Capitol Watch is the TSHA Legislative Team’s vehicle for keeping members informed of activity at the state capitol and in other state regulatory meetings.
If you have questions regarding this or other Capitol Watch postings, please contact a member of the TSHA Legislative Team below:
To-Do List for TSHA Members
- Register to vote by TODAY, October 11.
- Vote on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8.
- If we don't cast a ballot, we don't have a voice. We of all people should know what it means to not have a voice.
- Legislators do care, and they do check who did or did not vote.
- When there is a bill being voted on in a committee hearing or on the floor of the Senate or House, a legislator may check with their staff to find out if there is any feedback on a bill from their district.
- On major issues, legislators usually will know if constituents have expressed their opinion over multiple visits to their office, phone calls, and emails.
- For non-major issues, legislators often will call their office staff and ask if anyone from the district has weighed in on the issue. They often will ask if it is a known person, e.g., campaign worker, friend, etc. They also will ask if that person voted.
- As we have experienced, legislators generally know very little about issues that affect our professions and the people we serve. It is imperative that we do a better job of being VISIBLE as professions. If a legislator, family member, or friend has never experienced a communication disorder, it isn’t likely that they will take a personal interest in any related legislation. It is our job to inform them of issues related to communication disorders that occur in their district and the value of licensed speech-language pathologists and/or audiologists in providing quality services. Help our legislators cast knowledgeable votes regarding our issues. Offer to have them call you when bills relating to communication disorders come before the legislature. Be their expert.
Anticipated Legislation in the 88th Legislative Session of Importance to TSHA Members
Teacher Pay Raises
- As discussed in the October 5 issue of Capitol Watch, several legislators, as well as the Governor have expressed a desire to pass legislation giving teachers a pay raise. We need an aggressive turnout of the membership telling their senators and representatives to include speech-language pathologists and audiologists by name in any bill relating to teacher pay raises. Now is a good time to start. Don’t wait until the session opens in January.
Public School Vouchers
- TSHA opposes the “voucher” system. Rationale was discussed in the October 5 issue of Capitol Watch.
Interstate Compact Bill
- As discussed in the October 5 Issue of Capitol Watch, the bill will be part of the package of bills that TSHA is promoting for passage. Representative Ryan Guillen carried the bill for us in the 87th Legislative Session and it passed the House and stalled in the Senate. The TSHA Legislative Team is seeking a Senate sponsor for the bill. This is a bill that would probably be considered a “non-major” bill that we will need to educate legislators on its need and value to Texas. Legislators will need to understand why it is “major” to our professions and our clients.
ABA Study Bill
- Representative Theresa Meza introduced HB 4058 during the last legislative session to (1) determine the cost of applied behavior analysist (ABA) services across all public benefit programs including Medicaid, and child health plan programs, and other health and human services; and (2) determine the efficacy of ABA services provided to children with autism. Rep. Meza intends to re-file the bill next session, and TSHA will again support the bill.
- TSHA will monitor bills related to telehealth and support those that ensure the professions are included in continued reimbursement.
- Sen. Nathan Johnson and Rep. Drew Darby introduced newborn infant hearing screening bills last session. It is anticipated that the bills will be refiled and TSHA will support the bills that close loopholes in follow up testing and reporting protocols.
- Despite the fact that the state is predicted to have an extra $27 billion in its coffers to spend, Medicaid always seems to take a hit when budgeting for Medicaid providers rates. TSHA will monitor bills filed related to reimbursement issues and particularly those related to the proposed state budget in Senate Finance and House Appropriations.
Music Therapist Licensure
- Music therapists have filed a bill seeking licensure in the past two legislative sessions. ASHA has asked TSHA to oppose the bill each session.
TRS – COLA
- Rep. Anchia has indicated an interest in filing a bill this session authorizing cost of living adjustment (COLA) payments for TRS retirees. TSHA will follow the lead of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) regarding passage of this legislation.
- TSHA considered finding sponsors for a bill but has decided to delay seeking passage of such legislation until the 2025 session. In the interim we will develop facts concerning the issue and determine the level of member interest.
- The professions licensure is not scheduled for Sunset Review this session. The TSHA Legislative Team will monitor filed legislation for any evidence of efforts to encroach on our scope of practice.
State Employees Pay Raises
- TSHA will monitor legislation to give a pay raise to state employees and work to ensure speech-language pathologists and audiologists employed by state agencies are included.
Questions or Concerns?
If the TSHA Legislative Team and Executive Board have omitted any issues you feel we should be addressing, or if you have any questions regarding this issue of Capitol Watch, please contact the TSHA Legislative Team. Please be visible and support TSHA legislative efforts. It takes a village to be successful.