TITLE 40. SOCIAL SERVICES AND ASSISTANCE

PART 2. DEPARTMENT OF ASSISTIVE AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES

CHAPTER 109. OFFICE FOR DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING SERVICES

SUBCHAPTER C. SPECIALIZED TELECOMMUNICATIONS ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

40 TAC §§109.501, 109.503, 109.505, 109.507, 109.509, 109.511, 109.513, 109.515, 109.517, 109.519, 109.521, 109.523, 109.525, 109.527, 109.529, 109.531, 109.533

The Executive Commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) proposes the repeal of Chapter 109, Subchapter C, concerning Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program, consisting of §§109.501, 109.503, 109.505, 109.507, 109.509, 109.511, 109.513, 109.515, 109.517, 109.519, 109.521, 109.523, 109.525, 109.527, 109.529, 109.531, and 109.533.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

The purpose of the proposal is to update and relocate the Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP) rules from 40 TAC Chapter 109, Subchapter C to 26 TAC Chapter 360, Subchapter C. The relocation of the rules is necessary to implement Senate Bill 200, 84th Legislature, Regular Session, 2015, which transferred the functions of the legacy Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) to HHSC. The new rules are proposed simultaneously elsewhere in this issue of the Texas Register.

SECTION-BY-SECTION SUMMARY

The proposed repeal of 40 TAC Chapter 109, Subchapter C deletes the STAP rules in 40 TAC and updates and relocates them to 26 TAC Chapter 360.

FISCAL NOTE

Trey Wood, Chief Financial Officer, has determined that for each year of the first five years that the rules will be in effect, enforcing or administering the rules does not have foreseeable implications relating to costs or revenues of state or local governments.

GOVERNMENT GROWTH IMPACT STATEMENT

HHSC has determined that during the first five years that the rules will be in effect:

(1) the proposed rules will not create or eliminate a government program;

(2) implementation of the proposed rules will not affect the number of HHSC employee positions;

(3) implementation of the proposed rules will result in no assumed change in future legislative appropriations;

(4) the proposed rules will not affect fees paid to HHSC;

(5) the proposed rules will create new rules;

(6) the proposed rules will repeal existing rules;

(7) the proposed rules will not change the number of individuals subject to the rules; and

(8) the proposed rules will not affect the state's economy.

SMALL BUSINESS, MICRO-BUSINESS, AND RURAL COMMUNITY IMPACT ANALYSIS

Trey Wood, Chief Financial Officer, has also determined there is no adverse small business, micro-business, or rural community impact related to the repeal of the proposed rules. The new proposed rule does not impose any additional costs on small business, micro-businesses, or rural communities that are required to comply with the rules.

LOCAL EMPLOYMENT IMPACT

The proposed rules will not affect a local economy.

COSTS TO REGULATED PERSONS

Texas Government Code §2001.0045 does not apply to these rules because the rules do not impose a cost on regulated persons.

PUBLIC BENEFIT AND COSTS

Dee Budgewater, Deputy Executive Commissioner for Health, Developmental, and Independence Services, has determined that for each year of the first five years the rules are in effect, the public benefit will be new and updated rules in 26 TAC which provide more choice in equipment selection and in professionals who can certify an application, as well as better services from program providers.

Trey Wood, Chief Financial Officer, has also determined that for the first five years the rules are in effect, there are no anticipated economic costs to persons required to comply with the proposed rule, as there is no requirement to alter current business practices.

TAKINGS IMPACT ASSESSMENT

HHSC has determined that the proposal does not restrict or limit an owner's right to his or her property that would otherwise exist in the absence of government action and, therefore, does not constitute a taking under Texas Government Code §2007.043.

PUBLIC COMMENT

Written comments on the proposal may be submitted to Bryant Robinson, STAP Manager, P.O. Box 12904, Austin, Texas 78711; or by email to DHHS.STAP@hhsc.state.tx.us.

To be considered, comments must be submitted no later than 31 days after the date of this issue of the Texas Register. Comments must be: (1) postmarked or shipped before the last day of the comment period; (2) hand-delivered before 5:00 p.m. on the last working day of the comment period; or (3) emailed before midnight on the last day of the comment period. If last day to submit comments falls on a holiday, comments must be postmarked, shipped, or emailed before midnight on the following business day to be accepted. When emailing comments, please indicate "Comments on Proposed Rule 18R061" in the subject line.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The repeals are authorized by Texas Government Code §531.0055, which provides that the Executive Commissioner of HHSC shall adopt rules for the operation and provision of services by the health and human services agencies. The repeals are also authorized by Texas Utilities Code §56.151, which provides that the Executive Commissioner of HHSC by rule shall establish a specialized telecommunications assistance program to provide financial assistance to individuals with disabilities that impair the individuals' ability to effectively access the telephone network.

The repeals implement Texas Government Code §531.0055 and Texas Utilities Code §56.151.

§109.501.Purpose.

§109.503.Legal Authority.

§109.505.Definitions.

§109.507.Determination of Basic Specialized Telecommunications Equipment or Service.

§109.509.Preliminary and Comprehensive Assessment.

§109.511.Voucher Recipient Eligibility.

§109.513.Persons Authorized to Certify Disability.

§109.515.Vouchers.

§109.517.Determination of Voucher Category Value and Eligibility Criteria for a Voucher.

§109.519.Consumer Confidentiality.

§109.521.Determination of Approved Equipment or Services.

§109.523.Reimbursement Amounts for Approved Equipment or Services.

§109.525.STAP Vendor Eligibility Requirements.

§109.527.STAP Vendor Duties and Responsibilities.

§109.529.Voucher Reimbursement.

§109.531.Suspension or Loss of STAP Vendor Eligibility.

§109.533.Reinstatement of STAP Vendors.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the proposal and found it to be within the state agency's legal authority to adopt.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on December 3, 2020.

TRD-202005221

Karen Ray

Chief Counsel

Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services

Earliest possible date of adoption: January 17, 2021

For further information, please call: (512) 961-3125