State House Democrats unveil senior citizen abuse legislation

EAST LANSING, MI – State lawmakers unveiled a plan Monday designed to make punishments for exploiting or abusing senior citizens much tougher.

Activists say elderly people are usually preyed on by their own family members - often being left to live in squalor while their bank accounts are drained and medications stolen.

The legislation introduced by state House Democrats would set the felony sentence for that kind of exploitation to 15 years, rather than the current 4 years. But similar legislation failed to pass through the Republican-controlled Senate last year.

State Representative Mark Meadows says that's partly because the banking industry didn't want to get involved in family disputes on joint accounts, and didn't support the bills. "They didn't want their tellers to have to report abuse," he says. "We worked that out, actually, in the committee. And the bills that were reported on the House floor were supported by the banking industry."

Meadows says he thinks the legislation will pass this time around.