Texans.

Legislators increased mental health funding by more than $200 million when they met earlier this year. The current two-year budget appropriates $1.8 billion per year (All Funds) to mental health services.

“We owe it to taxpayers to make sure the system is as effective and efficient as possible,” Speaker Straus said. “The state’s approach to mental health affects everything from our hospitals to our schools to our jails, and that’s why this committee’s work is so important.”

In Bexar County, for example, law enforcement, the judicial system and health providers have worked together to improve care and reduce costs. According to Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau, 700 of the approximately 3,500 people incarcerated in the Bexar County Adult Detention Center are being treated for some type of mental illness. The county has increased mental health screenings and assessments, helping it better identify individuals with mental illness so they can be diverted to treatment programs before they are incarcerated.

“Although addressing the challenges of mental illness is daunting, the timing is right to take action,” Sheriff Pamerleau said. “For the first time in 30 years, reducing incarceration and expanding rehabilitative opportunities for the mentally ill is getting national attention, both in Congress and in the media. We won’t make substantive progress if we don’t address the issue of seriously mentally ill individuals incarcerated in the nation’s jails and prisons.”

Jason Embry
Communications Director
Office of Speaker Joe Straus
512-463-0223 (office)