Nofs introduces bill to protect seniors

LANSING — State Sen. Mike Nofs introduced legislation Wednesday to help protect Michigan’s seniors, stop elder abuse and prosecute offenders. Nofs participated in an unveiling of the 16-bill package with lawmakers and advocates on Older Michiganians Day at the state Capitol.

“As a state police trooper, I saw the tremendous impact of abuse, neglect and exploitation on our seniors,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “Often elder abuse cases go unreported or unpunished, because many seniors are too intimidated – or even embarrassed – to come forward or testify. My bill would help solve this problem by enabling victims to testify in court without fear of being physically confronted by their abusers.”

Nofs’ measure, Senate Bill 454, would allow victims of alleged vulnerable adult abuse to give testimony via closed circuit television or a pre-recorded video. For constitutional reasons, this would be limited to criminal cases where circumstances meet those required by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Other items in the package, Senate Bills 455-468 would:

  • Improve coordination between state and local authorities;
  • Create a senior medical alert for missing seniors, similar to an Amber Alert;
  • Increase penalties for financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult; and
  • Further protect those that are at risk of being exploited without placing an unmanageable burden on their guardians.

“It has been estimated that 80,000 Michigan seniors are physically, emotionally or financially victimized every year,” Nofs said. “With the baby boomer generation beginning to retire, it is more important than ever to address elder abuse.”

Senate Bills 454-468 have been referred to the Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services Committee for consideration.

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Editor’s Note: A photograph of Nofs announcing his legislation is available on the senator’s photowire at: www.senate.michigan.gov/senators/photowire.asp?District=19.