SHL HOLDS MID-SUMMER ISSUES MEETING
The Executive Board of the Silver Haired Legislature held their mid-summer issues meeting on Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 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 President, Vice-President, Speaker, Speaker Pro Tem, and the Floor Leader. Jay Rowh, Mitchell County SHL representative who is the president of the Executive Board, chaired the meeting.
In the spring and early summer, the SHL members within each of the 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 4-6, 2016.
A total of 37 local issues were initially brought to the Executive Board. From this list, a total of six issues were selected to be presented to the full membership in October. Each topic is placed in one of three committees for consideration, where they will be discussed and debated by the SHL delegates on that committee. The six bills include:
Full funding for KPERS, including a cost of living increase, something that hasn’t happened in nearly 20 years. This includes requesting the State Legislature and Executive Branch of the state government to stop using KPERS funds to balance the State General Fund.
The State of Kansas to re-institute Fair Tax Policy for ALL Kansans, including the repeal of the 2012 law which has resulted in nearly 330,000 Kansans not paying income tax into the State General Fund.
Continued support and funding for Public Transportation, especially helpful to Kansas Senior Citizens who no longer drive to such activities as doctor appointments, shopping, etc..
Restore the 30% devastating cut to the Senior Care Act, the law which helps qualifying Kansas Seniors stay in their own homes with just a minimum of assistance. The original law, passed in 1989 during the term of then Kansas Governor Mike Hayden, passed the Kansas House by a 120-0 count, and then the Kansas Senate by a 37-0 margin, a true bi-partisan effort which demonstrated the importance of such measures to legislators at that time. Senior Care Act funds average approximately $200. - $240. per month to those who qualify financially, much lower than the $4,000.00 or more each month needed to keep that same individual in a nursing home.
Full support for Medicaid Expansion in Kansas. The SHL supports this measure for two reasons: first, our hospitals, especially rural hospitals, desperately need this funding to help them meet the health care needs of the financially struggling citizens in their area; and second, approximately 60,000 Kansans are currently in the “coverage gap”, making too much money to qualify for the state’s KanCare program, yet don’t make enough to afford the premiums for health insurance. This often results in their using the hospital emergency room for their health care, which only causes more problems for our hospitals.
Raising the base uninsured motorist minimum insurance amount to $100,000.00, which insurance agents say would result in the yearly premium being raised approximately $8.00. Prior to last year, the minimum amount had been $25,000.00, an amount which hadn’t been increased since 1981. That minimum amount was raised to $50,000.00 during the 2016 Legislative session, but the SHL feels that is still inadequate in light of the value of automobiles and medical needs in today’s age.
The next step in this process is for those measures passed favorably out of committee to then be discussed and debated by the entire SHL body, and ultimately voted on by that group. If subsequently approved, it will then be forwarded on to the Kansas Legislature for consideration during the 2017 Legislative Session, beginning in January.
The Silver Haired Legislators represent the more than 400,000 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.
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