Emmons leads Senate panel approval of senior protection package

LANSING — A Senate panel, led by Sen. Judy Emmons, has approved an 18-bill package of Senate reforms to help protect Michigan’s seniors, encourage increased reporting of elder abuse and strengthen penalties for those convicted of abusing a senior.

“This bipartisan legislation is about ensuring we do all we can to protect our most vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect and exploitation,” said Emmons, chair of the Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services Committee. “Tragically, an estimated 73,000 Michigan seniors and their families are impacted by these crimes each year. Their stories are heartbreaking, and I am proud to help lead the effort to protect our seniors.”

Emmons sponsored Senate Bill 459, which would create stricter penalties for more severe financial abuse. The bills also would further protect those who are at risk of being exploited without placing an unmanageable burden on their guardians.

“This comprehensive package includes many tools to stop elder abuse, including making the punishment fit the severity of the crime,” said Emmons, R-Sheridan. “My bill would crack down on financial exploitation of elder Michigan adults by increasing the penalties for fraudulently obtaining a senior’s signature.”

Other measures in the package that were approved by the committee would:

  • Improve coordination between state and local authorities;
  • Create a state model protocol for investigating vulnerable adult abuse cases;
  • Enhance banking, annuity and insurance protections for seniors;
  • Establish reporting requirements for suspected or knowledge of abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities;
  • Create a senior medical alert for missing seniors, similar to an Amber Alert; and
  • Allow victims of alleged vulnerable adult abuse to give testimony via closed circuit television or a pre-recorded video.

Senate Bills 454-457, 459-468, 604-605, 706 and 777 now head to the full Senate for consideration.