In 1969, states were encouraged by an act of Congress to create a body of seniors who would identify issues important to older adults age 60+ and educate their respective state legislative bodies about those issues. States started adding advocacy groups, and the Kansas Silver-Haired Legislature (KSHL) was created in 1982 as a unicameral legislature composed of 125 representatives. All are 60+ years old and are elected from their county of residence. Wyandotte, Johnson, Shawnee and Sedgwick have five additional representatives.
The Kansas Silver-Haired Legislature identifies priority concerns of Kansans over 60 years of age; develops resolutions designed to address those identified concerns; and presents those resolutions to the Kansas legislature & governor as recommendations for state policy. SHL representatives advocate for the KSHL legislation with state legislators, testify at hearings held regarding KSHL legislation, and meet with seniors in their county & district about legislation affecting older adults.
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 Kansas citizen and an advocate for healthcare, transportation, and reduction of taxes for seniors. He taught 32 years in the Shawnee Mission School District, and 8 years at Johnson County Community College. He has been a volunteer in many capacities with Olathe schools, Special Olympics, ARC, home-delivered meals, local 5k and 10k races, election campaigns, and with 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 seniors.
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 4th 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 seniors’ concerns, advocating because “Seniors Count!” and wants to encourage seniors 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 seniors.
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 the Homeless and Women’s Shelters and has an interest in the well-being of seniors and youngsters. She advocates for people to be active, informed, and connected to community resources.