House Committee Debates Disability Services Bill

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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's Special Standing Committee met Monday to discuss the state's disability services.  Representative Zachary Wyatt, a Republican from Green Castle, sponsors House Bill 1077. The bill would promote a study about private options for care of the state's severely disabled, rather than leaving that care to Missouri's habilitation centers. This bill promotes a study of how people with developmental disabilities could live outside of habilitation centers. There are six habilitation centers in Missouri: Bellefontaine (near St. Louis), Higginsville, Marshall, Nevada, St. Louis, and St. Charles.

Supporters said the bill gives people with developmental disabilities more choice.  Supporters said this bill would allow these individuals the choice of staying or leaving their habilitation centers.

But Mary Vitale, president of the Bellefontaine Habilitation Center, testified against the bill.

"All of the residents that currently live in habilitation centers do not want to move out," said Vitale.  "They can already move out.  They have that choice.  Nobody wants to move out.  We're gettting all the services we need for our family members in habilitation centers."

Missouri's senate filed a "companion bill" which the Senate Committee on Mental Health heard on Jan. 19.