For Immediate Release:
October 25, 2005 .
Sen. Coates Addresses Silver Haired Legislature
The Oklahoma Silver Haired Legislature (OSHL) convened
at the State Capitol on Tuesday. During their two-day session, the organization
will pass legislation that they ultimately hope to win approval for
in the State Legislature. One of their first orders of business was
a presentation by Sen. Harry
Coates. Coates said he was honored to be asked to address the organization.
“The Silver Haired Legislature has brought some important issues
before the State Legislature and worked tirelessly to help get them
passed. They have championed issues like the Living Will, the Spousal
Impoverishment Act, and many more important bills to improve the quality
of life for older Oklahomans,” Coates said.
Sen. Coates, R-Seminole, was introduced to OSHL by Chandler resident
Chaarles Sweet, secretary for the OSHL alumni. He told the members that
Sen. Coates had been a strong advocate for Oklahoma seniors.
Coates said he was shocked by some of the statistics on older Americans.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, half of all women age 75 and older
live alone. In 2004, about 416,000 grandparents 65 or older had the
primary responsibility for their grandchildren. Coates told the members
that the Census Bureau also reported that for one-third of Americans
over 65, Social Security benefits constitute 90 percent of their income.
“I think one of the reasons I am so aware of the concerns of older
Oklahomans is because of my maternal grandfather. My family was worried
about him being alone at night. Since I was the oldest boy, I’d
go over and spend the night at his house to make sure he was okay. I
did that until I graduated from high school. It was a big responsibility,
but also a wonderful opportunity to spend time with my grandfather,”
“I told the members of OSHL that my grandfather had three big
concerns. His independence was very important to him. So was the loss
of income, something that happens to many people when they retire. He
was also terribly concerned about his ability to pay for healthcare.
That was 40 years ago, yet those issues are just as important to seniors
today as they were then,” Coates said.
Sen. Coates shared some of the key measures passed during the 2005 legislative
session, including greater access to lower cost prescription drugs,
tax relief, as well as criminal background checks for non-licensed nursing
home employees and a grandparents’ rights bill.
“I’m proud of what was accomplished this past session and
I’m looking forward to working with OSHL in 2006 to pass more
legislation on behalf of older Oklahomans,” Coates said. “To
me, it comes down to what kind of future we want for our state. If we
want it to be the best it can be, then we must address the needs of