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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bryce's Law in Missouri

After eight years, a Missouri state legislator has secured passage of his autism legislation.  Missourinet reports:
Representative Dwight Scharnhorst (R-St. Louis) named Bryce’s Law for his grandson, who died in 2007 of complications related to autism and epilepsy. It would create a grant program that parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, Angelman syndrome or cerebral palsy could apply for to help cover the cost of specialized educations that meet their unique needs.
“It’s somewhat of a mandate to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to seek and secure federal and state, and I will be seeking on my own private foundation money, to form a pool of money for parents who decide they want to move these children out of a public school and put them in the institutions that could probably best suit improving their quality of life as well as their family.”
The bill had met resistance in earlier versions because it would have created a tax credit program for those parents, which opponents had likened to school vouchers. Scharnhorst says converting it to a grant program removed any impact it would have on state funding for public schools. He says prior to this year, the proposal had not received a positive vote in a legislative chamber.
Two years ago, Scharnhorst spoke about Bryce and an earlier version of his bill: