Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Silver Haired Legislature




 Marion County Silver Haired Legislator

 Barbara Smith


     The Kansas Silver Haired Legislature (SHL) is a unicameral legislature composed of 125 representatives. All are over 60 and are elected from their county residence. The legislature provides an educational experience in the political process and provides an opportunity to identify priority concerns of Kansas senior citizens. The SHL develops bills and resolutions which are presented to the Kansas Legislature and the Governor as recommendations for state policy.


     The purpose of the Silver Haired Legislature is:

  • To Educate-Participation provides experience in the political process
  • To Inform-Actions of the SHL inform the public and the Kansas Legislature on concerns of the elderly
  • To Involve-The SHL provides over 412,000 seniors a way to become involved.


2016 SHL Bills


Three Bills passed by this year's SHL are:

SHL Bill No. 3201-declaring SHL support to maintain or increase state funding for the Senior Care Act, the only state-run program that grants elderly kansas residents the opportunity to receive care services and support in their homes, as administered by the Area Agencies on Aging.


SHL Bill No. 3204-urging the Kansas Legislature to legalize medical marijuana for medicinal purposes, especially for certain senior medical conditions such as in cancer treatments, neuro-muscular conditions, and glaucoma, and in seizure disorders for citizens of all ages.


SHL Bill No. 3206-asking the Kansas Legislature to repeal a law passed two years ago which potentially could result in the state of Kansas taking over Medicare for its citizens.


Pay Day Loans-A carryover bill from 2014 , a proposal for more stringent controls on the predatory payday loan practices which are seemingly aimed at senior citizens, is still in the Kansas Legislature.  This bill gains automatic SHL support in the upcoming 2016 Legislative session.


Four Resolutions passed by SHL:


SHL Resolution No. 3202, urging the Kansas Legislature to adopt the policy for returning the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman program to at least one full-time regional Ombudsman for each of the 11 Area Agencies on Aging in Kansas.


SHL Resolution No 3205, urging Congress to re-authorize the federal older Americans Act, first passed 50 years ago in 1965.  The re-authorization has already passed the Senate, and awaits consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Re-authorization was supposed to take place in 2011, and funding levels have basically stayed the same since 2002. This resolution will be forwarded to the Kansas Congressional delegation, requesting their support for this measure in Congress.


SHL Resolution No. 3207, urging the Kansas Legislature to support the expansion of Medicaid in Kansas.  This would help Kansas Senior citizens between the ages of 60-65 who are just above the federal poverty level yet not able to financially afford medical insurance, and also help hospitals across the state-especially rural Critical Access Hospitals, to improve their bottom line by receiving payment for services they most often "write off" as being noncollectable.


SHL Resolution No. 3208, urging the Kansas Congressional delegation to support the preservation of Social Security and Medicare, two programs of great benefit to Kansas senior citizens.  Currently about 92% of Kansas seniors receive Social Security-this comprises about 55% of the typical older Kansan's family income.  nearly 97% of older Kansans, or roughly 450,000 people, are enrolled in Medicare. The importance of these two federal programs to the health and well-being of Kansas seniors cannot be over emphasized.  This resolution will also be forwarded to the Kansas Congressional delegation, similar to SHL Resolution No. 3205.