Senior Legislators wrap up another
The dust has settled on another session of the Alabama Silver-Haired Legislature, and a good bit was accomplished during its three-day session in Montgomery that ended Oct. 23.
In the absence of House Speaker Melvin Cooper of Prattville, who is convalescing, Speaker Pro-tem Winston Griggs of Headland, presided over a vigorous three-day session.
Ten of the 60 resolutions submitted for consideration by the legislators were selected for submission to the governor for his action; five of direct concern to seniors and five, while related to senior issues, were of a more general, statewide application.
Topmost on the resolutions of specific concern to seniors was a resolution calling for an increase in funding for senior nutrition programs.
Secondmost important in the minds of the delegates was a resolution urging the Legislature to designate a tax-free day on food items purchased by or for seniors.
Third in importance was one calling for legislation to authorize a property tax freeze on ad valorem taxes assessed on real property used as a residence. The seniors also felt that the Legislature should find a way to provide funding for respite assistance for family members caring for persons with dementia; and the fifth resolution called for an increase in funding for all Department of Senior Services, and Agencies on Aging to compensate for inflation.
Of a more general, statewide concern were resolutions dealing with allowing the State to participate in expansion of the affordable Care Act (Obamacare); legalizing a state lottery; making the Yellow dot program available in all counties in the state; the collection of sales tax on Internet purchases, and a final resolution dealing with filling vacancies on the Teacher Retirement System Board of Control.
The opening day of the session got off to a good start when Gov. Robert Bentley addressed the seniors and told them that his major goal as Governor was to bring to Alabamians a “modern government that worked; not one that was run by a bureaucracy.” He went on to say that he will continue to provide better government for the people of Alabama.
He described State Government as being broke when he took office; “it was set up for failure; but we haven’t failed,” he said.
Following the Governor's remarks the legislators adjourned to their respective committees to study the 70 resolutions that had been submitted by their colleagues, On Tuesday the evaluation and selection process had ended, the Rules Committee had met and made the final cut.
More Than 60
During the three-day session, held in the House Chamber in the Alabama State-House three-score resolutions were introduced dealing with a wide range of senior issues, including greater emphasis on increasing geriatrics-trained professionals, increases in various allowances afforded senors, placing tighter controls on lending programs targeted at elders and ensuring that the provisions of the recently enacted elder abuse laws are carried out. There were a number of resolutions introduced regarding protections afforded seniors, expansion of various senior-related health care programs, and the allowance of various tax credits.
Over the past five years ASHL members have been extremely active in legislation pertaining to Elder Abuse, the revival of the Alabama Ethics Commission, voter identification, creation of the Silver Alert System, and the provision of affordable prescription drugs for seniors, to name but a few.
Although the annual session has ended, the Silver-Haired legislators will be busy working with individual seniors in their districts and with the Legislature with regard to proposals to be introduced in the next regular legislative session that have either a direct or a tangible impact on seniors.
During each General Session of the Legislature, ASHL members work actively with their counterparts in the regular Legislature in an advisory capacity, never in any way that could be considered lobbying.
The ASHL was established August 8, 1991, by Joint Resolution SJR 101, which was signed into law as PL91-727. Its first elections were held in 1993, and its first session occurred in the same year.