Legislative watch: Good news on H.R.1 and the 2011 congressional budget

Thank you to everyone who wrote, called and e-mailed Congressmen Dean Heller and Joe Heck to ask them to please rethink their vote on H.R.1 which would have totally dismantled the Senior Corps Programs (RSVP, Foster Grandparent & Senior Companion).

H.R.1 eliminated the Corporation for National and Community Service which funds the Senior Corps programs and would have given a pink slip to 5,000 volunteers in Nevada, and a half a million nationally. It made no sense to fire a half a million volunteers who unselfishly give millions of hours of their time to help tens of thousands of people in need. Thank goodness saner heads prevailed in the Senate where the bill failed.

It has been a real cliff-hanger. However, with all the support from people like you across the nation, funding for the Corporation was restored, although cut by $72 million. We can live with that, as it is better than killing us off entirely. A good lesson has been learned once again, and that is to always remember that the power is not in Washington, D.C., but with us, the people of this nation, who when outraged can work wonders. We won this one because so many people cared enough to protest very loudly and clearly against what was a very bad bill.

Now we need to worry about keeping funding for senior programs intact in this session of the Legislature. We are working very hard at that and so far it seems to be going along fairly well. But we must stay vigilant, as things can change in a heartbeat!

Here is an update for you on some senior issues: Assembly Bill 125 narrows the definition of crimes against older persons so that the Repository of Information Concerning Crimes Against Older Persons doesn't include many offenses that were never intended to be included in the repository. Senate Bill 128 proposes major changes to the guardian statutes, primarily those requiring background checks and laying out the duties and responsibilities of guardians. It should be heard in about a week. SB325 creates an Inspector General function in the Department of Administration. The present system provides no avenue for a person who has a complaint with Health and Human Services other than trying to see the governor. This would provide a resource for people to lodge any complaints. The IG would also be looking into fraud, waste and abuse, and providing recommendations to improve the operations of agencies. This bill was one of the priorities of the Nevada Senior Corps Association, of which I am President.

Next week we will see the Legislature passing or rejecting a ton of bills, and we will try to stay on top of it all for you. Stay tuned!

• Janice Ayres is president of Nevada Senior Corps Association.

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