In 1969, states were encouraged by an act of Congress to create a body of aging adults who would identify important aging issues and educate their respective state legislative bodies about those issues by forming advocacy groups.
The Kansas Silver-Haired Legislature (KSHL) was created in 1982 as a unicameral legislature composed of 125 representatives. All are 60-years-old or older and are elected from their county of residence. Wyandotte, Johnson, Shawnee and Sedgwick counties have five additional representatives.
The Kansas Silver-Haired Legislature identifies priority concerns of Kansans over 60 years of age and develops resolutions designed to address those identified concerns. The KSHL presents those resolutions to the Kansas Legislature and governor as recommendations for state policy.
SHL representatives advocate for the KSHL legislation with state legislators, testify at hearings regarding KSH Legislation and meet with aging adults in their county and district about aging legislation.
Every two years, six delegates for Johnson County are selected. There is no election if six or fewer candidates file for this position. In January 2021, five incumbents filed and will serve terms again to represent Johnson County in the SHL. One person will be appointed. The 2021-2023 Johnson County SHL delegation, so far, includes:
Gary R. Scott of Olathe is a lifelong Kansan and an advocate for healthcare, transportation and reduction of taxes for the aging population. He taught 32 years in the Shawnee Mission School District, and eight years at Johnson County Community College. He has been a volunteer in many capacities with Olathe schools, Special Olympics, Johnson County Adult Residential Center, home-delivered meals, local 5k and 10k races, election campaigns, and youth baseball and softball. Jerry Ireland of Lenexa is a long-time advocate for the elderly, serving 10 years in the SHL. He is retired from the U.S. Navy and worked as a hospital business office manager. He has been a caregiver for his parents and is married to an R.N. who specializes in eldercare. He is an advocate for health care, elder abuse prevention and in-home care supports for aging adults.
Jeanie Adkins-Peine of Overland Park is an advocate for older adults, grandparent rights, reduction in taxes and affordable transportation. She worked with a touring agency in Mexico, volunteered with fourth graders in the Shawnee Mission School District, helped veterans in rehab centers, rode with the Patriot Guard at military funerals and has worked with the elderly and mentally challenged adults.
Katherine “Katy” Hoffman of Lenexa is a retired administrative assistant from the Johnson County District Court, served on the Commission on Aging and is involved with the Daughters of Isabella, advocating unity, friendship and charity. She is interested in presenting aging adults’ concerns, advocating because “Seniors Count!” and wants to encourage aging adults to become involved and share their ideas and needs with the SHL. She started a food pantry at a senior housing complex and regularly listens to and responds to the needs of aging adults.
Mary Penrose of Prairie Village has a master’s degree in adult education and worked in adult education and real estate. She is an advocate for homeless and women’s shelters and has an interest in the well-being of aging adults and youngsters. She advocates for people to be active, informed and connected to community resources.