Q: I've seen something called the "Silver Haired Legislature" mentioned in the paper recently, but I don't know what it is. Is this a political party of sorts?
A:Kansas is one of 24 states that have a Silver Haired Legislature (SHL). It was established by the Kansas Legislature in 1982. The SHL is a one-house legislature composed of 125 representatives. All members are older than 60 and are elected from their county of residence. Wyandotte, Johnson, Shawnee and Sedgwick counties have five additional delegates. The legislature provides an educational experience in the political process and offers an opportunity to identify priority concerns of Kansas senior citizens.
Silver Haired elections are conducted by the Area Agencies on Aging across the state every two years. Candidate registration forms, petitions and filing instructions are available from every Area Agency on Aging.
The 18th annual session of the Kansas Silver Haired Legislature convened on Oct. 11, 2000, at the Kansas Statehouse. The 2000 Kansas Silver Haired Legislature introduced and heard testimony on eight bills and resolutions during their session. The bills cover a wide variety of topics, from mental health parity in insurance coverage to a cost of living adjustment for KPERS retired beneficiaries. Seven of those bills were passed by the body:
SHL Bill No. 1702 Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) Post-retirement Shared Earnings Benefit Adjustment Bill to provide for appropriate post-retirement benefit increases for members of the retirement systems under the Kansas public employees retirement system.
SHL Bill No. 1703 Dedication of Tobacco Litigation Settlement Proceeds for Disabled Persons Bill requiring funding for disabled persons be at least 10 percent of the amount of money transferred from the Kansas Endowment for Youth Fund (tobacco settlement proceeds) to the Children's Initiatives Fund for each fiscal year.
SHL Resolution No. 1704 Adult Care Homes Criminal History Background Checks Resolution urging the Legislature to expand the prohibitions on the employment in an adult care home or a home health agency of persons convicted of specific crimes or attempting to commit such crimes, and to expand the procedures that are followed in obtaining criminal history information.
SHL Resolution No. 1705 Funding for Community Mental Health Centers and Health Insurance Parity for Persons with Mental Illness Resolution urging the Legislature to appropriate increased funding for the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services for Community Mental Health Centers to treat persons who were formerly state hospital patients, and to mandate mental health insurance parity in health insurance coverage.
SHL Bill No. 1706 Funding for Home and Community-Based Services for the Frail Elderly (HCBS-FE) and Other In-Home Services on Caseload Basis Require Department on Aging to submit budget estimates to provide adequate funding for all Home and Community-Based Services. Frail Elderly and other in-home services be funded adequately (including a 20 percent increase for FY 2002 over funding for FY 2001) and to be determined such budget estimates on a caseload basis.
SHL Bill No. 1707 Volunteer Ombudsman Recruiting and Training Bill to require long-term care ombudsman to adopt and implement policies to recruit and train a sufficient number of volunteer ombudsmen and friendly advocates and make them available in all areas of the state.
SHL Resolution No. 1708 Promoting, Developing and Financing Programs to Provide Universal Housing for Aging Kansans Resolution commending and urging expansion of programs of the Department of Commerce and Housing to provide universal housing for aging Kansans in all areas of the state.
If you have a question or comment for "Sense for Seniors," write to Betty Gibb, Kansas Senior Press Service, 11875 S. Sunset, Suite 200, Olathe 66061.