Senator Mark Norris
9A Legislative Plaza,
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0232
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©2017 Mark Norris
Senate moves to protect elderly and vulnerable adults from financial exploitation
Two major bills to protect elderly and vulnerable adults from financial exploitation are headed to the Senate floor for a final vote after being approved in Senate committees this week. Senate Bill 1192, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga), and Senate Bill 1267, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), gives securities officials and financial institutions the tools they need to help detect and prevent financial exploitation of those age 65 and older and vulnerable adults with diminished capacity.
“Roughly one in five seniors has been a victim of financial exploitation at a cost of approximately $2.9 billion annually,” said Senator Gardenhire. “Moreover, these numbers are likely low as it is also estimated that only one out of every 44 instances of financial abuse is actually reported.”
Called the Senior Financial Protection and Securities Modernization Act, Senate Bill 1192:
It has been estimated that 41.4 percent of the offenses of financial exploitation were committed by a family member and another 13.3 percent of victims were described by law enforcement as having close relationships with the perpetrator.
Likewise, Senate Bill 1267 adds tools and greater flexibility as to how financial institutions can best protect their customers when they have reason to suspect financial exploitation of elderly or vulnerable adults is occurring or being attempted. The legislation:
“Bankers are often on the frontlines of witnessing attempted exploitation and these tools will give them greater flexibility to protect vulnerable Tennesseans,” said Sen. Norris.
The proposals build on a new law, sponsored by Norris and passed by the General Assembly last year, which set up Vulnerable Adult Protective Investigative Teams (VAPIT) in each judicial district in Tennessee to foster cooperation and information sharing between different government agencies whose purpose is to protect elderly and vulnerable adults.
Broadband – The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act to expand broadband services in Tennessee received final Senate approval this week. Senate Bill 1215 calls for a three-year investment of $45 million in grants and tax credits that focus on the state’s unserved areas. This includes a $30 million “Broadband Accessibility Grant Program” and $15 million in tax credits to private service providers based on the purchase of broadband equipment used to provide access in the most economically challenged counties. On deregulation, the proposal permits the state’s private, nonprofit electric co-operatives to provide broadband and cable video services. The co-ops are currently restricted from providing retail broadband services. To protect co-op ratepayers, the legislation prevents the use of electric system assets to subsidize broadband services. Tennessee currently ranks 29th in the U.S. for broadband access, with 13 percent of the state lacking accessibility. The bill is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell (R-Riceville).
STRONG ACT – The full Senate approved the STRONG (Support, Training, and Renewing Opportunity for National Guardsmen) Act on final consideration on Monday. Senate Bill 1216 creates a pilot program to provide eligible members of the Tennessee National Guard funding toward a first time bachelor’s degree through a tuition reimbursement program. All but four states nationwide, and all states adjacent to Tennessee, already offer 100% state tuition assistance for those who are serving in the Guard. The bill is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville).
Juvenile Justice Reform – The full Senate approved one in a series of bills addressing juvenile justice reform this week. Senate Bill 1243 lowers the age of eligibility for expungement of non-violent offenders from 18 to 17 in order to allow adolescents the ability to start the process sooner. Through this legislation these children would be prepared to enter post-secondary education and the workforce with a clean record. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville).