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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio creates select committee on autism



House Speaker Marco Rubio Friday created a Select Committee on Autism and Developmental Disorders, headed by Rep. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando. The action came two days after former Dolphin quarterback Dan Marino appeared with Gov. Charlie Crist to draw attention to the need to do more to help autistic children.

The dilemma facing Crist and legislators is that they generally oppose adding additional mandates to health care coverage, and autism care and treatment is very expensive. "There's a time for mandates and a time for which there are not mandates. It depends on the circumstances," Crist said last month. "We don't etch things in stone."

In a letter announcing creation of the House select committee Friday, Rubio made it clear he opposes additional mandates on health policies. At Wednesday's rally, Sen. Steve Geller told advocates to focus their lobbying in the House, and that there is strong support for his autism legislation (SB 2654) in the Senate.

Crist on March 7 formed a task force on autism, co-chaired by Marino and Jane Johnson, director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. Other members of the House select committee are Republicans Bill Galvano, Marti Coley, Anitere Flores, Jimmy Patronis, Steve Precourt, Dennis Ross, Will Weatherford and Juan Zapata and Democrats Loranne Ausley, Joe Gibbons, Audrey Gibson and Ari Porth. The panel's first meeting will be April 8 and it will submit recommendations a week later. (Ausley is also a member of Crist's task force).

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:49am]


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