Silver-hair lawmakers address senior issues

Published 7:45 am Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Alabama Silver-Haired Legislature spent three days last week in session at the Alabama State Capitol and selected five resolutions that the legislators felt are of paramount importance for the state’s senior citizens.

The five resolutions were selected from 77 resolutions written by individual members.

“The resolutions that were selected were thought to be in need of immediate attention by the state’s political leadership,” said Rep. Homer Homann of Brundidge, whose resolution was number two in importance as determined by the legislators.

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“The resolution that I submitted urges the Alabama Legislature to increase the monthly personal allowance of nursing home residents,” Homann said. “When a person goes into a nursing home facility without insurance, the facility gets the total amount of that person’s Social Security check. Alabama state law has set $30 as the amount a nursing home resident can get from their check to take care of personal needs. What can you do with $30 these days?”

Homann’s resolution would increase the monthly personal allowance of nursing home residents to $50.

“Forty-six states and the District of Columbia have fees higher than $30 with the highest at $101.10,” Homann said.

“Some states also have a cost of living adjustment included in their amount.”

Of greatest importance to the delegates was a resolution by Rep. John Bitter that called for the establishment of an interagency council for the prevention of elder abuse in the state.

Rep. Dean McMinn’s resolution to expand personal choices programs throughout Alabama to allow the elderly to remain in their homes was number three on the Silver-Haired Legislature’s list.

Number four was submitted by Rep. Winston Griggs. His resolution supported the enactment of legislation providing that physical force on or bodily harm to a senior citizen, ages 65 and over, can be a Class A felony.

Rep. Tom Wright supported legislation to protect seniors who pre-plan and pre-pay their funerals. “Throughout Alabama there are seniors who are in distress,” Homann said. “Many are members of Tom Brokaw’s ‘Greatest Generation.’ They were born into hardship, endured wars, scrimped and saved and have now reached a point in their lives where they felt somewhat comfortable. It behooves us, as those who have assumed the mantle of representatives of the senior population, to make an even greater effort to meet the challenges before us.”

In addition to the five resolutions that were thought to be of greatest significance to senior adults, the Silver-Haired Legislature delegates selected three resolutions they believe to be of general statewide importance.

Those resolutions were in support of allowing the Alabama Department of Public Safety Aviation Unit to receive funds to conduct Project Lifesaver that provides “lifesaver bracelets,” the creation of a mobile medical service to provide primary care in the state’s rural areas and increasing fines and penalties against those who picket and demonstrate at funerals for America’s servicemen and women.

“We thought that all eight resolutions are of sufficient importance to receive the attention of the state lawmakers,” Homann said.