Norris News – April 7, 2017

On April 7, 2017, in News from Nashville 2017, by 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 […]

 Lt. Governor Randy McNally & Senator Norris at Mule Day in Columbia

Lt. Governor Randy McNally & Senator Norris at Mule Day in Columbia

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:

  • Provides a pathway for voluntary reporting by giving civil and administrative immunity to broker-dealers, investment advisers, agents, representatives and other qualified individuals for reporting the suspected abuse or exploitation;
  • Allows those individuals to delay disbursements from an account for up to 15 days if financial abuse or exploitation is suspected (that delay could be extended to up to 25 days upon request by the commissioner and by court order);
  • Grants the Commissioner of Commerce and Insurance authority to create additional guidelines by rule for delayed-disbursement when fraudulent activities are suspected;
  • Authorizes notification to third parties previously designated by the elderly or vulnerable adult regarding any suspected fraudulent transactions; and,
  • Gives the Commissioner authority, under the state’s Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, to double current civil penalties to up to $10,000 to $20,000 per violation against offenders who victimize a vulnerable or senior adult.

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:

  • Provides new authority for financial institutions to delay or refuse to conduct transactions which permit the disbursement of funds from the account of an elderly customer or vulnerable adult when exploitation is suspected;
  • Permits, but doesn’t require, the financial institution to establish a list of persons the customer would like to have contacted if the institution suspects the customer is a victim of financial exploitation or theft;
  • Allows financial institutions to refuse to accept an authorized power of attorney if they believe the person is conducting financial exploitation; and,
  • Requires the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions to consult with financial service providers, the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, and the Department of Human Services to develop a public education campaign to alert the public to the dangers of vulnerable adults from financial exploitation.

“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.

“Republican Ladies Day on the Hill” Rhonda Qualls Newman (l) and Connie Cromwell (r)

“Republican Ladies Day on the Hill” Rhonda Qualls Newman (l) and Connie Cromwell (r)

In Brief

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).

Adjutant General, Tennessee National Guard, Max Haston, joined Chris and me at the Capitol for passage of SB1216, the STRONG Act (Support, Training, and Renewing Opportunity for National Guardsmen) which I am sponsoring to provide last dollar tuition reimbursement to our military service men and women for first time associate's or bachelor's degrees.

Adjutant General, Tennessee National Guard, Max Haston, joined Chris and me at the Capitol for passage of SB1216, the STRONG Act (Support, Training, and Renewing Opportunity for National Guardsmen) which I am sponsoring to provide last dollar tuition reimbursement to our military service men and women for first time associate’s or bachelor’s degrees.

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).

Doughboys at War Memorial Plaza for the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War 1, The Great War, with Senator Norris & Senator Ed Jackson

Doughboys at War Memorial Plaza for the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War 1, The Great War, with Senator Norris & Senator Ed Jackson