Senior Power: Current Awareness: “What’s the CSL?”

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Monday May 17, 2010 - 09:48:00 PM

How’s your current awareness ? If you’re aged in California, you should know about the CSL.Alas, too many people have never heard of it. 

1. CSL stands for ____________ [one of these] 

California Senior Legislature 

Consejo de Leyes de Seguro Social 

Council on Social Legislation 

2. TRUE? FALSE? The California Commission on Aging was recently requested to develop a forum through which older Californians could develop their legislative priorities. 

3. The CSL is: check any that apply: 

Nonpartisan Volunteer 

Elected Made up of persons 50 years of age and older 

Funded by taxes Established by state law 


The California Assembly’s standing Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care’s primary jurisdiction consists of the Area Agencies on Aging, California Department of Aging, Older Americans Act, Older Californians Act, California Senior Legislature and State Commission on Aging, as well as long-term care services, senior citizens advocacy activities, and services for seniors in residential and day settings 

In 1980, the State Legislature requested the Commission on Aging to develop a forum through which older Californians could develop their legislative priorities. The California Senior Legislature (CSL) was established the following year. It is a nonpartisan, volunteer organization of 120 elected members who generate bill proposals on senior issues. CSL receives no state, general or federal funds. Its operating funds come from State Income Tax donations.  

As established by state law, the mission of the CSL is to help preserve and enhance the quality of life for older Californians and their families. CSL objectives include identifying priority senior concerns, developing legislative proposals in response to those concerns, and advocating for their inclusion in legislative proposals of the State Legislature. 

The California Senior Legislature will celebrate 30 years of service to older Californians at its 2010 Annual Legislative Session in Sacramento October 26 – 28. In the past, sessions have been televised on the California Channel. 


Forty Senior Senators and 80 Senior Assembly Members are elected by their peers (persons 60 years of age and older) to represent seniors throughout the State. There are 5 different ways that the local (county) Area Agencies on Aging can manage these elections.The Commission on Aging permits them to make that choice, contending that “Each area is different and their resources vary in nature so they have to adapt to what works for them.”  

The CSL is “a shell of its former self” declares a colleague, and I agree. The so-called choice does not appear to be an election by one’s peers. In Alameda County this year, the Advisory Commission on Aging, whose members are appointed, determined that the election be by secret votes by AAA Commissioners (appointees) and heldduring the regular Advisory Commission on Aging meeting on May 10th. If the general public or any organizations had wanted to show support for any of the candidates, they could have done so by a letter of support before April 21st. 

The CSL has met in Sacramento each October to convene a model legislative session in the chambers and hearing rooms of the State Capitol. Members participate in hearing testimony, debating issues, and voting to approve or disapprove up to 120 legislative proposals. Senior Legislators seek State lawmakers to author at least 10 of the Session's priority proposals. They then work throughout the year to ensure adoption of these measures. Those currently active in the Legislature include:  

AJR 34: Hearing aid availability and cost. 

My CSL source doubts that this will go further. “There are many opponents. It sounds great but the medical professions object because it references over the counter hearing aids. … Last year it was picked up by a legislator but dropped eventually.” 

AB 2051:Disaster emergency transportation for disabled and seniors.  

AB 2051 Proposal AP25 “was a good one but if the program requires funding from the State, then it's not going to go…”  

SCR 74: Senior volunteer month

“… Proposal Honoring Senior Volunteers in May is almost a done deal.”  

AJR 32: Gender discrimination.  

“AJR 32 SFP1 … looks very much like it’s on neutral ground so it may pass but I do not know how the Governor will feel.” 

A sidelight: In 2004, Senior Senator Joanna Kim-Selby proposed what came to be known as the “grab bar” bill.It would have required the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) regarding installation of grab bars and non-skid flooring or mats in hotel bathrooms. It passed both houses and was sent to Governor Schwarzenegger, who returned it, unsigned. So watch your step. 



The “City of Berkeley OLDER ADULT RESOURCE GUIDE 2009” is available at the North Berkeley Senior Center (corner MLK and Hearst, (510)981-5190). Request your free copy at the front desk… after you sign in.Attendance statistics are vital to a senior center’s survival! 

The Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists [1606 Bonita Ave., 94709-2022. (510) 841-4824] is hosting the Berkeley Cache, a Berkeley Disaster Preparedness Neighbor Network, on Thursday, May 20 at 7 P.M. “BFUU seeks to be a ‘sanctuary’ during times of crisis or emergency.” This is especially needed in these times of curtailment of senior center functions (During a 2002 fire, tenants from a neighboring senior and disabled persons’ apartment house were evacuated to BFUU’s building.). 

I recently received an email from a Berkeley Daily Planet reader in New Zealand! More Senior Power columns FEEDBACK would be appreciated. Please let me know what you think of this column, as well as what you would like to read about in it… problems, topics you want addressed or discussed. For example, ageism, caregivers, new books, elder abuse, events calendar, health, HIPPIA, hospice, housing, in-home care, interviews, Lavender seniors, legal resources, local senior celebrities, Q&A, Section 8, Spanish language version, status of women, transportation. It would be helpful if you would include your age, city of residence or employment, and other characteristics.  

Helen Rippier Wheeler can be reached at 

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