Sixteen residents of Southeast Arkansas recently completed the two-day training for the 21st biennial session of the Arkansas Silver-Haired Legislature. The training was held at the Area Agency on Aging of Southeast Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
The 13 delegates and three alternate delegates will represent the Southeast District at the mock legislative session, which will be held Aug. 15 and 16 at Little Rock.
Delegates are Donald Lee Rufflin of DeWitt; Jo Stanfield, Eva Marie Pearson, David M. Kitchen, Faye Gant, Freddie A. Jenkins, Doyle (William) Ray, Gerald Andrews and Phillip McBee, all of Pine Bluff; Jeanette Bradshaw Lightfoot and Barbara Goodwin, both of White Hall; Sheere Scogin of Monticello; and Norman D. Clark of Sheridan. Alternate delegates are Patricia Clark of Sheridan; and Mary Stowe McBee and Barbara Rhinehart, both of Pine Bluff.
The Arkansas Silver-Haired Legislative Session was authorized by a concurrent resolution sponsored by Rep. B.G. Hendrix and the late Rep. W.F. “Bill” Foster in the 1977 Arkansas General Assembly.
Since the passage of the resolution, the Silver-Haired Legislative Sessions have been held in the summer or fall of even-numbered years, prior to the convening of the Arkansas General Assembly the following January. Sessions are usually held in the state House Chamber; however, the most recent session and this year's session are at different sites because of refurbishing work being done in the chamber. This year's session will be held at the Old State House Museum.
The Silver-Haired Legislative Session is sponsored by the Division of Aging, Adult and Behavioral Health Services in the Department of Human Services. The Division works cooperatively with the eight Area Agencies on Aging to manage all phases of this statewide project.
Ninety-nine senior citizens, all 60 years of age or older, will participate in the day and a half session,
which will include committee meetings at the state Capitol and a reception at the Governor's Mansion on the first day and the legislative session on the second day at the Old State House. All legislation passed during the Silver-Haired is presented in written form to the incoming General Assembly.
Since its inception in 1978, a number of the Silver-Haired bills have been introduced in the General Assembly and have become Arkansas aw.
During the two-day training session, participants learned about the Silver-Haired process, the legislative process, how a bill becomes a law and selected the topics for the three pieces of legislation that will be sponsored by the Southeast District.
Participants were welcomed by James Word, interim chief executive officer of the Area Agency on Aging of Southeast Arkansas. He introduced Carol Hayes, the Agency's community relations specialist and Silver-Haired coordinator; Cathy Tynes, the Agency's chief financial officer; Carolyn Ferguson, officer of community services with the Agency; and Barrie Hardin, volunteer moderator, formerly the Agency's vice president of community services.
Special guests at the training were representative of the Department of Human Services: Doris J. Clinkscale, administrative specialist; Kierra Walker, program coordinator; Sylvia Miller, administrative assistant; and Ronda Gilbert Hines, program administrator.
State Rep. Jeff Wardlaw of Warren discussed the legislative process, citing the difference between a bill and a resolution and revenue appropriations and other legislation.
The second day, Hardin took the group through the process of how a bill becomes a law in preparation for bill writing. After a lengthy discussion during which the participants broke into groups for a brain-storming session, they identified several issues and subsequently selected three for which to prepare legislation.