Leonard Scheufler, 74, of Wellington, recently participated in the 37th Kansas Silver Haired Legislature session in Topeka. The organization, established by the Kansas Legislature, consists of individuals, aged 60 and over, elected by their peers to develop bills and resolutions of interest to Kansas seniors and their families.
The 2019 Kansas Silver Haired Legislature considered and recommended legislation pertaining to:
• Support for Medicaid Expansion.
“In Kansas they’re losing a lot of hospitals because of that,” Scheufler said. “I think they said they closed 22 hospitals in the state of Kansas last year.”
• Continued support for the KDOT Rural Public Transportation program.
“Especially in the western half of Kansas, people have to go 50 or 60 miles to the doctor and have no one to take them there,” Scheufler said.
• Support for the State of Kansas to fully fund KPERS as the law stipulates and to pass a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) for KPERS beneficiaries.
Scheufler said there has not been a COLA raise in 28 years and that the state of Kansas has borrowed money from KPERS it has not paid back.
• Protect grandparents rights in child custody and visitation cases, plus providing financial assistance in guardianship matters.
“We have grandparents that are raising grandchildren,” Scheufler said, adding that if they were foster parents they would be compensated more.
• Support for the removal of sales tax on food.
“A lot of senior citizens have to choose between medicine and eating,” Scheufler said. “If we eliminate the sales tax on food, we would have to come up $436 million.” He added that maybe there could be a way old people would not have to pay sales tax.
• Discussed support for legalizing the sale of medicinal cannabis in Kansas.
“A lot of senior citizens in pain could use it,” he said, adding that if it is not legalized it could sell on the black market and without being regulated could be strong and have hallucinogens.
Still, Scheufler said he is against it because it would be another step toward legalizing marijuana.
This was Scheufler’s first year on the Silver Haired Legislature. It’s the kind of thing he is used to. Scheufler recalled how he was the legislative representative for the engineers’ union for 28 years while working for BNSF.
“I love it,” he said.