COLUMBUS— State Rep. Daniel P. Troy (D-Willowick), working across the aisle in a joint effort with Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), provided sponsor testimony Tuesday before the House Criminal Justice Committee on HB 419, which aims to protect vulnerable older Ohioans from the increasing prevalence of abuse, neglect and exploitation by closing a loophole within Ohio's mandatory elder abuse reporting laws.
"Under current Ohio law, an individual who knowingly fails to report the abuse, neglect or exploitation of a senior citizen may be fined up to $500. However, as brought to my attention by the Lake County prosecutor's office, the law provides no guidance or direction for collecting any imposed fines," said Rep. Troy when addressing the committee members.
Troy's bill seeks to improve the current mandatory reporting laws by eliminating confusion and elevating the punishment for failing to report elder abuse to a misdemeanor of the fourth degree, thereby bringing it in line with penalties for failing to report child abuse.
According to Suzanne Casar, Director of the Lake County Department of Job and Family Services, the legislative changes in HB 419 are greatly needed.
"As the law stands right now, it is incredibly difficult to hold those who knowingly fail to report suspected elder abuse, neglect and exploitation accountable. The proposed changes to this legislation would implore those individuals who have an obligation to report suspected maltreatment to take this responsibility even more seriously and ultimately benefit Ohio's vulnerable seniors,” said Casar.
Troy concluded by stating the importance of protecting Ohio's vulnerable senior citizens and requested the bill be fast-tracked through the legislative process.
HB 419 awaits a second hearing in the House Criminal Justice Committee.