News Release from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2007
Contact:Nick Almanza
(512) 463-0121

Senate Passes Senator Zaffirini's CSSB 1870 to Improve the Community Living Options Process

Austin, TX -- The Texas Senate Thursday (April 19) passed the committee substitute for Senate Bill 1870 by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, which would require the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) to contract with local mental retardation authorities (MRA) to implement the community living options process (CLOP) for adults residing in Texas state schools. The bill would ensure the integrity of the process by requiring that it be conducted free of conflicts of interest so it provides maximum benefits for persons with intellectual disabilities who reside in state facilities.

Current law perpetuates a conflict of interest by allowing state school personnel to administer the CLOP to residents aged 22 or older. The CLOP was created to inform persons with intellectual disabilities and related conditions and their legally authorized representatives about alternative community living options.

"This bill ensures that adults with disabilities who are residents of state schools receive complete information regarding their community living options," Senator Zaffirini said. "As legislators we have an obligation to improve and enhance the quality of life for persons who have developmental disabilities. Providing comprehensive information for them and their families is essential to meet this goal, and I am proud to sponsor this legislation."

In 2006 the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigated the Lubbock State School and found that Texas fails to provide community services to persons who reasonably can be accommodated, and, contrary to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, that interdisciplinary teams appear to endorse and promote the retention of persons in state institutions.

CSSB 1870 would enable DADS to respond to DOJ by requiring DADS to contract with local MRAs to develop a more effective community living options information process. What's more, the bill would eliminate the conflict of interest created when state school personnel are responsible for informing residents of their community living options.

The bill must be passed by the House of Representatives before it can be sent to Governor Rick Perry for final approval. The continued progress of this and all bills authored by Senator Zaffirini can be monitored via the internet at www.zaffirini.senate.state.tx.us or by contacting the Texas Legislative Reference Library's toll free in-state hotline, 1-877-824-7038.

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