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19 March 2010

Rupp: “Senator Spring Break” Means Coming Home to Work for You

This week marks the Legislature's return to Jefferson City from its annual spring break. While the beach and sunshine is what comes to mind for most people, my responsibilities as your senator only allowed for Missouri sunshine, and I was fortunate that there was a little of it during this time off.

The weekend started off well spending time with my children and attending a friend's birthday party. Working in Jefferson City keeps me away from some of the important moments in my family and friends' lives, but they are never far from my mind. Any chance I get to spend my free time with them is a true treasure.

By March 9, I was meeting with a very large crowd at the O'Fallon Chamber of Commerce. O'Fallon is consistently ranked as one of the top cities in the entire country to raise a family, and it's easy to see why by the turnout from these great business leaders.

The national healthcare issue was on the agenda for March 10. Even though the President of the United States brought out a large crowd in St. Louis, there was a big crowd just across the street protesting the president's federal takeover of health care. I'm proud to say I joined the thousands at the St. Charles Convention Center, my colleagues in state and federal government, and millions of Missourians that reject the federal infringement in our lives.

By Friday, March 12, I was meeting with a group of senior citizens to discuss strategies to cope with the prior day's announcement that the governor was cutting $1.1 million from the Meals on Wheels program. Since then, the governor has admitted the budget he submitted is not balanced, and by not proposing any solutions, he's leaving it to the Legislature to do the "dirty work" and get our state back on track. You can rest assured that I will do everything in my power to keep our state's priorities straight and do as little harm as possible to our schools and our seniors. If you visit my senate website, you'll find "Control, Alt, Delete," a place for constituents to give suggestions on ways to reform and restructure government for greater accountability to you, the taxpayers.

To conclude my week, I participated in the Cottleville St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 13, and it's always a pleasure to meet and greet so many citizens from the district. My daughter, Noelle, really got a kick out of driving her little jeep in the parade and decorating it to match the day's festivities. It's a memory I'll never forget.

But now it's time to get back to work.

Senate Says "Yes" to Insurance Coverage for Autism

Bill Securing Insurance for Autism-Related Services Advances

Missouri families with children on the autism spectrum disorder are one step closer to being guaranteed that health carriers will provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. The Missouri Senate voted 26-6 today to advance Senate Bill 618, which I sponsored, to the House for similar consideration.

Autism is the only disorder out of the top 10 childhood neurobiological disorders that is not covered by health insurance.  It's been a long road to get to this point. This is an important day for Missouri families that struggle with autism. The legislation that the Senate approved today is fair for everyone, and most importantly, it gets families the help they need.

The bill would require most health carriers that issue or renew health benefit plans to provide coverage for diagnosis and treatment of individuals with autism. It would restrict health carriers from refusing to issue or renew coverage based solely on the fact of an autism diagnosis. The proposed insurance coverage would include a physician or psychiatrist's referral of ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy — up to $55,000 per year for individuals under the age of 21.

Senate Leader Charlie Shields, said early diagnosis and intervention is reported as the key to making sure children on the spectrum can have the best quality of life possible.

"We have worked to make prevention and early diagnosis a cornerstone of health care in Missouri," Sen. Shields said. "By passing this bill, we are making sure the same is true for these children."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism strikes one out of 91 children in this country — more than AIDS, juvenile diabetes and cancer, combined.

Senator Schmitt has been a strong supporter working to advance the legislation. He has also shared his family's personal experiences with his young son, Stephen, who falls on the autism spectrum.

"Children on the autism spectrum deal with so many challenges each and every day," Schmitt said. "These proven therapies are the difference between whether a family can go to a restaurant without having to leave early, the difference between a child having meaningful friendships. We owe it to these families to give their children the opportunity to reach their full potential. Put simply, this bill is the right thing to do and the right time to do it."

The Senate advanced a similar bill last year that later stalled in the House.  Go to my Senate Website, Multi-Media page at: to listen to my closing remarks on the bill.

"Rebooting Government"

In other news this week, Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields announced that next Tuesday, March 23, the Senate will dedicate a full work day to discuss ideas relating to the Senate's new "Rebooting Government" initiative in lieu of holding committee hearings.

With the state's budget situation requiring difficult decisions to be made by the Legislature (the Legislature must submit a budget to the governor by May 7), the Senate recently launched the Rebooting Government program on the Senate website, which invites Missourians to share their ideas for how to rework state government. Next week's work day event is designed for groups of senators to review and discuss the suggestions received and then submit at least five ideas they agree upon to be introduced in legislation or through the budget process.

Eight groups of four senators each will meet to examine ideas in the following categories: Agriculture/Outdoors/Department of Natural Resources, Courts/Legal/Department of Public Safety, Education, General Government/Office of Administration, Retirement, Social Programs, Tax Structure, and Transportation.

The groups will all meet Tuesday morning. Public notices will be posted relaying the location of each group meeting, and although public testimony will not be taken, all working groups are open to the public.

Missourians may continue submitting their ideas by visiting the Senate's website at and clicking on the Rebooting Government logo. Submissions may be anonymous, and ideas will continue to be accepted throughout the legislative session.

Working groups and the senators assigned to each (in alphabetical order) include:

Agriculture/Outdoors/Department of Natural Resources

Sen. Frank Barnitz, D-Lake Spring
Sen. Dan Clemens, R-Marshfield
Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia
Sen. Wes Shoemyer, D-Clarence

Courts/Legal/Department of Public Safety

Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee's Summit
Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mt. Vernon
Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City
Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter


Sen. Rita Days, D-St. Louis
Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg
Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin
Sen. Yvonne Wilson, D-Kansas City

General Government/Office of Administration

Sen. Tim Green, D-St. Louis
Sen. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis
Sen. Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville
Sen. Carl Vogel, R-Jefferson City


Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau
Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield
Sen. John Griesheimer, R-Washington
Sen. Joe Keaveny, D-St. Louis

Social Programs

Sen. Joan Bray, D-St. Louis
Sen. Norma Champion, R-Springfield
Sen. Scott T. Rupp, R-Wentzville
Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale

Tax Structure

Sen. Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles
Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah
Sen. Chuck Purgason, R-Caulfield
Sen. Robin Wright-Jones, D-St. Louis


Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington
Sen. Ryan McKenna, D-Crystal City
Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City
Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton


A new question is posted on my website which ask:

The current economic situation will bring about severe reductions in our state's budget in order for the legislature to pass the balanced budget that the Missouri Constitution requires.

In your opinion, which of these actions seems the most reasonable to begin with?
  1. Reduce K-12 Education Spending
  2. Reduce Higher Education Spending
  3. Reduce Medicaid/Welfare Expenditures
  4. Reduce tax credits for economic development & job creation
  5. Provide for an earlier release of non-violent prison offenders in order to reduce corrections/prison expenditures

And which of these would you NOT want to see happen?
  1. Reduce K-12 Education Spending
  2. Reduce Higher Education Spending
  3. Reduce Medicaid/Welfare Expenditures
  4. Reduce tax credits for economic development & job creation
  5. Provide for an earlier release of non-violent prison offenders in order to reduce corrections/prison expenditures

If you'd like to respond, please go to my web page at: and click on "Question of the Week" in the upper right hand corner.

St. Charles County Town Hall Meeting Details

Don't forget my Town Hall Meeting tomorrow, Saturday, March 20th at 1 pm at the O'Fallon City Hall Multi-Purpose Room, 100 North Main Street, O'Fallon.  Hope to see you there.

As the 2010 legislative session unfolds, I will continue to keep you, my constituents, apprised of all major developments, and I look forward to continuing to serve your needs and priorities in Jefferson City. As always, if you have any questions about this week's column or any other matter involving state government, please do not hesitate to contact me. You can reach my office by phone at (866) 271-2844.

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