Texas Silver-Haired Legislature Advocacy

TSHL is nonpartisan, not-for-profit and is officially recognized and supported by the Texas Legislature.

We deal with older Texans and aging – protections from fraud and other abuse of seniors; assurance of competent, vigilant and respectful health and nursing care; required actions to mitigate isolation and nutritional deficiencies often associated with aging; and protection and preservation of other issues unique to our older population.

 

The Advocacy Process

Advocacy is normally thought of as the act of supporting a population segment, specific cause or ultimately a proposal to solve a problem. Some advocacies address public policy and/or political initiatives. Some advocates perform their duties as volunteers and others have chosen paid careers in advocacy.

TSHL is nonpartisan, not-for-profit and is officially recognized and supported by the Texas Legislature through allowing its use of the House of Representatives Chamber. TSHL members are unpaid and also cover most of their expenses personally. The primary purpose of the TSHL is to provide and “…develop a forum for older Texans to discuss senior citizen issues, debate those issues and establish legislative priorities for the Texas Legislature to consider.” Clearly, TSHL serves as an advocating body for older citizens of Texas. That segment includes those 60 and over.

While the TSHL focus is on one segment of the population, it does not specialize in one issue. The TSHL takes a 360° approach to improve state government effectiveness in laws that deal with older Texans and aging – protections from fraud and other abuse of seniors; assurance of competent, vigilant and respectful health and nursing care; required actions to mitigate isolation and nutritional deficiencies often associated with aging; and protection and preservation of other issues unique to our older population. The TSHL was created in 1985. Recent years show our senior population growing almost twice as fast as the general population. With this rapid rate of growth, the TSHL – always an important advocate for our seniors – is “Now, More Important than Ever.”

Our advocacy process is quite straightforward and comprehensive. First, our members through their own experience, expertise or interest along with constituent input identify areas that are both appropriate and necessary for state involvement. Our members then research these issues by reading up on them, consulting with experts in the field, and by other exploratory and collaborative efforts. Members will then write a “Resolution” – a document identifying and describing the issue with a recommendation for appropriate legislation. These resolutions go through a Resolution Review and the appropriate subject matter Committee vote, prior to being submitted to the whole TSHL body for approval. All final approved Resolutions are then published in our Legislative Report that goes to both each member of the Texas Senate and House.

Our resolution authors and committee chairs then lead teams to contact our legislators prior to, and during the State Legislative session. Our members often provide either in-person or written testimony to keep our legislative recommendations visible as bills are drafted and ultimately voted on by the Texas Legislature.

Scott Christensen
2019-2021 Legislative Action Committee Chair

Recent Legislative Successes

  • Establish the Legislative Committee on Aging.
  • Freeze city, county, and junior college districts taxes for homesteads of elderly and disabled.
  • Establish Silver Alert for missing seniors.
  • Include senior and disabled homeowners in property tax reduction for public school taxes.
  • Increase personal needs allowance for nursing home residents from $45 to $60 per month.
  • Prosecution of theft of a military grave marker.
  • Limit property taxes for veterans with 100% service-related disability.
  • No eminent domain for benefit of private owner.
  • Constitutional amendment determining homestead market value for ad valorem tax purposes.
  • Provide a cap of $250,000 for non-economic damages awarded by juries for malpractice lawsuits.
  • Allow grandparent caregivers to enroll grandchild in school & provide access to state programs.
  • Criminal history checks of employees and applicants at special care facilities.
  • Restore utility Safety Benefit Fund for low-income discount program.
  • Appropriations to expand ombudsman program for assisted living facilities.
  • Alternatives to Guardianship
  • Medical use of low-THC Cannabis for intractable epilepsy.
  • Respectful disposition of unclaimed cremated remains of veterans.
  • Veteran’s branch of service on disabled veteran license plates.
  • Permit AAA benefit counselors to help clients prepare advance directives.
  • Assure no fewer than 28 Area Agencies on Aging in Texas.

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