On Wednesday, Wendy Davis, Leticia Van de Putte, and Sam Houston spoke at the Texas Disabilities Issues Forum to an audience of more than 300 attendees. The Democratic candidates underscored their support of higher wages for home attendants and legislation that would help protect civil rights of people with disabilities.
Noticeably absent from the forum were Republican candidates Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and Ken Paxton, whom the forum organizers encouraged to speak.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities repeatedly asked the GOP candidates to attend the forum, even going so far as to offer to change the format of the forum to accommodate them. However, none of Republicans showed up.
In fact, only one candidate, Attorney General Greg Abbott, submitted the organization’s candidate survey on disability issues.
In his response, Abbott defended the state using sovereign immunity to avoid adherence to the Americans with Disabilities Act, because waiving sovereign immunity “would be overly broad and could expose the state to excessive costs.”
The week before the forum, Bob Kafka of ADAPT of Texas spoke at a news conference in an attempt to encourage Abbott, Patrick, and Paxton to show up.
“We can’t force them to come,” he said. “You can lead a horse to water, but so far, right now, they’re not drinking.”
At the forum, Sen. Van de Putte emphasized the importance of funding special education programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities, as well as ensuring that people with disabilities and their caretakers are paid a living wage.
The 2014 Texas Democratic Party platform included a plank on defending the rights of Texans with disabilities.
“Texas Democrats want all Texans with disabilities, including veterans, to have a sustainable quality of life in the least restrictive environment possible and to have accessible community settings that are functional to their everyday life,” the plank reads.
The platform supports enforcement of the protections within the Americans with Disabilities Act, opposes cuts to Medicaid, and promotes access to early diagnosis of disabilities.
Natalie tweets from @nsanluis.