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Arkansas Silver Haired Legislative Session to meet after pandemic hiatus

By: - August 17, 2022 5:00 am

Arkansas will hold its first Silver Haired Legislative Session since 2018 today and tomorrow, according to a news release from the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

The non-partisan mock legislative session at the Capitol allows senior citizen “delegates” from across the state to write, discuss and vote on legislation addressing issues to older Arkansans.

State Lawmakers in next year’s Legislature will receive a report on the bills passed this week and might present the same issues as real bills during the 2023 legislative session, according to the news release.

“With all we’ve gone through in the past couple of years, coming together now and sharing the challenges facing our senior citizens is more important than ever,” said Jay Hill, director of DHS’ Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services.

The Silver Haired Legislative Session has been held every other year since 1978 with the exception of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. About 30 other states, including Texas and Oklahoma, have similar sessions.

Any Arkansas resident age 60 or older who does not work for the DHS divisions that conduct the Silver Haired Legislative Session is eligible to be a delegate and can serve more than once, according to the DHS website.

Potential delegates must collect the signatures of 25 residents of his or her county who are 60 or older and submit them to the local Area Agency on Aging in order to qualify for candidacy. The AAA then holds an election by secret ballot for senior citizens to choose between candidates. The senior with the most votes serves as the county delegate and the runner-up serves as an alternate.

This year’s inductees into the Senior Arkansans Hall of Fame will be recognized during the Silver Haired Legislative Session this evening at the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel in North Little Rock. DHS selects “outstanding senior Arkansans each year who have served their communities and enhanced the lives of fellow Arkansas seniors” to add to the Hall of Fame every year, according to the news release.

The three honorees for 2022 are Nelda Casey, board president of the Newton County Christian Food Room; Barrie Hardin, who helped implement a nutrition grant for the six senior living centers in Southeast Arkansas; and Helen “Tiny” Jones Reynolds, who has been involved with the Newton County Senior Center Ambassador Board and the Newton County Senior Activity Wellness Center.

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Tess Vrbin
Tess Vrbin

Tess Vrbin came to the Advocate from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, where she reported on low-income housing and tenants' rights, and won awards for her coverage of 2021 flooding and tornado damage in rural Arkansas. She previously covered local government for The Commercial Dispatch in Mississippi and state government for the Columbia Daily Tribune in Missouri. A Midwesterner by birth, she graduated from the University of Missouri's journalism school in 2019.

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