Saturday, January 14, 2006

Hearing a Smashing Success!

The public hearing on January 12 before a subcommittee of the S.C. Senate Banking and Insurance Committee was an overwhelming success. More than 100 supporters of the bill (probably 150 -- did anyone count?) showed up -- families, therapists, doctors, friends, and other interested parties. The room was so full that the Chair of the subcommittee asked attendees to occupy the empty Senator chairs in the front of the room. Even after we filled the empty Senator chairs, there were dozens of people spilled out into the hallway! So, by all accounts, we showed them that we care about this issue and we'll show up to make our voices heard.

Senator Thomas, the Chair, started around 9:30 and took two hours of testimony, making himself late for the Senate session which started at 11:00. He did not want to cut us off, although he ultimately had to stop with many parents still on the list of speakers. The line-up of speakers was:

Professor Lorri Unumb, Parent (and law professor)
Dr. Jane Charles, MUSC Developmental Pediatrician
Ann Eldridge, Director of the South Carolina Early Autism Project
Dr. Gina Green, BCBA, Author of Cost-Benefit Analysis, Member of BACB Board
Dr. Scott Edwards, Parent (and anethesiologist)
Phil Blevins, Executive Director of Carolina Autism Supported Living Services
Lottie Koster, BCBA with CASLS
Lisa Lane and Susan Sachs, Hope Academy
Dr. Shelly Holstrum, USC Developmental Pediatrician
Walt Jenner, CDC Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Project
Lisa Rollins, Parent (and one of the organizers of this effort)
Lois Park Mole, DDSN
Larry Marchant, Lobbyist for insurance industry and chamber of commerce
Marcella Ridley, Parent (and one of the organizers of this effort)

Unfortunately, Marcella did not have time to say anything other than "please send this bill to committee," which is exactly what Senator Thomas and the subcommittee did!

So we accomplished our first goal! We passed the subcommittee (without amendment) and now need to pass the full Banking and Insurance Committee of the Senate.

We don't yet know when the full committee will consider the bill, but it could be as early as January 25. Thus, we need to contact all of the senators on that committee to let them hear our voices!

Thanks to everyone who made work and babysitting arrangements so that you could attend the public hearing. We really made an impression on the legislature of South Carolina.


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