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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Assemblywoman Lois Wolk (D-Vacaville), voluntarily moved her elder financial abuse bill, AB 1605, to the Assembly’s “inactive” file late the week of May 30. Wolk’s bill was similar to SB1018, which passed in the state Senate last month, and requires financial institution employees to act as mandated reporters of suspected elder abuse. SB1018 was introduced by Sen. Joseph Simitian, (D-Palo Alto), and will next be reviewed by the Assembly’s Aging and Long Term Care Committee. Although the California Credit Union League, which opposes both bills, praised credit union leaders and members who voiced their opposition to AB1605 to legislators, those efforts reportedly did not pressure Assemblywoman Wolk into withdrawing the legislation. Craig Reynolds, Wolk’s Chief of Staff, said the bill was made inactive because the Senate version has gained momentum, and the sponsors of Wolk’s bill have instead decided to put their efforts behind the Senate bill. Far from dead, AB 1605 will be held in the Assembly as a back-up measure and will address any outstanding issues on the subject next year. Meanwhile, Reynolds had harsh words for credit union lobbyists who he said presented conflicting testimony regarding the potential effects of the bill. “In one committee, they testified that mandatory reporting in other states didn’t increase the number of reported cases at all, but in another committee they said it led to a flood of reports,” Reynolds said, “so they’re rapidly losing credibility.” Although he wouldn’t name names, Reynolds went on to say that one major California credit union has dropped its opposition to the bill, and he expects others to follow suit. The Chief of Staff also said he’s spoken to several credit union CEOs who don’t object to the bill in its current amended form. “We’ve removed the criminal sanctions and limited civil liability, so from the perspective of a credit union, their shareholders are protected, their employees are protected, and the credit union itself is protected,” Reynolds said. “Frankly, I’m puzzled as to why credit unions ever opposed it in the first place.” The California Credit Union League disagrees the bill limits civil liability, instead saying the bill has the potential to turn credit unions into “potential deep pockets.” Reynolds said he expects the banking lobby will continue to oppose the bill, because elder abuse is “a problem they’d rather just sweep under the rug.” Credit unions, in contrast, act in the best interest of their members, and Reynolds said he anticipates more credit unions will change their position to support the bill as momentum gains in the Assembly. -

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