Rep. Johnson tapped for new legislative committee on aging and disability


Aug. 14, 2013

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Rep. Johnson tapped for new legislative committee on aging and disability

State Rep. Norm Johnson has been chosen by House Speaker Frank Chopp to serve on the Joint Legislative-Executive Committee on Aging and Disability. The committee, which is tasked to identify key strategic actions to plan for the increasing population of the elderly and disabled in Washington, was created through the state operating budget measure, Senate Bill 5034, during the 2013 legislative session.

“We have a growing population of elderly residents in Washington, partially because the baby-boom generation is living longer due to advances in medicine, preventative needs, and healthy living. Plus, many areas across Washington characterized as recreational and retirement areas have attracted higher numbers of senior citizens to our state,” said Johnson, R-Yakima.

Johnson points to a report by the Washington State Office of Financial Management which showed that in 2012, persons age 65 and older made up more than 13 percent of the state’s population. In Klickitat County, 19.2 percent of the population is 65 or older; 15.4 percent in Skamania County, 12.4 percent in Clark County, and 12.2 percent in Yakima County.

“It is essential we plan now for the continued growth of this population, which is often heavily dependent upon state services and community resources, such as housing, transportation, income support and protection for vulnerable adults. This committee will discuss future needs and how they can be met,” noted Johnson.

The enacting legislation specifies the committee is to:

  • establish a profile of Washington’s current population of older people and people with disabilities and a projection of population growth through 2030;
  • create an inventory of services and support systems, including health care and long-term care currently available to the elderly and those with disabilities;
  • identify policies to more effectively use state, federal and private resources and to ease the burden of costs against the state budget;
  • determine options to help communities adapt to the aging demographic in planning for housing, land use and transportation; and
  • identify policies that promote financial security in retirement, financing mechanisms that will promote additional private responsibility for individuals and families, and strategies to better serve the health care needs of the aged and vulnerable.

The committee will issue an interim report to the Legislature by Dec. 10, 2013, and final recommendations to the governor and Legislature by Dec. 10, 2014.

Johnson, a retired educator and principal from the Toppenish School District, has served as a trustee of Yakima Regional Hospital and as board chairman of Toppenish Providence Hospital.

“I’ve worked extensively on health care issues in our community, especially as it pertains to those with long-term disabilities, and on interests of our senior citizens since that is my generation. I am honored and proud to provide a voice for them on this committee,” added Johnson. “We want to be sure our senior and disabled populations have the resources and the care they need in the future. But we can’t wait until then. We must begin today. And that’s why this committee’s work will be so important.”

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