Legislation

Legislation

Below are bills that have been introduced in the federal or state legislatures.   Each of the bills affects people of various ages who have autism.

State Legislation

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Bill Synopsis:
Establishes an autism registry in NJ.
Bill Number:
A-2306
S-2723
Who Is Affected:
The autism community.
Bill Summary:
Citing a need for reporting diagnoses of autism and maintaining a registry of that information to improve current knowledge and understanding of autism, the bill requires that such information be reported to the NJ Department of Health & Senior Services (DHSS).  The information shall contain the name, address, age of the child, and place of birth unless the parents object to being reported in the registry.  In that case, the report shall not contain information that could be used to identify the child.  Appropriates $500,000 to set up the autism registry.
Date Introduced:
A-2306: February 6, 2006
Prime Sponsor:
A-2306: Assembly members McKeon, Roberts, Albano, & Voss
S-2723: Senators Ciesla, Allen Weinberg, Coniglio, Turner
Current Status:
Signed into law on September 12, 2007.  Effective on March 10, 2008.
Bill Synopsis:
Makes changes concerning the NJ Governor’s Council on Autism.
Bill Number:
A-4054
S-698
Who Is Affected:
Projects receiving research grants from the Governor’s Council, and potentially, anyone who may benefit from the outcomes of any research funded by the Council.  
Bill Summary:
The Council will move out of the UMDNJ and be housed in the NJ DHSS and membership will increase from the current seven members up to a new total of 14 members.  
The Governor will appoint seven members:
2 members of the public who are not leaders in autism organizations on Council (1 of whom has autism or is family member of someone with autism).
4 appointed in consultation with the presidents of academic institutions in NJ engaged in autism research.
1 representative of a health care organization with demonstrated clinical expertise in the evaluation & treatment of ASD.
1 appointed by the President of the Senate.
1 appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly.
1 appointed by the DHSS.
4 also appointed by the Governor, who represent autism organizations in NJ, each of whom shall represent no more than one such organization.
The Council will select its own Chair at its first meeting of each calendar year and the Council is required to meet at least four times each year.
Date Introduced:
Assembly: February 26, 2007
Senate: January 10, 2006
Prime Sponsor:
Assembly: Assembly Members Voss, Schaer, Roberts, & McKeon
Senate: Senators Weinberg & Vitale
Current Status:
Signed into law on September 12, 2007.  Effective immediately.
Bill Synopsis:
Requires teachers to receive instruction in awareness and methods of teaching children with autism and other developmental disabilities.
Bill Number:
Assembly: A-4055
Senate: S-2558
Who Is Affected:
Children age 3 through 21 in the education system.
Bill Summary:
Requires the NJ DOE to recommend to the State Board of Education ways to incorporate awareness of and methods of teaching students with autism and other disabilities.  Beginning with the 2008-09 school year, institutions of higher learning must incorporate the DOE recommendations into existing course curriculum.  DOE also must make recommendations to the State Board of Education for ways to incorporate this instruction into in-service and other training programs for teachers and para-professionals.     
Date Introduced:
Assembly: February 26, 2007
Senate: February 26, 2007
Prime Sponsor:
Assembly: Assembly Members Whelan, Huttle, Voss, & Roberts
Senate: Senators Weinberg & Karcher
Current Status:
Signed into law September 12, 2007.  Effective for 2008-09 school year.
Bill Synopsis:
Concerns guidelines for diagnosis and timely referral to Early Intervention Program services for children with autism.
Bill Number:
Assembly: A-4056
Senate: S-2568
Who Is Affected:
Children from birth through age two who are suspected of having autism.
Bill Summary:
Requires DHSS to develop guidelines for health care professionals to use in evaluating infants and toddlers for autism to ensure timely diagnosis and referral for Early Intervention services for those identified as having autism.  Also requires collecting data on screening, diagnosis and intervention programs, and disseminating information on medical care of individuals with autism to health care professionals and the public. Requires input from COSAC, the Autism Center, and others in developing the guidelines.  
Date Introduced:
Assembly: February 26, 2007
Senate: February 26, 2007
Prime Sponsor:
Assembly: Assembly Members Conaway, Panter, Roberts, & Huttle
Senate: Senators Weinberg & Karcher
Current Status:
Signed into law September 12, 2007.  Effective on March 10, 2008.
Bill Synopsis:
Establishes the NJ Adults with Autism Task Force.
Bill Number:
Assembly: A-4057
Senate: S-2559
Who Is Affected:
Adults with autism.
Bill Summary:
Establishes a 13-member New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force.  Five of the members are the Commissioners of the NJ Departments of Human Services, Health & Senior Services, Education, Labor & Workforce Development and the Chairman of the Governor’s Council on Autism. The Governor appoints six members: one on the recommendation of COSAC, one recommended by Autism Speaks, one recommended by ASPEN, one adult with autism, and two public members with a demonstrated expertise in this area.  Additionally, the President of the NJ Senate and the Speaker of the NJ General Assembly each appoint one person to the Task Force.  
The Task Force shall within 12 months develop a comprehensive plan for meeting the various needs of adults with autism, and present its plan to the Governor and the Legislature.  
Date Introduced:
Assembly: February 26, 2007
Senate: February 26, 2007
Prime Sponsor:
Assembly: Assembly Members Roberts, Voss, Schaer, & McKeon
Senate: Senators Weinberg & Karcher  
Current Status:
Signed into law September 12, 2007.  Effective immediately.
Bill Synopsis:
Requires training in autism awareness by emergency responders.
Bill Number:
Assembly: A-4058
Senate: S-2574
Who Is Affected:
Anyone with autism who comes in contact with police and fire officials, as well as EMTs.  
Bill Summary:
Requires the NJ Department of Health & Senior Services to develop an autism awareness training course to be used by all EMTs; training to focus on the risks identified with autism, recognizing autism, and appropriate responses to take; training will become part of training for all current and future firefighters and police officers.  
Date Introduced:
Assembly: February 26, 2007
Senate: February 26, 2007
Prime Sponsor:
Assembly: Assembly Members Scalera, Roberts, Voss, & Whelan
Senate: Senators Weinberg & Coniglio
Current Status:
A-4058 was approved by the full Assembly on 3/15/07
S-2574 was heard by the Senate Health, Human Services, & Senior Citizens Committee which tabled the bill.
Bill Synopsis:
Extends funding for autism research and treatment.
Bill Number:
Assembly: A-4059
Senate: S-2569
Who Is Affected:
Projects awarded research grant from the Governor’s Council, and potentially, anyone who may benefit from the outcomes of any research funded by the Council.  
Bill Summary:
Originally, funding for the Governor’s Council on Autism from traffic violations ($1 per ticket) was designed to end after five years – this bill allows the surcharge to continue, ensuring approximately $4 million in funding annually for the Governor’s Council.  
Date Introduced:
Assembly: February 26, 2007
Senate: February 26, 2007
Prime Sponsor:
Assembly: Assembly Members Roberts, Mayer, Voss, & Whelan
Senate: Senators Weinberg & Coniglio
Current Status:
Signed into law September 12, 2007.  Effective immediately.
Bill Synopsis:
Establishes the Asperger’s Syndrome Pilot Initiative.
Bill Number:
A-2291
S-690
Who Is Affected:
Individuals with Asperger’s who are in need of social skills training.
Bill Summary:
Provides for an Asperger’s Pilot Initiative to provide vocational, educational, and social service training to persons with Asperger’s.  Enables implementation of a $300,000 appropriation for this purpose included in the state budget.  
Date Introduced:
Assembly: February 6, 2006
Senate: January 10, 2006
Prime Sponsor:
Assembly: Voss, Gordon, Munoz
Senate: Weinberg, Karcher
Current Status:
Signed into law September 12, 2007.  Effective on March 10, 2008.
Bill Synopsis:
Provides a supplemental appropriation of $5 million to develop community residences for DDD clients on the Waiting List.
Bill Number:
S-1839
A-3166
Who Is Affected:
DDD clients who are on the DDD Community Services Waiting List.  
Bill Summary:
The bill notes that the current state budget provides funds to move people with disabilities out of Developmental Centers, but that no funds were allocated for those on the Waiting List who are generally living at home with their families and are waiting for residential placement.  The $5 million would enable DDD to develop upward of 13 community residential programs for between 50 and 80 DDD clients.  
Date Introduced:
S-1839: May 11, 2006
A-3166: June 1, 2006
Prime Sponsor:
S-1839: Senator Andrew Ciesla
A-3166: Assemblymen David Wolfe & James Holzapfel
Current Status:
Awaiting hearing by the Senate Health, Human Services, & Senior Citizens Committee.
Awaiting hearing by the Assembly Human Services Committee.
Bill Title:
Urges the NJ Department of Health & Senior Services to study the relationship between ultrasounds and autism.
Bill Number:
ACR-247 (Assembly Concurrent Resolution)
Who Is Affected:
Pregnant women who may take ultrasound tests on their unborn children.
Bill Summary:
Urges DHSS to study the relationship between autism and ultrasounds and to issue protocols for the use of ultrasounds.  
Date Introduced:
March 5, 2007
Prime Sponsor:
Assembly members Joe Pennacchio, Neil Cohen, Valerie Vainerie Huttle, and Upendra Chivukula
Current Status:
Approved by the full Assembly on 3/15/07.
Bill Synopsis:
Requires health insurers to pay for early intervention costs.
Bill Number:
S-2303
A-3837
Who Is Affected:
Children with developmental delays from birth to age three who receive early intervention services.
Bill Summary:
Requires that insurance companies cover the cost of such medically necessary Early Intervention services and other necessary health services as the parent or guardian approves.  Coverage would be limited to $7,500 per year, per covered person and that amount would be excluded from the calculation of any lifetime benefits cap.  
Date Introduced:
S-2303: November 13, 2006
A-3837: January 4, 2007
Prime Sponsor:
S-2303: Senators Ellen Karcher & Loretta Weinberg
A-3837: Assemblymen Upendra Chivukula & Joseph Vas
Current Status:
Awaiting hearing by the Senate Commerce Committee.
Awaiting hearing by the Assembly Financial Institutions & insurance Committee.
Bill Synopsis:
Provides penalties for leaving an individual with a disability unattended in a motor vehicle.
Bill Number:
S-987
A-1530
Who Is Affected:
Any parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the care and well-being of a person with a disability.  
Bill Summary:
Any responsible party who leaves a person with a disability unattended in a motor vehicle can be found guilty of a petty disorderly person’s offense and subject to a fine of up to $500 and/or imprisonment up to 30 days.  If the person with a disability suffers bodily injury as a result of being left alone, the responsible party can be fined up to $15,000 and/or imprisoned for 3 to 5 years.  “Unattended in a motor vehicle” is defined as being more than 10 feet away from the vehicle.    
Date Introduced:
S-987: January 17, 2006
A-1530: January 10, 2006
Prime Sponsor:
S-987: Senators Barbara Buono & Joe Vitale
A-1530: Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver & Assemblyman Louis Manzo
Current Status:
Awaiting hearing by the Senate Health, Human Services, & Senior Citizens Committee.
Awaiting hearing by Assembly Judiciary Committee.
Bill Synopsis:
Requires health benefits coverage for certain therapies and ABA for the treatment of certain autism disorders.
Bill Number:
S-105
A-999
Who Is Affected:
Persons with autism who need Occupational, Physical, or Speech Therapy.
Bill Summary:
Requires that insurance companies cover the costs of physician-prescribed, medically necessary services of OT, PT, Speech Therapy, ABA, and related structured behavioral programs for persons with a primary diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder.     
Date Introduced:
Both bills: January 10, 2006
Prime Sponsor:
S-105: Senators Joseph Coniglio & Stephen Sweeney
A-999: Assemblymen Vincent Prieto & Louis Manzo
Current Status:
These bills were heard by the Pension & Health Benefits Review Commission on June 23, 2006.  The Commission did not enact the bills – their motion and discussion are included below:  
Motion: Recommend not to enact since the bill does not address the overall issue of providing coverage for developmental disorders. These issues should be addressed during the next labor contract negotiations.
Discussion: Autism is classified as a “biologically-based mental illness” under State law, and treatment is currently provided at the same level as other medical conditions. Currently, the SHBP does not cover developmental therapies. If enacted this bill would increase State and participating local employer costs by $15 million in FY 2007.
Bill Synopsis:
Places the burden of proof on the school district in special education due process hearings.
Bill Number:
Assembly: A-4076
Senate: S-2604
Who Is Affected:
Any parent who goes to court to resolve special education conflicts.
Bill Summary:
Regardless of whether the parent or school district initiates a due process hearing regarding identification, evaluation, re-evaluation, classification, placement, provision of a free appropriate public education, or disciplinary action, school districts shall have the responsibility to prove their case in court.  
Date Introduced:
Assembly: March 8, 2007
Senate: March 15, 2007  
Prime Sponsor:
Assembly: Assembly members Cryan, Voss, Wolfe, Vas, & Stanley
Senate: Senators Stephen Sweeney & Joe Doria
Current Status:
A-4076 was approved by the Assembly Education Committee on May 14, 2007
S-2604 referred to the Senate Education Committee
Bill Title:
Act requiring cost-of-living adjustments for service providers.
Bill Number:
Assembly: A-1996
Who Is Affected:
All agencies serving people through contracts with the state.
Bill Summary:
The bill requires that agencies serving people from various state departments must receive an annual cost-of-living increase in their contract amounts that is based on the annualized Consumer Price Index for the Northeast Region as established each year by the US government.  
Date Introduced:
January 10, 2006
Prime Sponsor:
Assembly:  Assemblymen Joseph Cryan, Francis Blee and Joseph Vas
Current Status:
Assembly:  Referred to Assembly Budget Committee.
For the complete text of any state legislation in the current sessionclick here and enter the bill number (listed above) in the “Search Bill” box.

Federal Legislation

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Bill Title:
“Combating Autism Act”
Bill Number:
Senate: S.843
House: H.R. 2421
Who Is Affected:
Individuals and families of people with autism.  
Bull Summary:
Allocates $920 million over five years for the activities below:
Requires the federal government to (1) develop a scientifically justified budget for research on autism spectrum disorders; (2) acting through the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, to provide for centers of excellence regarding research on autism; and (3) acting through the Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Disorders, to provide for Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism.  
Requires the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish: (1) regional centers of excellence in autism and pervasive developmental disabilities epidemiology; and (2) a clearinghouse for the collecting and storage of data generated.
Requires the Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish: (1) a program to provide information and education on autism and its risk factors to health professionals and the general public; and (2) the Autism Coordinating Committee to coordinate autism related activities within the HHS.
Requires the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to award grants or cooperative agreements to develop statewide autism screening, diagnosis, and intervention programs and systems.
Requires the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to provide for centers of excellence regarding environmental health and autism.
Date Introduced:
Senate: April 19, 2005
House: May 18, 2005
Prime Sponsors:
Senate: Rick Santorum (PA) and Christopher Dodd (CT) plus 46 co-sponsors, including NJ Senators Lautenberg and Menendez
House: Mary Bono (CA) plus 141 co-sponsors, including NJ Representatives Rick Andrews, Chris Smith, Bill Pascrell, Steve Rothman, and Don Payne
Current Status:
Signed into law December 19, 2006
Bill Synopsis:
Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism Act of 2007.
Bill Number:
Senate: S.937
House: H.R.1881
Who Is Affected:
Children and adults with autism and their families.
Bill Summary:
Appropriates $350 million over 5 years to provide treatment and services across the lifespan of individuals with autism.  Includes a Treatment, Intervention, and Services (TIS) Task Force; Planning and Demonstration Grants for Services to Adults; National Training Initiatives on Autism; and Expanding Access to Post diagnosis Care.  For a more detailed summary, click here.   
Date Introduced:
Senate: March 20, 2007
House: April 17, 2007
Prime Sponsor:
Senate: Sen. Hillary Clinton
House: Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA-14) and Chris Smith (R-NJ-4)
Current Status:
Senate: Referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions.
House: Referred to the House Committee on Energy & Commerce.
For the complete text of any federal legislationclick here and enter the bill number (listed above) in the “Search Bill Text” box.

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