Although Texas lawmakers are the force behind developing new and better laws and sometimes repealing old and no longer useful laws, the ideas for them come from many sources.
The silver haired legislators are, collectively, a valuable resource as providers of alerts to senior needs across the state. Silver Haired Legislature members are active in senior centers, adult education, hospital auxiliaries, retired military groups and other retirement organizations — all involving senior groups with evolving needs and wishes.
Those topics for change are developed into a form called “resolutions,” which are one-page directives on one subject urging the Texas Legislature to create legislation to bring change. The legislation can be from the Senate or House. I explained the process in an earlier column.
It is complicated and requires extensive research and support by the person authoring the bill. Silver Haired Legislature members are grateful for that effort and will, in turn, assist a state legislator every way they can, including testifying before committees.
The relationship has been beneficial to all concerned. Of course, senior citizens and the Silver Haired Legislature would like to see more response from the state legislature regarding effective actions for senior needs. Having said that, the following list is a very pleasing result of the joint endeavors, and it is difficult to deny we do work together for the seniors of this state.
During the last 30 years, our efforts include:
• Placing a freeze on city, county and junior college districts’ taxes for elderly and disabled homeowners.
• No eminent domain may be used for private gain.
• Increased personal-needs allowance for nursing home residents to $60.
• Providing a $250,000 cap for noneconomic damages awarded for malpractice lawsuits.
• Creation of the Silver Alert for missing seniors.
• Establishing penalties for theft of a military grave marker.
• Allowing grandparent caregivers to enroll grandchildren in school and provide access to state programs
• Ensuring no fewer than 28 area agencies on aging in Texas.
• Funding to expand ombudsmen for assisted living facilities.
• Disposition of unclaimed cremains of veterans appropriately and with dignity.
• Creating the Joint Legislative Committee on Aging.
• Requiring criminal background check of employees and applicants at special care facilities.
Betty Streckfuss is a part-time resident of Jamaica Beach. She is speaker pro tem with the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature and a retired registered nurse.