Legislative watch: Things are heating up at the Legislature | NevadaAppeal.com

Legislative watch: Things are heating up at the Legislature

For the Nevada Appeal

Things are going full speed now at the Legislature with a ton of bills to get through, but I have to say, they are really handling this “worst of the worst” session quite well.

I testified on April 27 before the Senate Finance Committee on Senate Bill 421, which involved, among others, funding for senior programs through the Tobacco Settlement Agreement. My testimony was well received and I am hoping for the best since our seniors heavily rely on these services to help keep them at home and out of institutions. As bills come out (or die) regarding seniors, we will keep you posted.

The good news is that the state found some new money. I see that so far $50 million has been spent in “add backs” for some truly needy programs. And I am happy that $2.2 million was added back to the Aging and Disability Services Division for Elder Protective Services and not shoved on to the counties to try and finance and operate.

At the national level, we are endeavoring to keep you abreast of all the strategies being pursued to do away with all volunteer programs under the Corporation for National and Community Service by 2012. One of the answers I heard from Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, given as to why he wanted to get rid of CNCS, was that volunteer programs under CNCS, such as RSVP, had outlived their usefulness and should be replaced with more up-to-date programs.

Well excuse me.

Volunteers are the backbone of this nation and no one should ever forget it. They give of themselves every day to make life better for others. They don’t get paid, and though there is a cost for operating volunteer programs, it is the cheapest of the cheapest.

Since Rep. Heller (now Sen. Heller) voted to do away with our volunteer programs while in the House, we wonder what his vote will be in 2012 in the Senate? Maybe we should ask him.

There was a wonderful story yesterday in a Reno newspaper about Joe Dini, a true statesman and longtime Speaker of the House. He said he has spoken to Gov. Sandoval, telling him to take care of the senior citizens because they are pretty good people and need some help. Thank you, Joe, for remembering us; not many do these days.

Bets are that the legislature will run into a special session this year because of all the bills and problems with cutting education and essential services, plus the redistricting issue. We will stay on top of it and keep you posted.

• Janice Ayres is president of Nevada Senior Corps Association. ꆱ