The 82nd Texas Legislature: Update and Implications for Social Workers Susan P. Milam, Ph.D., LMSW Director of Government Relations National Association of Social Workers/Texas Chapter July 22, 2011
National Association of Social Workers/Texas Chapter Board NASW/Texas will advocate for actions that will enable professional social workers to provide high quality, effective services to strengthen Texas communities.
TheMessage Social Workers are critical to assist Texans obtain, retain, or regain their independence and self-sufficiency.
Ethics • Our ethics of social justice and political advocacy make us different from other disciplines • Our mission is to enhance well-being and help to meet the basic needs of all persons, especially those who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty • We promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of our clients • Our core values: service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, competence • Political action, lobbying, and advocacy thus is a unique and essential component to social work
Social Workers in Politics • Necessary to reassert our role in social welfare policy • Necessary to represent populations who are marginalized and hold little power • Necessary to stabilize authority, rights, and power for the social work profession
Social Workers and the Democratic Process “In a democracy, where every vote and voice count, doing nothing is a political act.” Nancy Amidei
Basic Legislative Process • Representative drafts bill and files it. • Speaker of the House assigns bill to a committee. • Committee chair schedules a hearing to hear public testimony for the bill. • Committee issues favorable report on bill. Goes to House floor. • House votes on bill. If it passes, goes to Senate. Start at Step 2 in the Senate. • Senate passes bill. • Governor signs bill.
General Facts about the Texas Legislature • There are 150 Texas Representatives • There are 31 Texas Senators • Both houses are in session for 5 months (January thru May) every odd year • In 2011, 5,796 bills were filed; 1,387 passed • Nearly 80% of all House bills died • About 70% of all Senate bills died • 26% of Republican bills (797) and 19% of Democratic bills (585) were sent to the governor • Governor Rick Perry vetoed 24
Texas 82nd Legislature Demographics House Senate • Male 118 25 • Female 32 6 • Democratic 49 12 • Republican 101 19 • Incumbent 125 29 • Freshman 26 2 • Caucasian 103 22 • African-American 17 2 • Hispanic 28 7 • Asian-American 2 0
Social Workers in the Texas Legislature Elliott Naishtat, Texas Representative • He has served District 49 in Austin since 1990 • Holds social work and law degrees • Worked as VISTA volunteer for LBJ’s War on Poverty
Legislation Originated by NASW/Texas • H.B. 1779, by Representative Elliott Naishtat (S.B. 1188, by Senator Watson) – Private Investigator License • H.B. 823, by Rep. Jessica Farrar (S.B. 1090, by Senator Rodriguez) – Liability Protection • H.B. 2068, by Rep. Elliott Naishtat, (SB 1023, by Senator Rodriguez) – Social Work Center for Workforce Studies
Other Legislation Directly Related to Social Workers • HB 285, Rep. Lucio III – Relating to the employment of certified counselors by school districts. We lobbied to get the Representative to introduce a substitute that would allow school districts to hire a Social Worker in lieu of a Counselor, if the need existed. Unfortunately, this bill did not receive a hearing. • HB 1192, Rep. Castro – Relating to the requirement and study of insurance coverage for serious emotional disturbance of a child. We spoke to staff to advocate for a substitute to include Social Workers as providers in this bill. The bill did not pass, but staff agreed to include us in future discussions. • HB 1797, by Rep. Naishtat – Allows people to sit for the Social Work licensing exam if they are from a school that is a candidate for Social Work accreditation. We testified for this bill in its original form. Sen. Huffman added the text of HB 3331 (see below) which NASW/TX was neutral on – the entire bill PASSED. • HB 3331, by Rep. Coleman – Relating to the exemption of certain persons who teach social work at institutions of higher education from the licensing requirements for Social Workers. This bill was successfully amended onto HB 1797, by Rep. Naishtat (above). • SB 243, by Sen. Patrick – Relating to the re-establishment of the Texas Bleeding Disorders Advisory Council. Adds a Social Worker to the Council – did not pass. • SB 681, by Sen. West – Relating to the establishment of a task force to study the assessments of children in the child welfare system. Includes an NASW member on the task force – Did not pass
Social Work Practice Areas Impacted by Legislation • Child Welfare • Mental Health • Substance Abuse • Poverty • Aging/Geriatrics • Healthcare • Veterans Services • Schools • Juvenile Justice • Homelessness • Social Justice • Immigration • Community Development
Budget Legislation – HB 1 • Cuts Medicaid reimbursement rate for social workers by 5% • Funding for CPS direct delivery staff slightly increased from 2010-2011 levels • Cuts Prevention and Early Intervention funding by 30%; Cuts other At-risk Prevention programs by 74% • Restores funding to Nurse-Family Partnership • Holds most state agency programs to 2010-2011 levels • Creates Texas Juvenile Justice Department • Decreases the average number of Early Childhood Intervention (ECI), requiring DARS to narrow eligibility • Cuts public education by $4 billion • Increases Crime Victim Compensation funds by $4 million • Does not cut rates for doctors, dentists, nursing facilities or community care • Maintains current state and community mental health hospital bed capacity • Underfunds Medicaid services by $4.8 billion
Interim Issues to Address • Reimbursement/Compensation • Increased reimbursement for 90801 • Public sector salaries • Loan Repayment • Underserved areas • Rural and border communities • Practice areas experiencing high growth • Social Work Center for Workforce Studies • Monitor social work practice trends • Advise policy makers on workforce issues • Funded by surcharge on license fees • Effectiveness Research • Liability Protection • School Social Worker Opportunities • Witness Tampering Protection • Funding for Health and Human Services & Education • Protecting our Professional Realm • Grassroots Advocacy
Involvement of NASW/Texas Leadership • Turn passion for social work into passion for advocacy • Learn how • Lead your steering committee • Lead your branch • Involve your membership • Make a difference
How to Do Grassroots Advocacy: Advocate:to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly
Advocacy/Lobbying Strategies and Skills • Use other Social Workers as your power base. • Inform your legislator that other Social Workers are involved in the same process. • Know your issue thoroughly. • Anticipate oppositional claims and formulate persuasive rebuttals. • Think about if the issue you address is better attacked through incremental or fundamental changes. • It takes small steps to get to a biggoal.
What Can I Do… As an individual: • V O T E ! • Write letters, make phone calls, sign petitions to include on line, e-mail, and visit my representative and senator • TELL A FRIEND about this issue, and get their support to include on-line buddies. • Join/Invite others to join NASW. • Join NASW/TX “Take Action Now” List serve • Get involved in a candidate’s race • Run for public office! • Join a NASW Critical Issue Advisory
What Can Our Membership Do ? As part of a statewide movement: • Be an advocate for your area of interest • Plan on attending advocacy days when they are held • Plan on attending a local advocacy activity if you can’t come to the Capitol • Testify at public hearings – in writing or in person
What Can NASW/Texas Leadership Do ? Lead the way to make Texas a better place for the social work profession, for social workers, and for individuals, families and communities.
Advocacy Packet and Schedule • Individual legislator information • Issue summaries • Letter templates • Petition templates • Phone call scripts • Postcards • Action plan • List of activities
Postcard Advocacy • U. S. Officials • Sen. Cornyn • Sen. Hutchison • Your Member in Congress • State Officials • Governor Perry • Your Representative • Your Senator
2011-12 Legislative Action Plan • Aug – Preparation • Sept – Set appt. • Oct – Visit! • Nov – Thank you notes • Dec – Holiday Greetings • Jan – Branch mtgs. • Feb – Letter writing • Mar – Identify candidates & issues • April – Local election work • May – Letter writing • June – Visit!
Possible Local Social Work Advocacy Day/Social Work Month Activities • Request citation from City Council or Commissioner’s Court on local social work contributions to the community; have a social work contingency receive that citation at a council or court meeting that week • Have a letter writing campaign (letters to the editor) to the local paper regarding the many ways social work impacts the community • Host a benefit for a local charity using a local personality and featuring social work/social workers • Ask local paper or news outlet to do a feature on social work • Do a project that gets media attention such as painting someone’s house, getting blankets or socks for the homeless, providing a dinner to the elderly, repairing someone’s home, helping with people’s taxes, etc.
Possible Local Social Work Advocacy Day/Social Work Month Activities continued • Have a Guinness Book of Records attempt, like the most social workers who volunteer at local schools in a day, etc. • Use a major news story of the day or week to point out how social workers can impact that situation for the better • In groups of 3-4, meet with every City Council Member and Commissioner’s Court Member in your community and talk about social work • In groups of 3-4, meet with every state representative and senator in your district(s) • Buy a billboard and promote social work for the day or month • Create a mural about social work and display it at a local mall or gathering place • Compile a book of testimonials from clients who appreciate the work of social workers
Possible Local Social Work Advocacy Day/Social Work Month Activities continued • Reach out to employers who employ lots of social workers and ask for their cooperation and involvement • Give a “Good for Texas” award to a local official or personality who has supported social workers in the past • Have branch members sign a petition in favor of a particular issue and send it to state representatives and senators • Create some local statistics that you can use to impress the public, for example, # of vets receiving services from social workers, # of students seen daily by school social workers, # of elderly receiving APS visits, # of people placed by nursing home social workers, # of mental health visits daily, etc. • Make up your own!!!