An Update from Your MOWAT Lobby Team

This unprecedented 87th Regular session continues to move forward in a very strange and disrupted fashion. Bills have begun to be referred to committees, although at a much more glacial pace than in past sessions, and House and Senate budget hearings are both underway. 

Health and Human Services (Article II)

We want to thank Barbara Lundgren (Meals on Wheels Texas in Tarrant County), for taking time to testify before the House Appropriations Committee on Article 2, Health and Human Services Commission funding, in the proposed budget bill in the House (House Bill 1).

Barbara shared about the increasing demand for home delivered meals over the last year in addition to challenges providers have faced during the pandemic. She emphasized how being local and community-based has positioned Meals on Wheels programs to be able to leverage those already established relationships in the community. In some areas, programs have been able to partner and coordinate with other entities to expand outreach and ensure that  home delivered meals and safety checks continue while also protecting the health of staff, volunteers, and clients.
Stressing the importance of maintaining current funding levels for the services Meals on Wheels programs provide, Barbara thanked the committee and HHSC for proposed funding and no budget reductions.

Texas Department of Agriculture (Article VI)

We also want to thank Greg Pittman who testified before two committees–the Senate Finance Committee and the House Article VI subcommittee --discussing the Texas Department of Agriculture's (TDA’s) budget. He did a great job, and received very favorable comments. The House version of the Budget provides no cuts to TDA's Texans Feeding Texans - Home Delivered Meals program.  The Senate version, however, does include the nearly 14% cuts as submitted by TDA (after they were requested to identify agency-wide 5% cuts this summer to meet an anticipated shortfall). Both committees voiced their concerns with cutting MOW programs, especially during the pandemic, as well as their appreciation for the hard work and ingenuity you have invested  to take care of the homebound in these scary times. Your lobby team is hopeful that this means we are closer to a fully-funded program, but we must continue to lobby all the legislators until we see the correct numbers reflected in both House and Senate versions of the Budget.
Both Barbara and Greg did a great job representing Meals on Wheels of Texas and Meals on Wheels Association of Texas!

Legislative Update

Work is also continuing on H.B. 1134, by Brooks Landgraf of Odessa, to open the TDA Texans Feeding Texans funding to for-profit companies. There has been a "companion" bill filed in the Senate, which means that the same language is offered in SB 732 by Senator Bryan Hughes of Mineola. Both versions have odd language in them that has been interpreted by TDA staff as a requirement that applicants must contract with AAA or their application will not be considered.  Obviously, this would be very difficult for some of our MOW members!
H.B. 1134 was recently referred to the same committee that it was considered in last session, the House Human Services committee, which is chaired by Chairman James Frank of Wichita Falls. Your lobby team is in contact with members. If you have a personal relationship with a member on the Human Services committee, we encourage you to reach out to your contact to express your opposition.

AAA Manual

Finally, the Health and Human Services Area Agency on Aging Policies and Procedures Manual is now effective and can be viewed here. The rules are proposed in the TX Register, which can be viewed here. Any relevant comments are due on March 22, 2021.  
As always, we are here to help if you have any questions.

- The Meals on Wheels Association of Texas Lobby Team
Copyright © 2021 Meals on Wheels Texas, All rights reserved.

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