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Nixon signs bills, promises fight over autism insurance

Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon signs a bill into law in his State Capitol office.
Marshall Griffin, KWMU
Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon signs a bill into law in his State Capitol office.

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Missouri Governor Jay Nixon says he will battle lawmakers to expand health care coverage for children with autism.

He made that statement at a multiple bill signing ceremony today at the State Capitol.

Two of the bills Nixon signed codify into law existing programs and services for people with autism and require that at least five regional autism centers with corresponding districts be established.

But a bill that would have mandated insurance coverage for autistic kids younger than 18 died in the House during the 2009 session.

Nixon promised a fight if that happens again.

"And I will use all the force and power of my...stunning personality to attempt to get that accomplished," Nixon said, prompting laughter from the audience.

Opponents of the bill said it would have put much of the burden for funding autism insurance on small businesses.

Governor Nixon also signed legislation that removes the cap on state funding for the Missouri Arts Council.

Until now, lawmakers could only provide the council $10 million per fiscal year.

Nixon says the bill he signed today will enable the state to fund the arts during tough economic times.

"Missouri has a long and proud legacy of painters, musicians, authors and artists from all walks of life, from Thomas Hart Benton, to Scott Joplin to Mark Twain," Nixon said.

Nixon added that removing the cap will enable the state to spend money on the arts without diverting money meant for other needs.

Other bills signed into law today include mandating additional tests for genetic diseases for newborns, and requiring schools to enact health and safety policies to protect kids with food-borne allergies.