Salisbury man attends AARP North Carolina conference

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 12, 2012

Raleigh — Jerry Shelby from Salisbury attended a AARP North Carolina “Key Legislative Contact” Conference in Raleigh on February 9th.
The purpose of the conference was to train volunteers to increase legislators’ responsiveness to AARP’s key legislative priorities through regular personal contact with lawmakers in their districts. The conference, involving more than 120 persons, is part of a continuing effort by AARP to establish a network of at least one key legislative contact person from each on North Carolina’s 120 state house legislative districts. Jerry Shelby and Jo Kearns from Salisbury are representatives from Rowan County House Districts 76 (Fred Steen) and 77 Harry Warren), and Senate District 34 (Andrew Brock).
At the conference the Rowan County Delegate, Jerry Shelby, participated in AARP issue briefings and advocacy panel discussions, heard presentations on “How to Advocate” and “Keeping up with Legislature”. A review of the 2011 Legislative Session actions was compared to the AARP 2011 priorities. Workshops were held on the Nuts and Bolts of Being an Effective Advocate, Preparing for Contact with Legislatures, Working with Media, Reaching Out to Others to Enlist Their Support, and Making Presentations on Priority Issues.
Representative Nelson Dollar, Wake County, was the keynote speaker. Representative Dollar is the House Appropriations Chairman. His topic was “Being an Effective Advocate – A Legislator’s Perspective.”
Dennis Street, North Carolina Director of Aging and Adult Services spoke about what to expect in 2012 legislative short session that convenes May 9th.
Bill Wilson, Deputy Director N.C. Justice Center spoke about what to expect in the 2012 Legislative Session and the role of Key Legislative Contacts in the current political climate. He noted the changes to the legislature as a result of the last elections, the redistricting, the overall N.C. Legislature low approval rating of 16 percent, and the state per capita spending is at a 25 year low.
John Hishta, AARP Vice President presented AARP’s national Medicare and Social Security Campaign to save these “earned benefits” programs for retirees. He presented statistics what the poverty rate and quality of life would be without them or even a reduction in the programs would be.
The Key Contact Delegates will concentrate in five issue areas: 1. In-Home and Community Service, 2. Healthcare Accessibility and Affordability, 3. Senior Friendly Communities, 4. Families and Vulnerable Older Disabled Adults, 5. Drive to End Hunger in Older Adults. The five issue areas have a total of 28 priority items the county Key Contact Delegate’s will be working on to get passed in the state legislature.
The first five priority projects will include: 1. Increase the funding for the home and community block grant for meals on wheels and reduce the number on waiting lists, 2. Increase funding for Project CARE to give support to caregiver’s of persons with Alzheimer’s. 3. Preserve Medicaid eligibility and services for older and disabled adults. 4. Increase funding for Senior Centers. 5. Protecting consumers and fighting fraud.
A planning session was held for the Key Contacts Delegates to set up meetings with their local representatives and senator to discuss the NC AARP issue areas.
The local AARP Chapter meets the first Thursday of each month at the Rufty-Holmes Senior Center starting at 1:00. The local chapter offers members a variety of community service, education, advocacy and leadership, and fellowship opportunities. Senior citizens over the age of 50 are encouraged to attend the meetings and be a member of the local chapter. Mr. Shelby, and Ms. Kearns, are available at the meetings to listen to your senior advocacy issues.