Senior legislators pick legislative priorities

Mary Ella Anderson

California Senior Legislature

After three days of discussion and debate in the State Capitol Building in Sacramento, the 120 members of the California Senior Legislature concluded their 30th Annual Legislative Session by selecting ten State and four Federal legislative proposals that the members hope to see enacted into laws benefiting older Californians.

The most popular proposal among the more than 70 submitted is AP-34 by Senior Assembly Member Shirley Krohn, of Walnut Creek. This proposal removes the sunset date from the elder abuse prevention provisions of the Financial Elder Abuse Reporting Act of 2005.

AP-32, another proposal by Krohn, came in 7th on the top ten. This bill establishes an Independent Long Term Care Ombudsman Office within a private nonprofit corporation.

Coming in second, AP-11, by Senior Assembly Member Richard Shontz of West Hills, imposes a fine of $5,000 for anyone committing identity theft against a senior citizen, with an extra $3,000 added for subsequent offenses.

The third place proposal, AP-4, by Senior Assembly Member George Tucker, San Leandro, increases the fine for elder abuse by 10%, with the additional funds being directed at local entities for combating elder abuse.

AP-25, by Senior Assembly Member Austin Lucero, San Jose, requires hearing aids be made available for over-the-counter sales.

SP-16 by Senior Senator Connie Eaton, Shingle Springs, increases the homeowner's property tax exemption from $7,000 to $27,000 for seniors. In her presentation on behalf of her proposal, Senior Senator Eaton noted that the exemption hasn't been raised since 1968.

AP-13, by Senior Assembly Member Lauren Rolfe, Suisun, raises the income tax deduction for mileage for volunteers in programs like Meals on Wheels.

AP-7, by Senior Assembly Member Dorothy Sorenson, requires medication containers to include the condition or purpose for which the medication was prescribed.

AP-21, by Senior Assembly Member Charles Molnar, Santa Cruz, rescinds the indefinite suspension of the senior citizens property tax deferral program that allows seniors in danger of losing their home to postpone ad valorem property taxes.

AP-43, by Senior Assembly Member Eleanor Bloch, mobilizes paratransit, paramedics and others to move disabled and seniors to safe places in the event of a natural disaster.

Four proposals aimed at the California Congressional contingent were also selected. AFP-2, by Senior Assembly Member Bernard Weintraub, Los Angeles, expands Medicare coverage to include dental care, dental plates, hearing aids, eyeglasses and contact lenses. SFP-1, by Senior Senator Bruce Steir, San Francisco, requires that preference be given to Senior Veterans in public housing. SFP-5, by Senior Senator Lawrence Hartmann, requires tire manufacturers to clearly label tires with month and year of manufacture and include that information on the sales receipt. SFP-6, by Senior Senator Connie Eaton, requires the enactment of legislation addressing the solvency of the Social Security and Medicare program trust funds so that program costs are sustainable.

Following the selection of the state and federal proposals, members of the Senior Assembly and Senior Senate will now begin lobbying their representatives in the regular Assembly and Senate and in Congress to find sponsors for the proposed legislative proposals.

This most recent session, which took place in the State Capitol Building in Sacramento, was the 30th Anniversary Session of the California Senior Legislature. The enabling legislation to create the CSL was introduced in 1979 by the late State Assembly Member Henry Mello to create a non-partisan, volunteer grassroots body of seniors 60 and older to be elected by their peers. Then Governor Jerry Brown signed the enabling legislation, stating that, "The California Senior Legislature offers our older citizens a special opportunity to assist me and the Legislature in developing priorities."

Over the years, the CSL has had good success getting legislation passed to benefit aging Californians, addressing issues such as elder physical and financial abuse, protective services, training for caregivers and long-term care options.

Senior Assembly Members and Senior Senators are elected to represent 33 Public Service Areas (PSAs) in the state. This area, PSA 1, encompasses Humboldt and Del Norte counties and is represented by Senior Senator Jack Alderson, Fortuna, and Senior Assembly Member Mary Ella Anderson, Redway.

More information about the California Senior Legislature is available at www.4csl.org.

1. REDWOOD TIMES PHOTO BY MARY ANDERSON

Senior Assembly Member Chuck Molnar and Senior Assembly Member Jack Alderson are discussing their legislative proposals while waiting for a chair and coffee in the Lt. Governor's office on Tuesday morning.

2. REDWOOD TIMES PHOTO BY MARY ANDERSON

Assembly members interact with each other and lobby for each other's vote prior to settling down to business in the Assembly Chambers. The desks at which we sat are very old but each is equipped with a laptop and a microphone. When the real Assembly votes, it's all electronically, but we voted with a show of hands.

3. PHOTO BY VINCE AGOR

We were seated alphabetically in the Assembly Chambers, which meant that my cohort Senior Assembly Member Vince Agor and I got to sit in the first two seats. Vince took this picture for me. He has been a member of the CSL for eight years and was very helpful to me when it came to protocols and procedures.

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