Silver Haired Legislature Holds Mid-Summer Issues Meeting


The Executive Board of the Silver Haired Legislature held their mid-summer issues meeting on Wednesday, July 27th, 2022 in Junction City, Kansas. These issues will be presented to the full membership of the Silver Haired Legislature at their Annual Session in October 2022.

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. Randall Hardy, Saline County SHL representative who is the SHL Speaker, and Jay Rowh, Mitchell County SHL representative who is the Speaker Pro Tem and the Floor Leader, chaired the meeting.

In the spring and early summer, the SHL (Silver Haired Legislature) members within each of the PSA (Planning Service Area) local districts meet to decide what issues are important to senior citizens in their district. The issues are the result of direct interaction with the constituents of that PSA. There are 11 PSA’s that cover all 105 counties in the State of Kansas. Those issues are then brought to the Executive Board Issues meeting during their July Board meeting for their consideration, where those issues are discussed, debated, and whittled down to a select few predicated on several factors such as; urgency, service for the majority, and existing legislations. The issues that were shared with that local PSA and did not receive consideration at the Annual Session, remain an active concern for that PSA as well as the entire SHL. All issues matter! The resulting finalists selected during their July planning session will subsequently be presented to the entire SHL membership for their consideration at their Annual Session in Topeka currently slated for October 4-6, 2022 (Tuesday –Thursday). To ensure that the issues are correct and suitable for consideration, those finalists are reviewed and vetted by a third party known as “The Office of Revisor of Statutes”.

A total of 52 local issues in 35 general 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. During the SHL Annual Session those six issues will go through a three-step process to ascertain the approval of the SHL delegates of all the PSA’s. Those issues that receive favorable passage will then be sent to the Kansas Legislature for consideration during the 2023 Legislative Session. Some of these issues will be forwarded as actual bills, while the remainder will be in the form of resolutions.

These are the issues that will be presented to the full membership at this year’s Annual Session: Support for Medicaid Expansion; Continued support for the KDOT Rural Transportation program; Support for the Broadband Expansion as the law stipulates; Support the expansion of Medicinal Cannabis; Support increase funding for the Senior Care Act; and Support for the equalization of sales tax for the Area Agencies on Aging (AAA).

The Silver Haired Legislators represent over 500,000 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. There are other matters that the individual PSA can support local concerns with their perspective AAA.

Here are the issues decided by the SHL Executive Board at their July board meeting in Junction City on July 27, 2022. These issues will be presented to the full membership of the Silver Haired Legislature at their Annual Session this October. At this meeting the issues will be discussed, debated, and voted upon, with the result that those favorably passed by the full body of the SHL will then be sent to the Kansas Legislature for their consideration during the 2023 Legislative Session.

1) Support the expansion of Medicaid in Kansas. Of the estimated 150,000 Kansans who fall into the coverage gap this plan is designed to rectify, approximately 16,000 are between the ages of 60-64 years old – too young to qualify for Medicare, but with income too high for the current Medicaid program. The SHL proposal stresses the Legislature explore the highly occurring incidences of Senior-related illnesses that would be covered by the expansion of Medicaid. Current guidelines indicate that Federal funds would pay for 90.0% of services provided to the Medicaid expansion population. In addition, Medicaid expansion would significantly reduce the burden of uncompensated care for hospitals and other medical facilities across the state.

2) Continue to support the KDOT Public Transportation program in Kansas. Currently in the United States, more than 20% of the population 65 and older does not drive. This puts the burden on family, friends, and other caregivers to provide the transportation needs of the senior non-driver, with over 1.4 billion rides per year arranged for these individuals. Public transportation provides an important safety net for senior citizen’s to have access to medical services, shopping for food and other needed supplies, and continuing their social activities that are so important for a positive quality of life.

3) Support Broadband Expansion and training in Kansas. Wireless broadband is becoming essential for many tasks and vital services Kansas Seniors need in everyday life, including the need for telemedicine connections to regional medical facilities. Other services include grocery shopping, access to government resources, and email connections to friends and family. Included in the SHL proposal is the importance for education and training on using the internet, including the Zoom feature for more personal contact.

4) Support the expansion of Medicinal Cannabis for use in Kansas. The stance of the SHL is for use of cannabis products containing 0% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Currently 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of cannabis under various circumstances, including all four states that border Kansas.

5) Support increased funding for the Senior Care Act in Kansas, with an emphasis on home and community based services in order to help older Kansans avoid premature nursing home stays. The Senior Care Act program is often referred to as a “smart dollar” common sense program, as the difference in cost between the expenditure of Senior Care Act funds for an individual as compared to the cost of a nursing facility is more than $5,000 each month per client. With the Kansas population seeing an increase in an over-65 aged percentage due to the arrival of the “baby boomers” to the mix, it is obvious the need for Senior Care Act funding will continue rise.

6) Support the Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) request to equalize the sales tax each AAA pays for items needed to provide services to their clients. Currently, eight of the eleven AAA’s are not exempt from state sales tax on products they must purchase, while the other three AAA’s are administered by county governments and are therefore exempt. Because of this disparity, thousands of dollars that could be used for additional services for Senior clients must instead be paid by the AAA to the state in the form of sales taxes. Since all AAA’s are designated as 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, the SHL supports the request to equalize all eleven AAA’s in Kansas. 


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