What is The Silver Haired Legislature?
Created by an Act of Congress in 1969, each state was encouraged to create a body of Seniors who would identify issues important to older Kansas adults 60+ and to educate the Kansas Legislature about those issues.
The Kansas Silver Haired Legislature was created by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 1649, which was passed by the 1982 Legislature. It created a unicameral legislature composed of 125 representatives. All are 60+ years old and are elected from their county of residence.
Wyandotte, Johnson, Shawnee and Sedgwick have five additional representatives.
Silver Haired Legislature Provides Opportunities
- To identify priority concerns of Kansans over 60 years of age;
- To develop bills and resolutions designed to address those identified concerns; and
- To present those resolutions to the Kansas Legislature & Governor as recommendations for state policy.
What Are Responsibilities of the Silver Haired Legislature?
- Advocate for the KSHL Legislation with State Legislators.
- Testify at hearings held regarding KSHL Legislation.
- Meet with seniors in their county & district about legislation affecting older adults.
Who May Become a Silver Haired Legislator?
Any Kansan aged 60 or over who is a registered voter may file for candidacy. The term of office is two years and members may file for re-election.
When Are Session Held?
The Kansas Silver Haired Legislature meets each fall for three days in Topeka, Kansas.
How Are Silver Haired Legislators Elected?
- Silver Haired Legislators (SHL) elections are conducted by Area Agencies on Aging every 2 yeras.
- Voters must live in the district in which they are voting and be registered voter and at least 60 years old.
- Candidate registration forms, petitions, and filing instruction are available from the Area Agencies on Aging.
Some reimbursement is made for travel to the annual legislative session. When the budget allows, lodging and some meals for the session are covered.
How Is Silver Haired Legislature Funded?
The Silver Haired Legislature is supported by donations and volunteer help. Contributions are tax deductable and may be made payable to the SHL Treasurer and sent the Treasurer or to an Area Agency on Aging (AAA).
How To Get Involved
To become a candidate, obtain rules & procedures from the AAA or the SHL office. If not a candidate, support your representatives and suggest legislation about issues that concern older Kansans.
Recent Successful Legislation
A Grandparents Rights Bill was prepared by the Kansas Silver Haired Legislature to open the way for judges overseeing custody cases to consider grandparents as potential guardians for their grandchildren if their relationship with the children was a viable alternative to foster care. The grandparents-as-guardians option will benefit children and reduce Kansas expenditures.
The legislation was suggested to the Kansas Legislature; gathered support and sponsorship; was passed by both the Kansas House of Representatives and Kansas Senate and signed into law by Governor Brownback.
In the 2017 legislative session, the SHL was successful in getting $2.1 million restored to the Senior Care Act which helps keep seniors in their own homes and helps keep seniors off of Medicaid. The cost difference to the state is $200 per month for SCA services compared to $3,000 to $4,000 per month in a care facility.