History and Purpose of the South Carolina Silver Haired Legislature
by Thomas Wm. Lloyd, Speaker 2003-2007
The South Carolina Silver Haired Legislature, created in 1999 by statute, is one of 31 state groups in the United States including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Seniors in the state of Missouri formed the first Silver Haired Legislature in 1973.
The South Carolina Silver Haired Legislature, a unicameral body with 152 Representatives from the counties of the state, was created by the General Assembly, initiated in the House of Representatives, and signed into law by Governor James H. Hodges (Act 84, 6 /11/99). Focus groups involved in the forming of the South Carolina Silver Haired Legislature were the SC Area Agencies on Aging Association, the SC Council on Aging Directors Association, the SC Federation for Older Americans, and the SC Department of Health and Human Services Office of Senior and Long Term Care.
The South Carolina Silver Haired Legislature was created:
- To identify issues, concerns and possible solutions for problems facing the aging population in South Carolina;
- To make recommendations to the Governor, General Assembly, and various Departments and Agencies on Aging;
- To arrange for and participate in educational forums to explore issues related to older South Carolinians;
- To promote good government for all South Carolinians;
- To carry out all purposes and activities on a nonpartisan basis;
- To conduct general assembly sessions annually in the State Capitol.
The South Carolina Silver Haired Legislature held its first organizational and orientation meeting for its members on July 14, 1999 at the Capital Senior Center in Columbia, SC. All legislative sessions have been held at the State Capitol in the Chamber of the SC House of Representatives. Regional Area Caucuses meet throughout the year. Members of each Caucus prepare resolutions to be presented to the Speaker, who then, based on the topics, assigns them to six legislative committees. All Representatives participate as the committees debate their resolutions and submit three from each committee to the Speaker. The resolutions are distributed to the Representatives for discussion, voting, and listing in priority order at the annual legislative session held every year in September. The final approved resolutions are presented to the SC General Assembly, the Governor, and others in South Carolina.
Area Agencies on Aging, which play an important role in the ongoing local activities, work with the Area Caucuses. Each AAA assists the caucus in its region with issues affecting South Carolina seniors.