Nofs’ senior protection bill passed by Senate

LANSING —The state Senate has unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Mike Nofs to help protect Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens. Senate Bill 454 is part of an 18-bill package designed to help protect Michigan’s seniors, stop elder abuse and prosecute offenders.

“During my 30 years in law enforcement, I saw firsthand 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 victims feel intimidated or embarrassed to come forward or testify. My bill will help enable these seniors to testify about their case without fear of being physically confronted by their abusers.”

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

“For too long the system has failed our most vulnerable adults who have suffered, often in silence, from the torment of physical and financial abuses,” said Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, a lead sponsor of the package. “This senior protection legislation aims to put a spotlight on these criminal acts and bring their perpetrators to justice.”

The Senate-approved package would further protect those who are at risk of being exploited without placing an unmanageable burden on their guardians. Other measures include:

  • Improving coordination between state and local authorities;
  • Enhancing banking, annuity and insurance protections for seniors;
  • Establishing reporting requirements for suspected abuse and neglect or knowledge of abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities; and
  • Creating a senior medical alert for missing seniors, similar to an Amber Alert.

Senate Bills 454-457, 459-468, 604-605, 706 and 777 have been sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.