TSHL Fast Facts
How long has the TSHL been in existence?
TSHL was authorized by the 69th Texas Legislature with the adoption of SCR 37 on April 3, 1985
How many delegates are there in TSHL?
A total of 123 delegates may be elected to serve in the unicameral Texas-Silver Haired Legislature.
What are the requirements for candidacy?
Candidates must be:
60 years or older prior to the deadline for filing for election
A resident of the AAA region where he/she is filing as a candidate
A registered voter of the State of Texas
Willing and able to participate in all activities required and expected of Texas Silver-Haired Legislators
Willing and able to research, debate, and advocate for/against issues affecting older Texans in a nonpartisan manner
I am an active member of a political party in the State of Texas. Does this prohibit me from being elected to TSHL?
TSHL members may participate in partisan politics or any political campaign as an individual.
However, members may not indicate in any manner that the TSHL is taking a position in such partisan politics or election campaigns, nor shall any member use the TSHL name or seal in any way that suggests that TSHL is taking a position in partisan politics or election campaigns.
How many delegates can there be from each Area Agency on Agency in the State?
The metropolitan areas of Bexar County, the Capital Area, Dallas County, Harris County, and Tarrant County may have six (6) members each
The Houston-Galveston area is eligible to have five (5) members
The remaining 22 AAA regions have may have four (4) members each
The TSHL officers are authorized to temporarily increase the allotment of legislators from any AAA region, at the request of the AAA Director, and when the total membership is fewer than 123.
What is the length of a TSHL term, and how many terms can a member serve?
TSHL members are elected in odd-numbered years for two-year terms. There are no limits to the number of terms a member may serve in the TSHL.
Is meeting attendance required and how many times does the TSHL meet during a term?
TSHL members are expected to attend three general sessions during the two-year term:
Orientation Session – held in July of odd-numbered years
Training Session – held in October of odd-numbered years
Legislative Session – held in April/May of even-numbered years
If elected/appointed as a chair of a standing committee or an AAA representative to the Executive Committee, a member is also expected to attend quarterly Executive Committee meetings. Each TSHL member serves on an Administrative Committee and a Legislative Issues Committee and is expected to attend committee meetings as called during the two-year term.
General sessions are typically held in Austin and require a 4-5 day stay. Many committee meetings are held as hybrid or virtual sessions with some members physically present together and others on teleconference or videoconference.
Are TSHL members compensated?
No. TSHL members are responsible for their own expenses except that, as funds become available, the TSHL Foundation Board may authorize subsidizing expenses for general sessions or may provide travel when a member is asked to testify in person regarding legislation for which TSHL is officially advocating.
How is TSHL funded?
The Texas Silver-Haired Legislature Foundation (TSHLF) was established for the purpose of providing a source of funding to support the advocacy and education efforts of TSHL on behalf of Texas’ older citizens. Expenditures of funds follow the guidelines imposed by the TSHLF Charter, Bylaws, the TSHLF certification by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization, and by the Texas Comptroller’s Office.
General Information about TSHL
The Texas Silver-Haired Legislature is a nonpartisan organization comprised of up to 123 Texans, 60 years or older, elected by and representing the 28 Texas Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs). Authorized by the 69th Texas Legislature in April 1985 to address the needs and concerns of older Texans through the legislative process, the full TSHL body meets in general session three times during the legislative biennium.
In July of odd-numbered years, TSHL convenes for member orientation and election of officers including Speaker, Speaker Pro Tem, Deputy Speaker Pro Tem, Secretary, and Comptroller. At this orientation session, chairs of the administrative committees, which include communications, elections & credentials, finance, operations, and technology, are appointed by the Speaker. Additionally, the Speaker appoints the Chair, Vice-Chair, and Secretary of the Legislative Action Committee (LAC). All TSHL members serve on one of the administrative committees.
Additionally, each member serves on a Legislative Issues Committee (LIC). These committees are structured in a similar fashion to the Texas House of Representatives committees and include: Criminal Justice; Health and Human Resources; Human Services; Pensions, Investments, Insurance & Financial Services; Retirement and Aging, Rural-Urban Affairs, State Affairs, and Utilities and National Resources.
An October session in odd-numbers years is dedicated to member training on identification of issues relating to older Texans, legislative research, writing resolutions advocating on behalf of seniors, and continuing advocacy prior to and during the next State Legislative session. During the Training Session members learn the essentials to be better advocates on behalf of all seniors in Texas and garner information on topics by researching issues important to seniors and preparing to testify before House and Senate committees on these issues.
The TSHL Legislative session is held in the spring (April/May) of even-numbered years. During this session, members meet on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives to debate and vote on proposed resolutions identified by the Legislative Issues Committees. Resolutions which are approved during the session are presented in a “Legislative Report,” which is delivered to all members of the State Legislature, the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Comptroller. The Top 10 Prioritized Resolutions are identified in the Legislative Report, and TSHL members, led by the Legislative Action Committee, work with Texas Legislators to turn the resolutions into bills, to track legislation affecting older Texans, and to testify when called upon as advocates for older Texans.
The vision of TSHL is that the “applied wisdom, energy, and experience of aging will improve the lives of all Texans through education, knowledge, and involvement in legislation and governmental affairs.” Therefore, TSHL members host local and regional town halls, speak to civic and professional organizations, and work with their respective AAAs to provide older Texans an opportunity to become more knowledgeable about and involved with the legislative process in the State. Since the inception of TSHL, over 200 bills have passed the Legislature that were directly influenced by the work of the TSHL.