Dale Johnson of Alton represented Oregon, Shannon and Texas counties at the session. Johnson has served as the representative from the southwest region for 12 years. At the close of this year's session, Johnson was elected speaker of the SHL House of Representatives. He had served as speaker pro-temp of the SHL the last two years.
Johnson gave an update of what happened and the issues presented during the session.
"Delegates debated and voted on 21 separate proposals during a three-day session that took place at the Ramada Inn as well as the House and Senate chambers of the Capitol. Delegates heard presentations from Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and Attorney General Jay Nixon," Johnson said.
He said the delegates chose five priority bills for presentation to the 2005 session of the Missouri General Assembly. The general assembly will convene in mid-January.
Johnson said one of the SHL priorities will be funding for all meal programs. "This proposal would provide adequate funding for all meal programs, which would allow the more frail and disabled senior citizens in the state to continue to live in their own homes. This would reduce the need for Medicaid funded nursing home stays," Johnson said.
He said the second proposal involves payday loans and predator lending. "This proposal would change the laws regarding unsecured loans of $500 or less by limiting the interest and other fees that may be charged," Johnson said. He added that it would further prohibit repeated renewals of the loans.
Transportation services was also addressed by the SHL delegates. "This proposal provides funding for transportation services for seniors in rural areas of the state who need a means to visit medical providers, pharmacies and conduct essential shopping," he said
Number four on the SHL list was single entry point for all programs. "This would have the area agencies on aging become the designated point of entry for both caregivers planning for or in need of longterm care service," the delegate said.
He said the last SHL proposal deals with Medicaid. "We need to raise the asset level for Medicaid.
The current Medicaid asset level of $999 has not changed in many years. This proposal would raise that level to $2,000 for a single person and $3,000 for a married couple," Johnson said.