Legislation that would require the Department of Mental Health to close Missouri’s institutions in the next five years draws supporters — and shoes — at the Capitol.

Sen. Scott Rupp of St. Charles has a son with autism. He says while some 5,000 of Missourians are on the disability waitlist for services, the state is spending money on instutions that are falling behind.

Advocates placed piles of shoes in the Capitol Rotunda to symbolize each disabled Missourian who was waiting for services.

Proponents say at least ten other states have closed state-operated institutions to shift to less expensive community-based support alternatives. They include Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, Senate President pro tem Rob Mayer, Speaker of the House Steve Tilley, Sen. Scott Rupp, Rep. Mike Talboy, and Sen. Eric Schmitt.

Schmitt also has a child with developmental disablitities.

“It is part of our life every single day, so I understand the great challenge these families face every day, every week, every moment of their lives.,” he sayd. “It’s not a policy position for me, it’s not a political position for me, it’s who I am.”

The Association for People with Intellectual and Mental Disabilities (ARC) is advocating the bill and urging legislators to vote to pass it.

AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports [Mp3, 1:10 min.]