OPINION: Bill Will Make "Baby Boomers" More Viable

By Maryland Senator Roy Dyson

You may have seen the commercials featuring the actor Dennis Hopper, director and star of the 1960s counter-culture hit “Easy Rider.”

In it, the popular actor is decked out in sunglasses, a hip outfit and is reading the definition of retirement out of a dictionary only to dispute it saying “You still have things to do right? You have dreams. And there is no age limit on dreams. The thing about dreams is they don’t retire.”

I agree with Hopper’s sentiments. Ironically, I am sponsoring legislation that will encourage retirees to stay active and pursue their dreams. My legislation—Senate Bill 700 – The Baby Boomer Initiative Act has several ambitious goals.

It establishes a council to examine issues around civic engagement and lifelong learning for the Baby Boomer population of Maryland. Civic engagement is defined as work or volunteer services that give back to the community, such as education, health care, social services and civil service.

For the record, baby boomers are officially defined as those individuals born between 1946 to 1964.

This bill is important because by 2010, there will be approximately 1.8 million individuals in this age group. The first of the Baby Boomer population turned 60 in 2006.

The economic impact of this bill is significant. This population is the most educated in American history; the workforce increased by 50 percent with this population from 1980-2000 and there will be a vacuum of intellectual capital left in their absence if the Baby Boomers are not encouraged and assisted with work and civic engagement opportunities.

The social impact is that there is a vast resource here of individuals who are intelligent, experienced and ready to assist with improving the most vital aspects of our society.

The Council will examine the following:

1) Flexible work hours and part-year work.

2) The concept of what Baby Boomers’ roles are in the workplace.

3) Older Americans do not want to lose part of their pensions or Social Security benefits by working in retirement.

4) Special tax breaks for those who work in fields of civic engagement.

5) A significant number of Americans strongly support the idea of a grant or tax credit for Americans over the age of 50 who spend a year in training for community service.

There are opportunities for Federal Funding if this bill becomes law.

Section 406 of the Older Americans Act of 2006 contains language promoting Civic Engagement, Lifelong Learning and Intergenerational Activity for Baby Boomers.

The federal government also provides grants and contracts for organizations that actively promote opportunities and support for Civic engagement and Multigenerational activities.

I am hoping that the outcomes of this bill will create a multi-faceted approach that can be implemented to better understand what exactly we need to do in order to be prepared for this massive shift in our demographics. It will also mitigate potential pressures on our State resources by creating the opportunity for further growth and allow the State to study and determine the best course of action from a policy perspective.

I believe this bill provides a bold vision and action plan for this particular generation that has not adequately been addressed until now.


Annapolis Wants to Keep Md. Baby Boomers Active

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