Politics & Government

Beshear backs bills to combat elder abuse

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear on Friday said he was supporting a package of elder abuse legislation currently pending before the House and Senate.

At a Friday news conference flanked by nearly a dozen legislators, Beshear said his administration supports a host of measures that he thinks will better protect adults and seniors from abuse and exploitation.

Some of those initiatives include House Bill 101 and Senate Bill 38, which would establish a registry of those who have been found to have abused or neglected an adult. State adult-protection workers can substantiate claims of abuse and neglect against an employee, but there is no central registry of such findings that employers can check.

Both HB 101 and SB 38 await full votes on the House and Senate floors.

Beshear said he would include the $1.2 million needed to fund the adult-abuse registry in his next budget request in 2012.

"A statewide registry is the best way to identify perpetrators when adult or elder abuse has been substantiated but doesn't reach a criminal level," Beshear said. "We have a similar list to keep our children safe at day care centers and schools."

Another key bill Beshear is throwing his political weight behind is House Bill 52, which would prohibit anyone accused of abuse or neglect of an elderly person from inheriting that person's estate.

Louisville Democrat Rep. Joni Jenkins, sponsor of HB 52, said she thinks the measure will become law this year. House Bill 52 has already passed the House.

The other bills Beshear supports include Senate Bill 44, which would require criminal background checks for all employees of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, not just those involved in direct care.

Beshear said he waited until Friday to announce the package of elder abuse initiatives because he wanted time to talk to House and Senate legislators.

Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, who wants Beshear's job, has accused Beshear of having no legislative agenda.