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HOUSE DOCKET, NO.                 FILED ON: 11/20/2013

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 3777



The Commonwealth of Massachusetts



In the Year Two Thousand Thirteen



An Act permanently establishing a state autism commission.


              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

              Section 1. Chapter 6 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:-

              Section 216 (a) There shall be a permanent commission on autism which shall be independent of any supervision or control by any executive agency. The autism commission shall  consist of 34 members, 2 of whom shall be members of the Senate, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the Minority Leader; 2 members of the House of Representatives, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the Minority Leader; the Secretary of Health and Human Services or a designee; the Commissioner of the Department of Developmental Services or a designee; the Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health or a designee; the Secretary of Education or a designee; The Director of Housing and Community Development or a designee; the Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development or a designee; the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission or a designee; the Commissioner of Early Education and Care or a designee; the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary education or a designee; the Commissioner of Higher Education or a designee; the Secretary of Elder Affairs or a designee; the Commissioner of the Department of  Children and Families or a designee; the Commissioner of the Department of  Public Health or a designee; the Director of the Office of  MassHealth or a designee; 1 person appointed by the Secretary of Education from the Community College system; the Director of the Division of Autism or a designee;  and 14 persons to be appointed by the governor 7 of whom shall be representatives of  Advocates  for Autism of Massachusetts, the Autism Insurance Resource Center, Massachusetts Advocates for Children, the Arc of Massachusetts, Autism Speaks, the Lurie Center and the Asperger Association of New England s. Members shall be persons with demonstrated interest, experience and expertise in autism. Citizen membership shall first be offered to those who served from 2010-2013 as members of the Autism Commission which expired upon release of the March 2013 report, subject to their approval. All legislators and agency members shall serve as non-voting members of the commission. Citizen members shall be special state employees subject to sections 18 to 25, inclusive, of chapter 30A.

              (b) The commission shall be responsible for monitoring the implementation of the recommendations in the March 2013 report issued by the Governor's Special Commission Relative to Autism (the "Autism Commission"). The commission shall monitor the implementation of the autism commission's recommendations and update recommendations to reflect current research and the commission's discussions when applicable. The commission shall meet at least quarterly, but may meet more often as the commission deems necessary.

              (c) The commission shall be administered by an Executive Director, who shall devote full time to the duties of this office. The Executive Director shall serve at the pleasure of the governor and report directly to the governor. The Executive Director may, subject to appropriation, appoint such other personnel as is deemed necessary for the efficient management of the office. The Governor shall appoint the Executive Director to a term coterminous with that of the governor, except that the Executive Director shall continue to serve following the end of a Governor’s term until a successor is appointed. The administrator shall have a working knowledge of the autism service delivery system and agencies providing these services, legislative advocacy experience and a personal connection to autism. A nominating Committee comprised of Autism Commission members who served prior to March 2013 shall submit to the Governor the names of three candidates for consideration as Executive Director.    The Governor shall appoint one of these candidates to serve as Executive Director.  (d) The duties of the Executive Director shall include, but not be limited to: legislative and budgetary advocacy of the thirteen recommendations of the March 2013 report by the Governor’s Special Commission Relative to Autism with periodic benchmarks and cost estimates to a coordinated, system-wide response supporting people of all ages on the Autism Spectrum; coordination of Commission meetings; coordination with relevant state agencies;  completion of an annual report to be filed with the Governor, the House Speaker and Senate President, the Senate and House Minority leaders, the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means, and the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and People with Disabilities, and the Joint Committees on Education and Higher Education. The Annual Report shall outline the progress made on the thirteen recommendations of the March 2013 Autism Commission report and a reporting on unmet needs and trends in autism services, supports and treatments for the Autism population.

              (e) The commission shall adopt internal procedures appropriate for the effective performance of its duties.

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