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State House committee plans to take action on elder abuse bills

Some lawmakers in Lansing say they have a plan to protect elderly people in the state. A bipartisan bill package (HB 4254-4260 and HB 4265) is expected to be voted out of a House committee this week.

The legislation is focused on protecting elderly and vulnerable adults from physical and financial abuse. Some bills would create new laws that would provide increased penalties for assaulting an elderly person.

State Representative Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) is a bill sponsor. She says people’s livelihoods and peace of mind are at stake.

“We have heard so many stories. I’ve heard personal stories of senior citizens being abused either financially or even physically across my district, across the state,” she says. “And so if we can put in some tougher laws that actually tackle that and address it, I think that we are able to really just protect more people in our state.”

Other bills would make it a crime to use or obtain an elderly person’s money or property through fraud or coercion, and make it a felony to restrain an elderly person through violence, fraud or deceit.

A state House committee heard testimony on the legislation last week.

Representative Kathy Crawford (R-Novi) is chair of the committee. She says the bill sponsors have been working on this legislation for a long time.

“As we get more elderly people, you know people are living longer, and sometimes with more chronic illness and everything, it becomes difficult for families sometimes to deal with situations like this.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has also started a task force aimed at curbing elder abuse.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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