Senator Jane Nelson
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
Fax (512) 463-0923


May 19, 2009
Contact: Dave Nelson (512) 463-0112


AUSTIN — The Texas House of Representatives today approved SB 643, legislation by State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, to better protect Texans with developmental disabilities living in our state schools. The bill returns to the Senate with amendments before it can be sent to the governor.

"This legislation will see to it that our state school residents receive proper care from staff who are better trained. It also establishes an independent oversight structure and calls for the use of video surveillance to serve as a strong deterrent against abuse or neglect," Senator Nelson said. "This vulnerable population deserves the best possible care and our protection from harm."

Texas has been working to improve conditions in its state schools since reports surfaced of widespread abuse, neglect and misconduct. The Department of Justice has been investigating these issues since 2005. SB 643 establishes an Office of Independent Ombudsman to audit state schools biannually and serve as a confidential intermediary for parents, clients and guardians. Additionally, this legislation:

The cost of SB 643 as it left the Senate was about $20.9 million over the next two years. The House added several amendments, which Senator Nelson is reviewing, that could increase the overall cost. When a bill returns to the Senate with amendments, the Senate author may either move to concur with House amendments or request a conference committee to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

SENATOR JANE NELSON represents District 12, including portions of Tarrant and Denton Counties. She is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services.