Some folks believe that the Alabama Silver-haired Legislature would do a good job if they were the “elected legislature.” In any event, they are not. However, there are a number of bills of interest to seniors that are supported by the group of seniors who serve in that group. They want the bills to be considered by the legislators in the current session of the Legislature. The following are some of the bills that have been endorsed by the seniors’ group:
• Long-term care improvements are needed. A bill will be introduced prohibiting the canceling of or increasing the premium on long-term care insurance policies.
• A bill will be introduced making mobility enhancing equipment and handicapped equipment should be exempt from all sales taxes.
• A bill making Medicaid cover treatment of certain women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer by any health care provider will be introduced.
• A bill will be introduced prohibiting healthcare providers from charging uninsured individuals more than Medicare would pay for the same type healthcare service.
• A bill prohibiting annual increase in ad valorem taxes if the owner is the same as for previous valuation will be introduced.
• A bill that would cause the income limit for the homestead exemption for the disabled and the aged to be increased from $7,500 to $15,000 will be introduced.
• The homestead exemption would be adjusted annually based on Gross National Product if a bill to be introduced passes.
• A bill to increase the current homestead exemption of $4,000 to $4,250 will be presented.
• A bill will be introduced to change the reappraisal of property to no more often than every four years.
• Extending the prohibition on parking in handicapped parking places to apply to any public or private property will be the subject of another bill to be introduced.
There are a number of other statewide issues of concern to senior citizens and which are also endorsed by the seniors’ group:
• Transportation – The creation of a Transportation Commission, consisting of five members, which would appoint the Director of Transportation.
• Identify theft – social security numbers – Legislation is backed requiring Judges of Probate to redact Social Security numbers from certain records available in electronic format and published on the Internet. Social Security numbers wouldn’t be published on records in probate offices.
• Tax Issues – The following tax-related items are back: Eliminating the federal income tax deduction from Alabama gross income; decreasing state sales tax on food; and exempting retirement income from defined contribution plans.
• Arbitration – Relief from mandatory, binding, arbitration, which is forced on consumers, is needed. There should be some arbitration agreements that are unenforceable in certain circumstances. Parties should be allowed to voluntarily choose arbitration, but shouldn’t be forced to accept arbitration in consumer disputes.
It will be interesting to see how many of the legislative issues will actually be dealt with during the session of the legislature and how many of the recommended bills will pass. There are a number of other areas of concern that the seniors’ group took a position on. If you want more information, e-mail them at: AlabamaSHL@aol.com.
Source: Senior Bill Report, February 2009
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