Monday, July 27, 2009

Governor Not Happy That Republicans Held Up Autism Insurance Bill In The House

JEFFERSON CITY — Make no mistake: There will be a battle over an autism insurance mandate bill again next legislative session.

Gov. Jay Nixon made that clear this morning (see live Twitter feed here) at an otherwise uneventful bill signing ceremony in the governor’s office in the state Capitol.

“Next year I’d like to invite everybody back when I sign an autism insurance mandate bill,” Nixon said while signing HB525 and SB 157.

The bills that passed codify into law existing support for parents with autism through five regional centers. But what lawmakers really wanted was a bill to mandate insurance coverage for kids with autism. The bill was blocked by House Speaker Ron Richard, and Nixon made it clear he’ll use the “full force and power” of the governor’s office (and his “stunning personality”) to make sure it doesn’t happen again next session. “The bill should have had a vote on the floor of the House and it didn’t,” Nixon said. “The people deserve to see the green and reds,” he continued, referring to the color of lights on the representatives voting buttons, green for yes, red for no. There are no excuses for the House of Representatives to not take a public vote. … They don’t have any arguments against it. The only argument is that the insurance industry didn’t want it.”

House Communications - News

7/17 - Speaker Appoints Interim Committee on Autism Spectrum Disorders
Jefferson City Missouri House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin, announced the creation of an Interim Committee on Autism Spectrum Disorders. This committee is charged with the responsibility of reviewing and making recommendations on issues pertaining to the regulation of insurance and other matters impacting the lives of those diagnosed with Autism.

"We have spent months gathering facts and researching what answers are most effective in aiding Missourians with Autism," said Speaker Richard. "I am tasking the members of the Interim Committee on Autism Spectrum Disorders with finding a responsible, effective solution that all sides can agree on," he finished.

Richard named Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, R-St. Louis, to chair the committee. As Chairman, Scharnhorst is given the responsibility of directing committee meetings and ensuring that all members work together to find a meaningful legislative solution to the growing Autism epidemic.

"Representative Scharnhorst has been an advocate for Autism in the past and I am confident that he will continue to be a strong leader on the issue moving forward," said Speaker Richard.

"I thank Speaker Richard for his dedication to this matter and for asking me to chair the Interim Committee on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Our members will work together to review the facts and produce progressive measures that will improve the lives of Missouri families who deal with Autism. I am confident that through this interim committee, we will be able to move closer to a definitive solution." said Representative Scharnhorst.

The interim committee will hold hearings in the coming weeks.

In addition to Rep. Scharnhorst, the committee is made up of the following members:

Representative Dwight Scharnhorst, R-St. Louis, Chairman
Representative Wayne Cooper, Vice Chairman, Republican, Camden County
Representative Sue Allen, Republican, St. Louis
Representative Ron Casey, Democrat, Jefferson County
Representative Mike Colona, Democrat, St. Louis
Representative Sally Faith, Republican, St. Charles
Representative Jeff Grisamore, Republican, Lee's Summit
Representative Denny Hoskins, Republican, Warrensburg
Representative Tishaura Jones, Democrat, St. Louis
Representative Shelley Keeney, Republican, Marble Hill
Representative Michele Kratky, Democrat, St. Louis
Representative Chris Molendorp, Republican, Belton
Representative Gina Walsh, Democrat, St. Louis
Representative Terry Witte, Democrat, Vandalia

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Interim Committee on Autism Spectrum Disorders

I was deeply saddened to read that Jeff Grisamore was appointed to the Interim Committee on Autism Spectrum Disorders. In my dealings with Representative Grisamore, I have found him to be less than honest. He has met with my group and then taken information back to our school district. He has given false information to the school district about my group. He has even told me that the only way for me to meet with the Superintendent was through him. The Superintendent quickly informed me that Representative Grisamore was overstepping his authority.

Representative Grisamore has used our autistic children as a stepping stone in his career. I would have liked to see someone with more integrity on the committee. It also would have been nice if the Kansas City metro area were represented better. Our children needs are many and education is probably the biggest obstacle. Representative Grisamore will never address that because he is endorsed by the school district, NEA, and many, many more principal, teacher, and school administration organizations.

I would be glad to share more details, if you would like to see them. I don’t say these things without merit or proof. It is sad that our children are being used in this manner and that the only outcome will be Jeff Grisamore earning more accolades.