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September 30, 2004

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SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), chair of the Select Committee on Elder Abuse, announced that the Governor signed two of his three bills combating elder abuse.

“I’m pleased that the Governor recognized the need to protect seniors,” said Simitian, “but I think he lost a big opportunity to fight elder abuse on the front lines with the bill he vetoed.”

The first bill to be signed was AB 2791, which requires nursing staff at skilled nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities to be trained in recognizing and reporting resident rights violations. Signed just yesterday was AB 2611, which makes it easier to prosecute criminal cases of physical elder abuse by removing the requirement that prosecutors prove actual knowledge of a victim’s age; and substitutes instead the less burdensome “knew or should have known” standard used elsewhere in the code. The bill also helps elders more easily recoup fees and costs in elder financial abuse cases.

“These bills are important steps in curbing financial and physical abuse. They will help protect our seniors,” said Katie Zoglin, Deputy County Counsel for Santa Clara County.
The bill that was vetoed, AB 2783, would have given counties authority to establish a trust fund to fight elder real estate fraud through a nominal fee on real estate recordings.
The Governor’s veto message stated that he was “directing the Office of Emergency Services to develop recommendations that will serve our elderly community by enhancing coordination among law enforcement and governmental agencies in the areas of information-sharing, training, and crime prevention…. Therefore, this bill is premature at this time. The problems and potential solutions will be identified once the comprehensive review is completed.”

“While the Governor’s heart may be in the right place, I think the Administration’s reasoning is misguided,” said Simitian. “This bill empowered locals—who are on the front lines of elder abuse every day—to do what they do best: protect seniors from being financially abused.

“I hope next year, the Administration will see the need to do more for vulnerable seniors,” said Simitian. “I intend to follow up with additional legislation to help prevent elder abuse.”