Thirty-three bills aimed at improving the quality of life of senior citizens passed during the recently ended session of the Texas Legislature, a group established to support the elderly said Monday.

John H. Holcomb, a member of the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature (TSHL) from Granbury, passed through Stephenville and handed out a summary of the bills’ accomplishments.

The state Legislature created the TSHL more than 20 years ago to promote issues for senior citizens at the state Capitol.

According to the TSHL, the Legislature aided seniors by:

Reducing taxes by including “senior and disabled homeowners in the recent property tax reduction given to other homeowners.” Limiting the “maximum average annual percentage increase in the appraised value of a residence homestead for ad valorem taxes.” Expanding public/private partnerships to “deliver meals to seniors’ homes, with greater coverage in rural areas.”

The TSHL reports that the Texas Department of Agriculture has invited TSHL to assist in developing rules to govern the program.

Setting aside $100 million from general revenue in the budget to fund an increase for nursing homes.

“Those state funds will generate another $150 million in federal funds,” the TSHL reports. “The result will be an increase of three percent next year for nursing homes, followed by another eight percent the following year.”

Boosting the Medicaid “personal needs allowance” to $60 per month. Increasing funding to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, and a one-time supplemental annuity payment. Establishing a statewide “Silver Alert” program to “find missing seniors quickly, before they encounter injury or death by straying beyond their usual surroundings.” Allowing state judicial review of declined Medicare coverage claims. Reforming Medicaid provisions to “provide focus on prevention, individual choice, better planning and modern services, all designed to reduce Texas’ rate of uninsured and help Texans live longer, healthier lives.”

DOUG MYERS is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at doug.myers@empiretribune.com or (254) 965-3124, ext. 229.