An Austin assisted living facility for people with disabilities won’t close until 2019 under a major agency overhaul initially approved by the Texas House on Saturday.
Senate Bill 204 by state Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, is a package of structural changes to the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS). The bill originally would have closed the Austin State Supported Living Center in 2017, but an amendment tacked onto the measure Saturday by state Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin, delays closure of the Austin institution until 2019.
Workman’s amendment, which passed 127-10, also calls for a study to explore other uses for the building when the living center does close.
"With this amendment, I am not advocating for the status quo," Workman said. "The opposite is true. I am advocating for positive change.”
State Rep. Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock, a member of the commission, opposed the two-year delay and told Workman that the Austin site has a “long history of noncompliance with basic safety and care measures.”
“We looked at this long and hard for a long time,” Gonzales said. “This particular facility has problems. It has a history of problems, and more recently, it has a problem of not fixing these problems.”
SB 204 also calls for other living centers to be identified for closure. Carried in the House by state Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, D-Laredo, the measure passed tentatively 122-3 with more than a dozen amendments.
Reporter Patrick Svitek contributed to this story.