House backs bill to create state agency for senior citizens

Advocate file photo -- The Louisiana state Capitol building in Baton Rouge. Show caption
Advocate file photo -- The Louisiana state Capitol building in Baton Rouge.

State Rep. Joe Harrison took a victory lap in the Louisiana House chamber Tuesday after bringing the state Department of Elderly Affairs one step closer to needing official letterhead.

The Louisiana House voted 67-29 Tuesday in favor of House Bill 1256, which would move the state Department of Health and Hospitals and the state Department of Children and Family Services under the same umbrella. The move is necessary because the state is at its maximum constitutional limit on the number of executive branch departments that can exist in state government.

“You have my solemn promise this is going to work for the state. Let’s make Louisiana the first example of what we can do for the seniors,” Harrison, R-Napoleonville, told the House.

Harrison created the framework for a department to focus on the needs of senior citizens last year. Now the focus is on making room for it to become a reality.

Parish councils on aging officials have long wanted more attention on senior citizen issues, such as funding for meals on wheels programs and senior centers.