Kansas Silver Haired Legislature
Harvey County State Senator Carolyn McGinn, and Topeka Senator Vicki Schmidt, were honored as Legislators of the Year by the Kansas Silver Haired Legislature, at their annual legislative session this year. They were chosen for their strong support of senior issues, including approval of $5 million dollars for financial support for grandparents who become foster parents for their grandchildren. (The appropriation also includes support for other family members, such as aunts and uncles who are awarded placement of children to keep them out of the foster care system.)
The KSHL also passed nine resolutions on senior issues which will be passed on to the Kansas Legislature in January. They include a resolution urging the Legislature and Governor to fully fund all obligations to the state employee retirement program, known as KPERS and to stop delaying KPERS employer contribution payments. The delegates also passed a resolution urging the state to fund a cost-of-living adjustment for KPERS retirees.
The KSHL is also continuing their support for the expansion of Medicaid in Kansas; support for community based transportation for senior citizens; and for full funding for the Senior Care Act which allows older Kansans to remain in their own homes instead of having to move into nursing facilities at a much higher cost to the state. Another resolution urges the state to continue to protect grandparent rights, especially when considering the temporary placement, legal guardianship and adoption of grandchildren who are in need of care.
Two revenue issues were among the resolutions passed at the KSHL legislative session. The body is urging the state to support legislation to authorize statewide sports wagering and to direct the revenue gained to senior citizen social service programs, especially the Kansas Senior Care Act. The body also urges the state to exempt food purchases from sales tax, and to replace that revenue with revenue from internet sales taxes.
Since many Kansas senior citizens suffer from chronic pain conditions, including multiple sclerosis, Parkinsons’s disease, fibromyalgia, and endometriosis; nausea resulting from cancer treatments and other conditions; and post-traumatic stress disorder, especially in military veterans the KSHL urges the legislature to legalize expanded medical uses of cannabis. This resolution also acknowledges the fact that thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of cannabis under various circumstances and that many Kansas parents have moved to other states where cannabis treatments are legal and available.
The overwhelmingly positive votes for all of this year’s resolutions are evidence of the statewide support of these issues, said Jay Rowh, SHL president from Mitchell County (Beloit). The Executive Board, in July, debated and discussed the 26 issues brought to them by the regional (PSA’s) chairs, then paired the issues down to the nine resolutions which received final passage at the legislative session October 4th. These will now be presented to the Kansas Legislature in January, 2019, for their consideration.