Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: September 25, 2007
Senators Attend Opening Session of Silver
As Oklahoma’s baby boomers enter their retirement
years, more of the state’s citizens will face issues such
as the need for senior services and programs. They’ll also
face a greater risk of financial exploitation and other crimes that
target the elderly. Those issues and others are on the minds of
the state’s Silver Haired Legislature which convened on Tuesday
at the State Capitol.
Charlene Norris of Ochelata serves as a representative in the Silver
Haired Legislature. Just as in the State Legislature, Norris said
their work as members begins by visiting with seniors throughout
their districts to learn about their needs and concerns.
“Then we come to the Capitol and have the opportunity to sit
down and come up with five priority bills that we can present to
our legislators to see if we can get those things passed,”
Members of the Oklahoma State Senate attended the opening session
of the Silver Haired Legislature to welcome the members and to discuss
some of the issues they’d been involved with on behalf of
seniors. Those lawmakers included Sen. Co-Pres. Pro Tempore Glenn
Coffee, Sen. Debbe Leftwich, Sen. John Ford, Sen. Ron Justice and
Sen. Andrew Rice. Other Senators will also meet with delegates during
the two-day session of the Silver Haired Legislature.
Coffee told members of the Silver Haired Legislature that even though
the Senate was equally divided between the two parties, when it
came to issues impacting Oklahoma seniors, the Senate was united
in its desire to help.
“I think all of us realize how important it is to ensure the
laws we pass will assure a better quality of life for our seniors,”
said Coffee, R-Oklahoma City. “This is an issue that impacts
the lives of countless Oklahomans in every community in this state.”
Leftwich discussed one particular piece of legislation she has worked
on for several years—the creation of a single agency to handle
programs for older Oklahomans.
“That was the first bill I carried as a freshman, and I’ll
continue to fight for this as long as it takes,” said Leftwich,
D-Oklahoma City. “Oklahoma seniors have to find their way
through a maze of state agencies and red tape just to get the services
they need—they shouldn’t have to deal with that kind
of frustration. I’m proud to work with the Silver Haired Legislature
on this issue.”
Ford praised the members of the Silver Haired Legislature for the
countless hours they volunteer in order to better the lives of senior
citizens throughout the entire state.
“They’ve raised their families, had long careers, but
instead of just enjoying retirement, they are meeting with other
seniors, working through important proposals at the Capitol and
then are helping educate their state legislators about the issues
and their concerns,” said Ford, R-Bartlesville. “I think
they’re a wonderful group.”
Rice talked to the members about legislation he sponsored last year
to help families with the cost of caring for older relatives. Senate
Bill 725 would create a tax deduction for middle class families
caring for elderly relatives.
“Many of these families are part of the sandwich generation—they’re
still raising their children, but are also caring for their parents
or other elderly relatives,” said Rice, D-Oklahoma City. “This
measure cleared the Senate last year, but was not heard in the House.
I’ll continue to work for its passage during the 2008 session.”
Justice said it was extremely important for lawmakers to address
issues such as financial abuse and other crimes that target Oklahoma
seniors. He was principal author of legislation that made it a felony
to knowingly, through deception or intimidation, obtain or use the
funds, assets or property of individuals 62 years of age or older
or those who are disabled.
“Oklahoma’s seniors have special needs and challenges,
and often we can help find solutions through legislative action,”
said Justice, R-Chickasha. “I’m pleased to speak on
their behalf and really appreciate input from the Silver Haired
Legislature in addressing those needs.”
For more information, contact:
Senate Communication's Office: (405) 521-5774