Senior citizens not the only beneficiaries of priorities

The Silver Haired Legislature deserves to be commended for advancing a thoughtful and compassionate list of priorities.

Each year, the mock legislature gathers to discuss, debate and select five issues to pursue as state laws.

The proposals, as the silver-haired designation implies, pertain largely to quality-of-life issues for senior citizens.

This year, however, one of the selected priorities — restrictions on payday loans — is of interest to all Missourians, not only senior citizens.

Bill Trimm, a member of the Silver Haired Legislature, deplores the high interest rates attached to the loans of $500 or less.

“It’s just not fair to pay that exorbitant rate of interest,” Trimm said.

He also acknowledged the scope of the “powerful issue,” adding, “it’s not fair to young people. A lot of young people use payday loans as well as old people.”

Another priority is creation of a “Silver Alert” system to locate and rescue missing senior citizens. The system would be similar to the “Amber Alert” now used in cases of missing children.

Member Pat Donehue said the system is needed “because every family in the next 10 year will have somebody with dementia within their family.”

Other priorities aim to:

• Restore, then increase, funding for meals at senior centers and “Meals on Wheels” delivered to the homebound elderly.

• Raise the “asset level” of money seniors can keep and still qualify for Medicaid and Senior Rx assistance.

• Improve criminal background checks for employees involved in long-term care.

We believe these priorities form a reasonable approach to improving practical safeguards for Missouri’s senior citizens.

And, by extension, they will enhance peace of mind for their friends and family members.

The members of the Silver Haired Legislature, once again, deserve thanks for the time and energy they have devoted in service not only to their peers, but on behalf of all Missourians.

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