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 by clicking below:
Issues To Discuss with Your State Legislator and Their Staff
According to current estimates, the state will have an estimated extra $27 billion in its coffers in 2023 over and above the $149 billion in general funds. These monies could help pay for property tax cuts and other legislative priorities. Inflation and high energy prices mean the Texas Legislature will have unprecedented funds to allocate next year. Every legislator will have their “favorite” priorities. Lawmakers have already begun identifying their wish lists, which include items such as:
- lowering property taxes
- funding water and road infrastructure
- expanding broadband internet connectivity
- increasing pay for state employees
- increasing funding for school safety, technology, and facilities
- raises for “teachers”
- passing “voucher” legislation
Nowhere have we seen in remarks by our legislators an intent to address the needs of our university programs or faculty, children and adults with disabilities, increased reimbursement for Medicaid services, or anything related to communication disorders, speech-language pathologists, or audiologists.
- Register to vote by October 11
- Schedule time to vote early or on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8
- Be visible: Schedule a visit with your Senator and Representative
- Be sure the legislator and his/her staff know:
- your profession
- who you are
- where you work in your community
- Explore any connections you may have (relative, church, school, clubs, etc.)
- Share stories of what you do for your community (be mindful of privacy laws)
- Offer to be their contact regarding any issues that arise in the Legislature related to communication disorders (remember that your TSHA Legislative Team is here to help with answers for any questions you don’t know)
- Let the TSHA Legislative Team know of any interesting contacts you make, including information you may have regarding a legislator’s interest or disinterest in items you discuss, e.g., do they have a relative with a disability, professional contact, your relative or close (first-name basis) friend, or school connection
Your Message to Legislators
Teacher Pay Raises:
Let legislators and staff know:
- Speech-language pathologists and audiologists are not specifically identified in the Education Code like nurses, school counselors, and librarians.
- We are critical members of the education team in our schools
- We need to be specifically named in any legislation for teacher raises.
- Give specific examples of what you do for children in your schools.
- Discuss your workload/caseload, such as how many children you are required to provide services for weekly.
- If you must travel between schools, be sure they are aware.
Public School Vouchers
- TSHA opposes the voucher system.
- It makes staffing decisions very difficult for the district.
- It makes funding of special education a challenge because of not knowing how many children with special needs will be attending public schools each year.
- Children with special needs require many varied services, necessitating the services of many different professionals and thusly causing difficult last-minute scheduling issues.
- Parents aren’t always forthcoming with their plans for educational placement of their children and don’t inform the school of their intentions until the last minute or not at all. Voucher flexibility causes many problems listed above.
- It makes planning a nightmare for funding, staffing, and scheduling.
Interstate Compact Bill
A bill we anticipate will be filed by Rep. Ryan Guillen:
- Allows audiologists and speech-language pathologists to practice in other states (currently 23 total) who have passed a Compact bill without going through the process of applying for a separate license and fees in those states. Licensees must be fully licensed in Texas and abide by the licensing rules in the practice state.
- Allows more portability for professionals in Texas to practice elsewhere. Easier to move and gain a license in another compact state
- May help our shortage of speech-language pathologists and audiologists in Texas
- Increases the ease of offering telepractice services between professionals in compact states
- Only licensees who wish to participate must apply and pay the compact license fees.
Any questions regarding this issue of Capitol Watch? Please contact the TSHA Legislative Team.