Senate Bill (SB) 208, passed by the 84th Texas Legislature, Regular Session (2015), abolishes the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS). Section 25 of the bill amends Title 4 of the Labor Code to add new Subtitle C, including new §351.002. Per §351.002(b)(1), beginning September 1, 2016, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) shall begin administering the following services and programs operated by DARS before that date under the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. sections 720 through 751): the vocational rehabilitation program for individuals with visual impairments; the vocational rehabilitation program for individuals with other disabilities; the Independent Living Services program for older individuals who are blind; and the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center. Per §351.002(b)(2), beginning on September 1, 2016, TWC shall also administer the program for vending facilities operated by blind persons under Chapter 355, including the Business Enterprises Program under the Randolph-Sheppard Act (20 U.S.C. Section 107 et seq.), that DARS operated prior to September 1, 2016.
Per Section 33(b) of the bill, after a transfer of services and program occurs under the bill, a rule that relates to a transferred service or program is a rule of TWC and remains in effect until altered by TWC. Under SB 208, the transfer of services and programs becomes effective September 1, 2016.
However, certain rules are shared by programs which are transferred to TWC under SB 208, as well as programs which are remaining at DARS, as part of the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). A wholesale transfer of rules, particularly joint procedural rules shared by multiple programs, would detrimentally affect agency operations. Accordingly, to comply with SB 208, TWC requests that the Texas Register administratively duplicate the relevant chapters and rules identified in the following chart, to ensure full program continuity at each respective agency, and place into new TWC chapters:
Figure: 40 TAC Part 20 (.pdf)