Legislative watch: SB178 denies seniors services

Senate Bill 178 sure is a humdinger of a bill if I ever saw one. At first glance it would appear to be geared toward foreign nationals producing birth certificates in order to vote. However, as you read on and get into sections 12 and 13, you see a gigantic nightmare coming for volunteer social service agencies such as Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and many others providing free services underwritten by state and local grants.

According to this bill, if a service falls under one of these grants and a senior calls RSVP and asks us for that service, he or she must produce a birth certificate or a passport prior to being given the service requested. Many of RSVP's seniors don't have a birth certificate because they were delivered at home by a neighbor. As they are low-income they sure don't have a passport, and other IDs are not acceptable.

In short, our RSVP program would need to go back and get this proof from the thousands of seniors we have been serving before we could continue to provide Home Companions, respite care, pro bono legal services, farmer's market produce, commodity foods, exercise classes, etc. Some of these seniors we have served for 30 years! And what about the Senior Centers? Would they need to have proof of citizenship at every meal (because attendees vary from day to day) before letting the senior have some food?

The fiscal notes to SB178 say there will be little or no fiscal impact. I beg to differ, because there would be fiscal impact on the social services agencies endeavoring to meet these requirements. However, RSVP could handle that. What really concerns me is to deny service to a senior that RSVP has been taking care of for 30 years because now she can't prove her citizenship although she has lived here all her life.

Through RSVP's pro bono attorney Lora Myles, an amendment has been submitted to the bill which exempts all persons 60 years of age and older from having to follow these procedures. If you wish to add your support, send a message to the Senate to exempt seniors 60 plus from SB178. Please e-mail them senjud@lcb.state.nv.us.

Thank you.

My next column will be on H.R.1, the House bill that did away entirely with all Senior Corps programs, of which RSVP is one. And yes, Rep. Dean Heller voted for it. More on this coming up.

• Janice Ayres is president of Nevada Senior Corps Association.


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