Bizzarro bill to combat elder abuse reported out of House committee

HARRISBURG, April 14 – State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, said the state House Judiciary Committee today approved his legislation designed to protect against elder abuse committed by people acting with power of attorney.

“I am grateful to my colleagues for recognizing the importance of this issue,” said Bizzarro regarding his H.B. 299, which he reintroduced in February. “With many of our older Pennsylvanians unfortunately facing dementia and other mentally debilitating diseases, it is important we have systems in place to help take care of them.”

Under Bizzarro’s legislation, the state’s Power of Attorney Acknowledgement would be amended to indicate that failure to comply with the document’s directives could result in criminal charges against the person with power of attorney. Bizzarro said too often, people with power of attorney steal from those they have been charged to protect, but later claim they did not know their actions were criminal. The bill would also allow the Office of Protective Services and local aging agencies to more easily obtain evidence related to financial transactions made on behalf of a mentally incapacitated person.

In addition, the Judiciary Committee amended the legislation to include a notice of the state Department of Aging’s elder abuse hotline to the person giving the power of attorney.

A similar bill introduced by Bizzarro last session passed the House 197-1.

“I am hopeful that my colleagues will work quickly to move this legislation this session,” Bizzarro said. “We owe it to our older friends, relatives and neighbors to make sure they are protected at a time when they may be unable to protect themselves.”