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Silver Haired Legislature sets its priorities for the coming year

Published on -10/16/2013, 10:18 AM

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Since I represent Ellis County as a member of the Kansas Silver Haired Legislature, I thought I would update you on what's going on.

In case you don't know what the SHL is about, this article will explain the purpose of the group. The Silver Haired Legislature is a unicameral legislature (unicameral means consisting of a single chamber or legislative house) composed of 125 delegates. All are older than 60 years and are elected from their county of residence.

The SHL was established 31 years ago by the Kansas Legislature and provides an educational experience in the political process in addition to providing opportunities to identify priority concerns of Kansas seniors. The mission of the Kansas Silver Haired Legislature is to: educate the citizenry about the needs of the elderly and of the legislative process; communicate and serve as liaison for our constituents and legislators; and participate and be involved as an advocate for senior issues.

This year, SHL delegates met Oct. 1 to 3 in Topeka to review and propose bills for consideration during the 2014 State Legislative Session.

The 2013 SHL Committees consist of Ways and Means; Health and Welfare; and Federal and State Affairs. I am on the Federal and State Affairs Committee. The sessions included committee meetings, floor discussions and final voting on the presented issues, etc.

Two House bills proposed for the 2013 state legislative session have been held over for further study.

House Bill 2131 on rural transportation was held over for further information from Josh Powell from the Kansas Department of Transportation. He presented a report Oct. 1 in the educational and informational session. This bill needs to be reworked for 2014 now that we have Powell's input.

House Bill 2283 requires applicants for nursing education/training receive criminal background checks, including finger-printing before being allowed to enroll in any educational/training program.

Senate Bill 3010 (former House Bill 2036) also held over from 2013 would have created an electronic data base for pay-day lenders to help prevent lending practices that would negatively affect seniors. This bill died and will not be resubmitted in 2014.

The following SHL Resolutions or SHL Bills were passed.

* SHL Resolution No. 3003 reauthorizes and preserves the integrity of the Older American Act of 1965. As a side note, Lyndon Johnson was president when this act was adopted.

* SHL Resolution No. 3004 (amended) will urge the Kansas Legislature to legalize the use of medical marijuana. While this is and will continue to be a very controversial issue, it has received a lot of attention from seniors the past three SHL sessions. We are waiting for information from the American Medical Association regarding its use.

* SHL Resolution No. 3005 (amended) supports the use and funding of the Kansas Drug Card Program.

* SHL Resolution No. 3006 (amended) urges the Kansas Legislature to support the National Alzheimer's Plan.

* SHL Bill No. 3007 (amended) is an act concerning the telecommunications carrier of last resort and repealing sections allowing certain service providers to avoid their obligation as the carrier of last resort.

* SHL Bill No. 3008 is an act regarding the joint committee on home and community based services and KanCare oversight.

* SHL Resolution No. 3009 urges the Kansas Legislature to increase funding for home- and community-based programs and the nutrition programs in the state of Kansas.

Other topics discussed include returning to age 65 the exemption of hunting and fishing licenses, support of the Kansas Health Departments Optimizing Health Program and putting a cap on property taxes for Kansas seniors.

The Silver Haired Legislature is about seniors advocating for seniors whether it is on the state or national level. Step up and make a difference by calling or emailing our legislators in Topeka or Washington.

Let me know if you have concerns about senior issues. We can talk amongst ourselves about what's happening with our government but, unless we take action and let our Legislators know what is on our minds, they can't help us. Let your voice be heard today. Let's not be the forgotten/neglected generation.

Alberta Klaus is a contributor to The Hays Daily News Generations advisory group.

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