SACRAMENTO, Calif. – An amended version of California’s proposed Elder Abuse Bill was heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee May 16. If passed, the bill would add all financial institution employees to the list of mandated reporters required to report suspected financial abuse to local authorities. While the results of that hearing were not available at press time, Credit Union Times did obtain a copy of the amended version of the proposed bill. Although the California Credit Union League, banking groups and industry lobbyists are pressuring lawmakers to eliminate mandated reporter status for their employees from the bill, the designation is still included in the proposed legislation. The misdemeanor offense imposed on the mandated reporter for failure to report suspected abuse was eliminated. However, failure to report abuse would not be penalty-free as currently written. Instead, the mandated reporter would be liable for a civil penalty, although potential fines could not exceed $1,000. If failure to report suspected abuse results in bodily injury or death of the abused, a civil penalty of up to $5,000 will be imposed, and the financial institution employing the mandated reporter would be responsible for paying the fine to the party bringing action. Immunity is still granted by the state to mandated reporters if reported abuse, which is later determined to have not occurred, results in action being brought by the accused. However, the amended version of the bill removes mandated reporters from the list of those eligible to claim reimbursement from the state for legal fees incurred in the reporter’s defense. An additional change of note adds dependent adults to those protected under the bill.

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