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EDITOR, Daily News:
During session, the Alaska State Legislature passed multiple bills that affect our senior citizens. It is the duty of the Legislature to protect and serve all citizens. In my time in office, I have made it a priority to try to protect the interests of our elders — those who helped to establish this great state.
The Senior Benefits Payment Program (formerly known as the Longevity Bonus created in 1972) passed during session and was signed into law by the governor earlier this summer. The Senior Benefits Program provides a modest monthly cash payment to low-income seniors to help pay for food, heating, electricity, transportation, and prescription medication. It aids nearly 12,000 Alaskans. It was originally expected to end in June of 2018, but will now continue until 2024.
Another bill affecting all people, including our older generations, is the ‘Smoke-Free Workplace’ bill. Our local AARP was in favor of passing the bill; it passed near the end of session and was signed into law earlier this month.
The Legislature also passed a bill that protects the privacy and vulnerability of those who report abuse or neglect of an older Alaskan. Certain reporting protocols within the Office of the Long Term Care Ombudsman and the Department of Health and Social Services have been changed to protect the privacy of the complainant while still allowing the state to conduct a thorough and safe investigation.
If you have any questions or concerns about legislative actions taken this past session, feel free to email me at Rep.Dan.Ortiz@akleg.gov.
REP. DAN ORTIZ
House District 36