Bill to Close Austin State Supported Living Center Dead

House and Senate negotiators fail to compromise on bill

Bill to Close Austin State Supported Living Center Dead
Photo by Jana Birchum

While it at one point seemed like a done deal, a bill that would have led to the eviction of roughly 200 local residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities died Sunday at the hands of House and Senate negotiators.

SB 204, a Department of Aging and Disabilities restructuring bill, would have forced the closure of the Austin State Supported Living Center by 2017 and created a commission to determine how many and which of the remaining 12 SSLCs to close. While it sailed through the Senate in April, SB 204 was met with more friction during its House debate on May 23. Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin, offered an amendment to delay closure of the SSLC while a late-filed amendment by Rep. Susan King, R-Abilene, completely scrapped any mention of the state supported living center’s closure. The amended version overwhelmingly passed the House.

The modified legislation then fell to House and Senate conference committee members, who were unable to reach an agreement Sunday. According to a release from Workman, Hinojosa and other senators refused to accept the House changes. “I am disappointed that the House has refused to negotiate further to reach a compromise with this legislation,” said bill author Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, in a statement. “…My concern is with the health and safety of these residents.”

However, for guardians of SSLC residents the bill’s demise ensures their loved ones’ health and safety, as they consider community and group home settings unfit and even dangerous for their severely disabled family members.

“We are very pleased and very happy,” said Nona Rogers, guardian of her brother, an SSLC resident diagnosed with Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s. “We are so grateful to the legislators who really studied the issue and realized the great need for the kind of care our loved ones need.” For the past year Rogers and a small group of dedicated guardians helped spearhead a coalition that ballooned to roughly 100 activists who organized rallies against the closure and personally visited with lawmakers during the Legislative session. “We can all feel great relief now,” said Rogers.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More 84th Texas Legislature
<i>American Crime</i> Going Back to Cali
American Crime Going Back to Cali
TV show departs Austin over incentives

Richard Whittaker, June 22, 2016

Hearing or Anti-Abortion Attack?
Hearing or Anti-Abortion Attack?
AG leads criminal and civil investigation of Planned Parenthood

Mary Tuma, July 29, 2015

More Austin State Supported Living Center
House Delays Closure of Austin SSLC
Austin SLLC Closure Delayed
Amendment scraps SSLC closure

Mary Tuma, May 23, 2015

Senate Votes to Close Austin State Supported Living Center
Senate Votes to Close Austin SSLC
Despite guardian opposition, Senate passes bill to close Austin SSLC

Mary Tuma, April 14, 2015

More by Mary Tuma
Abortion Care Providers “Heartened” After SB 8 Hearing at SCOTUS
Abortion Care Providers “Heartened” After SB 8 Hearing at SCOTUS
Oral arguments focus on law’s vigilante enforcement

Nov. 5, 2021

Abortion Care Providers “Heartened” After SB 8 Hearing at SCOTUS
Abortion Care Providers “Heartened” After SB 8 Hearing at SCOTUS
Oral arguments focus on law’s vigilante enforcement

Nov. 1, 2021


84th Texas Legislature, Austin State Supported Living Center

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle