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Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa: District 20
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Press Release
May 31, 2015
Contact: Jennifer Saenz
(512) 463-0120 office
(512) 497-9411 cell
SB 204 Sunset Legislation for the Department of Aging and Disability Services Fails to Pass

AUSTIN - Today, Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa announces that SB 204 has failed to pass the Texas Legislature. SB 204 was the Sunset legislation for the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS), the state agency that provides and regulates long-term care services for people with disabilities and the aging.

SB 204 would have strengthened DADS' enforcement authority over nursing homes and other long-term healthcare providers who serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), provided increased support for people with IDD in the community, and placed more scrutiny on day habilitation facilities serving people with IDD.

Senator Hinojosa issued the below statement:

"SB 204 has invoked an outpouring of emotions regarding the potential closure of our state's SSLCs, particularly the Austin SSLC. It is an emotional issue and I have personally listened to hundreds of public comments and concerns -- many wishing to shut some down, while others fighting to keep them all open. While it is an emotional issue, the state is putting our SSLC residents at risk.

I am disappointed that the House has refused to negotiate further to reach a compromise with this legislation. The result is that no Restructuring Commission will be formed and many good provisions for our IDD population have been lost. The population of all SSLCs statewide has decreased from 13,700 residents to just 3,600 and it is a challenge as we attempt the transition to more community based services.

The reality is that we need a solution that recognizes the critical services that our SSLCs provide to many of our residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, but that also addresses the safety and quality control issues of our most vulnerable citizens.

My concern is with the health and safety of these residents. None of our 13 SSLCs are in compliance with the Department of Justice agreement to improve the care of residents and all of them have severe immediate jeopardy findings including abuse and neglect.

Doing nothing is not a solution."

Texas houses 13 SSLCs that are state-run institutional facilities for people with IDD that are campus-based 24 hour direct services residential facilities. However, in the past few years there have been grave concerns with the safety and neglect of residents, poor quality of care, aging and unsafe infrastructures, and enormous budget costs associated with these facilities, as well as the rapidly declining number of residents housed here.

SB 204 would have required DADS to close the Austin SSLC by August 2017 because it has had the most serious and repeated health and safety violations of any SSLC in Texas. Its difficulty meeting the minimum standards has threatened its federal certification and funding and, more importantly, the safety of its residents.

The progression of SB 204 began early last summer as the Sunset Advisory Commission held various hearings with hundreds of people testifying and Senator Hinojosa chairing the workgroup that specifically worked to develop a plan for the future of Texas' SSLCs. The recommendations of that workgroup were unanimously adopted by the full Sunset Advisory Commission last fall and those recommendations formed the basis for SB 204.

Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa proudly represents the counties of Nueces, Jim Wells, Brooks, and Hidalgo (part). Senator Hinojosa serves as the Senate President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate in the 84th Texas Legislature. Senator Hinojosa currently serves as Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, and serves on the Senate Committees on Natural Resources & Economic Development, Criminal Justice, Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs as well as the Legislative Budget Board (LBB), and the Sunset Advisory Commission.