KANSAS SILVER HAIRED LEGISLATURE MEETS IN ANNUAL SESSION
The Kansas Silver Haired Legislature held their 35th Annual Session in Topeka on October 3 – 5, 2017. Speaker Don Woodard (Shawnee County – Auburn), and President Jay Rowh (Mitchell County – Beloit), presided over the multiple sessions of the three-day conference. At this Annual Session, the delegates debate and vote on the issues presented to them by the Executive Board from their July meeting. These issues, in the form of Bills and Resolutions, are subjected to a two-day process of committee hearings and debate, and then voted on two separate times before being considered as “passed”. Those Bills and Resolutions that do survive this process are then sent to the Kansas State Legislature for consideration during the 2018 Legislative session. It is just one way for the Senior Citizens in Kansas to have their collective voice heard.
Here are the Resolutions passed by the full body of the Kansas Silver Haired Legislature at this year’s Annual Session:
1) Resolution No. 3501 — Urge the legislature and governor to support the expansion of Medicaid (KanCare) in Kansas. Currently, approximately 150,000 (of which around 16,000 are Kansas seniors between the age of 60 – 65 years old) Kansans fall into the “coverage gap” – they make too much money to qualify for the base Kansas KanCare program, yet not enough to be able to afford medical insurance on their own. Kansas has forfeited over $2.1 billion from the Federal Government by not participating in this program. The Kansas Hospital Association, the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, and many other health-related organizations are in full support of this resolution.
2) Resolution No. 3502 — Urge the legislature and the governor to continue to support and fund the KDOT rural public transportation program, so vitally needed by our Kansas Senior Citizens, especially in rural areas of our state.
3) Resolution No. 3503 — Urge the Kansas Legislature and the governor to fully fund all Kansas Public Employees Retirement System obligations (KPERS), including the interest at 8% on the bonds passed two years ago.
4) Resolution No. 3504 – Urge the legislature and the governor to provide a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for each retiree who is entitled to receive a retirement benefit from KPERS. This has not happened since 1998.
5) Bill 3505 – Urge the Kansas Legislature to pass Property Tax Relief for qualifying low income Senior Citizens.
6) Resolution 3506 – Supports the repeal of the 2015 Property Tax Lid law that puts limits on the spending of city and county governments.
7) Bill 3507 – Urges the Kansas Legislature to pass funding assistance for grandparents who become the legal caregivers and guardians of their grandchildren.
8) Bill 3508 – Urges the Kansas Legislature to strengthen the Grandparents’ Rights Law concerning child custody, visitation, and residency matters.
9) Bill 3509 – Urges the Kansas legislature to pass a law concerning motor vehicle liability insurance coverage limits. It also requires insurance companies to continue covering a vehicle that has had the insurance cancelled, until such time as the insurance company contacts the Kansas Insurance Commissioner, and Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles, to inform them of an “uninsured vehicle” on the Kansas roadways.
The Silver Haired Legislature was created by an act of Congress in 1969, with the Kansas Silver Haired Legislature being formed in 1982. The KSHL is charged with identifying issues important to older Kansas adults 60 years of age and older, of which there are nearly 500,000, and to educate the Kansas Legislature about those issues. Each county is entitled to one representative, with the four largest counties having up to five additional representatives. This coming spring, the SHL delegates from the eleven regions across Kansas will begin meeting once again to decide the issues of importance to Kansas seniors, and preparations will be made for the 36th Annual Session next fall in Topeka. Talk to your county’s SHL delegate between now and then so the issues important to you can be considered in this next cycle.