OPINION: Baby Boomer Initiative Act Passes Legislature - Southern Maryland Headline News

OPINION: Baby Boomer Initiative Act Passes Legislature

By Maryland Senator Roy Dyson

During the 2007 General Assembly Session, I wrote to you about a bill I sponsored that would address the many issues our “Baby Boomer” generation will face as they grow older.

Baby Boomers are considered those born between 1946-1964. The first of those “boomers” will be collecting their first Social Security checks this year.

The reason I introduced Senate Bill 700 – The Baby Boomer Initiative Act—was because this generation will cause a major strain on our economy. I don’t say this in a negative way. It is simply the fact.

According to the well-respected writer Robert J. Samuelson, in 2007, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid make up for 44 percent of the $2.7 trillion federal budget. The Baby Boomer generation, of which I am a member, is 78 million people strong, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimates as of July 1, 2005.

My bill, which unanimously passed both houses of the legislature and only awaits Governor O’Malley’s signature to become law, addresses this issue in a positive light.

It establishes a Baby Boomer Initiative Council which consists of representatives of State government and appointed members of the business, education and aging communities. The chair is to be designated by Governor O’Malley.

The key word here is “initiative.” I can understand why many Baby Boomers, having served in the workplace admirably may want to retire in the traditional way. They’re tired of work and want to retire to the golf course, travel the United States or the world or just take some good old fashioned time off for themselves.

However, far too many, retirement is an oppressive word and they want to give back to their community. They don’t just want to sit around the house. They want to take the initiative to stay actively involved in their community.

The Baby Boomer Initiative Council’s charges include:

1) Developing recommendations for addressing the needs of the baby boomer population.

2) Making recommendations for using baby boomers as a source of social capital.

3) Making recommendations to the Maryland Department of Aging on outreach to business, nonprofit organizations and State agencies.

4) Studying and documenting health benefits derived from baby boomers’ active engagement in intergenerational civic activities.

These civic activities include volunteerism such as driving for Meals for Wheels, mentoring school children, helping out at hospitals, veterans’ homes, nursing centers, senior centers or numerous other endeavors. The savings to local and state governments – who would have to provide these services if not for the volunteers—can be enormous.

I am pleased that the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University are heavily involved in the work of this Council. These two outstanding institutions have shown an overwhelming enthusiasm for this bill.

And I was especially happy to receive an e-mail from a constituent the other day supportive of this bill. A retiree and war hero, my constituent asked to be involved on this council and help out with veterans issues. This is the type of response I encourage and hope to receive more of as the Council’s work begins. This is good government at its best.

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