Dr Sherry Hubbard
The third special session of the Texas Legislature has been adjourned. The year 2021 in Texas has certainly seen its buzz – initial concerns about the state budget, then recertification of the upward provisional budget for fiscal years 2022-2023, major controversy over major legislative issues, three special sessions and l uncertainty of the health and economic recovery. with the second wave of COVID!
However, as I mentioned in my last report, TSHL has had a very productive year with the Texas Legislature. Fifteen of TSHL’s resolutions (recommendations) for seniors in our Legislative Report to the House and Senate have been implemented by enacted law – in whole or in part. The Third Special Session, with the passage of Senate Bill 8, added to three of those successes with additional state funding for retiree health insurance from the Teachers’ Pension System (TRS-CARE ), broadband infrastructure and subsidies to rural hospitals. Federal economic relief funds for coronaviruses have been used in these and other important areas where the economic challenges of COVID have been felt in significant ways. These three areas, in particular, will benefit many older Texans – no increases in health insurance premiums planned for TRS retirees, future extended broadband communication / telemedicine capabilities, and needed support in rural health care.
I recently attended our second of three TSHL sessions for the 2021-2023 biennium in the Austin area. This training and planning session covered key topics including Resolving Research and Writing, TSHL’s process / timeline for approving our resolutions, effective advocacy and collaboration as that building block of advocacy. I had the privilege of leading the resolution research and writing session where we discussed how to get ideas and how to actually write resolutions. I also spoke to a panel on how to testify before congressional committees in person or virtually. In addition, Grace Kelly, legislative director of Representative Gary Van Deaver, gave a keynote address on what citizens need to know about state government, the Texas legislative process, and how to meet with lawmakers and their staff.
The third session will be our TSHL Legislative Session, May 2-5, which will be held on Capitol Hill where we debate, vote and approve final resolutions which are then sent to the State Legislature in the form of our Fourth TSHL Legislative Report. months before the start of the 88th Texas Legislative Session starting in January 2023. Our final task will be to sell our resolution ideas to our lawmakers so that they can be presented as bills in the House and Senate for review and hopefully adoption.
The Concho Valley Area Agency on Aging is well represented in TSHL with seven representatives serving this biennium: Wayne Merrill of San Angelo (TSHL Controller), Gloria Henderson and Sharon Kulig of San Angelo, Cindy Jones and Mary Carlman of Mason , Brigitte Rogers of Sonora, and Dr Sherry Hubbard of Junction (TSHL Speaker Pro Tem).