Janice Walker, Great Bend, didn’t realize that picking up a copy of “Older & Bolder” would lead her to a new public service project. But after she read about the Kansas Silver Haired Legislature, which advocates for senior citizens, she decided to learn more.
Created in 1982, the Kansas SHL identifies issues important to older Kansans and educates the Legislature about those issues.
Walker, who retired from her job in the accreditation office at Larned State Hospital in 2011, was appointed at the Barton County legislator after paying the $25 filing fee. She was appointed to a term that runs from March 1, 2015, to March 31, 2017.
Kansas has approximately 2.9 million people. Of those, 18 percent or approximately 450,000 are seniors age 60 or older.
The SHL is divided into 11 Planning Service Areas, with Barton County in PSA 6. Walker attended the spring meeting this year at Dodge City. Three issues were approved for submission to the SHL Board:
• To help fund the SHL, Kansas should include a check-off box on the yearly income tax forms and/or Kansas residents can contribute to the SHL by paying an annual membership fee (suggested $12), similar to AARP.
• Support the KanCare Expansion.
• Ease the restriction on the current KDOT program to allow options for affordable public transportation for seniors who need rides to medical appointment in their community.
Next month the SHL executive board will convene to bring all of the issues together and choose the top four or five. These issues will then be presented to the SHL body at their annual October meeting in Topeka.
In the fall the SHL meets for three days in Topeka to formalize bills and resolutions which are forwarded to the Kansas Legislature for consideration.
Walker said she enjoyed meeting in the House Chambers at the Capitol last October. She testified on the issue of Medical Marijuana, which the SHL has supported in the past.
Three bills were forwarded to the Kansas Legislature:
• Renewed and continued protection of state funding of the Senior Care Act.
• Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance- increase liability limits for both uninsured motorists protection and unfair claim settlements.
• Keep the funding for Medicare, Medicaid, and Children Services Programs as they are currently being administered.