House of Delegates Working to Assist Virginia’s Seniors

Legislation Promotes Long Term Care, Tax Exemption, and State Park Discount Programs AARP visited the Capitol this week to begin an intensive advocacy effort promoting long term care, access to transit to health care and other parts of their legislative agenda. In addition to these efforts to address the priorities of Virginia’s aging population, Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) today discussed other legislation to help improve the lives of Virginia's senior citizens.

Peace is chief patron of a budget amendment to secure funds for the Department for the Aging. The funding would create the Virginia Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. The program provides for additional funding to the Department to increase the number of local ombudsmen throughout the state. State code requires one ombudsman to every 2,000 long-term care beds.

"This amendment will help to improve the quality of care that seniors receive," Peace said. "With a grandmother age 94, I understand and appreciate the difficult choices families must make when an senior loved one is involved and we must work to improve access to care for this growing population," Peace further stated.

House Bill 1447, patroned by Delegate Ingram, expands on House Republicans previous efforts relating to the delivery of long-term health care services. The bill adds representatives of housing, transportation, and other appropriate local organizations that provide long-term care services to the membership of local long-term care coordination committees. House Bill 1447 was passed unanimously by the House last Friday.

"The majority of long-term care services for the elderly and disabled are provided at the local level by public and private organizations and most by family caregivers who need access to coordinated information and services," noted Delegate Ingram.

Delegate Sherwood's House Bill 163 updates the basis upon which localities grant a real estate tax exemption or deferral to elderly and handicapped persons. Under the current law, the previous year's income and financial worth is used. House Bill 163 is on second reading today on the House floor after passing unanimously out of the House Finance Committee.

"It has come to my attention that a senior citizen may become ineligible for a real estate tax exemption when the death of a spouse occurs," declared Delegate Sherwood. "This legislation will give localities an expanded tool to help provide relief to the elderly and handicapped."

Delegate Danny Marshall is patron of HB 378 provides for the Department of Conservation and Recreation to establish a Virginia Golden Age Card authorizing citizens of the Commonwealth who are 60 years of age or older to enter the camping facilities of Virginia's state parks at a 50% discount for a maximum of 14 days in any calendar year.

"Although my bill was carried over to next year, it is a good bill to help seniors," said Delegate Marshall. "Most of our senior citizens have paid Virginia taxes all their adult lives and are now living on fixed incomes. Giving them the opportunity to get a discount in Virginia’s state parks is a way to make recreational facilities more economical and available to them."

Today, during a meeting with members of the Hanover and Mechanicsville Chapters of AARP, Delegate Peace offered remarks on the impact of payday lending legislation as it affects the senior community. "I support reforming the industry that often leads people into further financial problems. I have great concern for families that have faced financial troubles with payday lenders," Peace noted.