The Executive Board of the Silver Haired Legislature held their annual mid-summer issues meeting on Wednesday, July 31st, in Salina. The Executive Board is composed of the SHL chairperson from each of the eleven PSA districts across the state of Kansas, plus the officers of the overall membership of the organization. These include the Speaker, Speaker Pro Tem, and the Floor Leader. Jay Rowh, Mitchell County SHL representative who is the out-going president of the Executive Board, chaired the meeting.
The meeting began with the bi-annual election of the officers of the Executive Board. Newly elected officers were Bill Otto, PSA 7 (Coffey County – Leroy), who will take over the reins from Rowh as the new President, and Ross Boelling, PSA 8 (Dickinson County – rural Junction City), who replaces Thomas Gordon, PSA 1 (Wyandotte County – Kansas City), as the new Vice-President of the Executive Board. These two officers will serve in their new capacity for a two-year term. Rowh will continue on the Executive Board as the Immediate Past President, and Gordon will also serve as the current chair of PSA 1 (Wyandotte County). Donna Lehane, PSA 2 (Sedgwick County – Wichita) was then appointed by new President Bill Otto to serve as the Secretary of the SHL.
In the spring and early summer, the SHL members within each of the eleven PSA districts meet to decide what issues are important to Senior Citizens in their district. These issues are then brought to the state issues meeting, where they are discussed, debated, and whittled down to a select few. The resulting finalists will subsequently be presented to the entire SHL membership for their consideration at the annual conference in Topeka on October 1-3.
A total of 26 local issues were initially brought to the Executive Board. From this list, a total of seven issues were selected to be presented to the full membership in October. These issues will be forwarded in the form of resolutions, as they are carryover bills from the 2019 Kansas Legislative Session. A SHL resolution indicates support from the organization for that legislation should it meet with approval when voted upon by the entire SHL body in the fall. Six of these measures were SHL carryovers from last year: 1) Support for Medicaid Expansion; 2) Continued support for the KDOT Rural Public Transportation program; 3) Support for the State of Kansas to fully fund KPERS as the law stipulates, and to pass a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) for KPERS beneficiaries; 4) Protect Grandparents Rights in Child Custody and Visitation cases, plus providing financial assistance in Guardianship matters; 5) Support for the Removal of Sales Tax on Food; and 6) Support for Legalizing the Sale of Medicinal Cannabis in Kansas.
The one new resolution deals with Support and/or Expansion of the Senior Care Act in Kansas, the act that allows qualifying Seniors to stay in their own home with just a minimum of financial support. This financial aid averages approximately $240 per month, and helps in such tasks as cleaning, washing clothes, meal purchase and/or preparation, and medication assembly for the week. If the Senior does not get this help, they often must move to a nursing home, where typical costs average around $4000 per month. The Senior Care Act is definitely a money-saver for the State of Kansas.
The next step in this process is for the entire SHL membership to discuss and debate these resolutions in committee work at the Annual Session of the full Silver Haired Legislature this coming October in Topeka. Those measures successfully passed out of committee will then face deliberation by the full SHL body, and if subsequently approved, will then be forwarded on to the Kansas Legislature in their 2020 Legislative Session for consideration with SHL support.
The Silver Haired Legislators represent the over 600,000 Kansas Seniors over the age of 60, most of whom vote in local, state and national elections. The SHL is just one of the ways their collective voice can be heard.
For this, and other information on the Silver Haired Legislature, you are invited to view our website: Kansas-shl.org.