As we continue to take on important issues in the Ohio House, an issue that we are revisiting this General Assembly is elder abuse in Ohio. My colleagues Representative Mike Dovilla (R-Berea) and Representative Wes Retherford (R-Hamilton) sponsored House Bill 24, known as the “Ohio Elder Justice Act”, which would strengthen the laws protecting elders from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

This bill takes many steps towards protecting elders. In the past, protecting our vulnerable citizens was more straightforward. In the modern era, it can be much more complex. According to a 2011 study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, the estimated annual financial loss from senior financial abuse was $2.9 billion. We must do our part to fight back against this growing problem and be a voice for those in need of help.

HB 24 would reformat the way in which the Department of Job and Family Services handles elder abuse in Ohio. The bill modifies the list of people required to report instances or suspicion of abuse, and authorizes the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to establish a registry of reported abuse or neglect. It also allows waiver of the usual 24-hour notice to an adult’s closest relative and guardian when the delay will cause immediate harm to an elder.

The Ohio Elder Justice Act would also establish the Elder Abuse Commission which will recommend strategies for combating elder abuse. The commission will issue a report every two years to help local communities also fight this issue. This proactive approach is a step in the right direction to protecting our elder Ohioans physically, emotionally and financially.

HB 24 passed in the Ohio House in March. The House Judiciary Committee heard hours of testimony demonstrating the need for this legislation. It is currently being evaluated in the Ohio Senate. I hope to see its quick passage so that we can get to work on this critical issue and protect these citizens from abuse.

I hope you’ll consider contacting my office and sharing your thoughts and feelings on this legislation with us. As with all state government related issues, I hope we can work together so that I can best represent you in the Ohio House.

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