OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline) — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson recently announced that his bipartisan legislation designed to fight the financial exploitation and neglect of vulnerable adults in the state was advanced by the House of Representatives in a 92-4 vote. The bill next goes to the state Senate.
“These are our mothers and fathers, our grandparents, our elders,” Ferguson said. “We have a responsibility to protect them, and this legislation bolsters our ability to punish those who mistreat vulnerable adults. I am pleased an overwhelming bipartisan majority of the House agrees.”
Ferguson introduced the legislation after Adult Protective Services received more than 7,800 complaints of financial exploitation and more than 4,500 neglect complaints in 2015. He is sponsoring the bill with Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland). A companion bill in the state Senate is sponsored by Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor). The bill proposes changes to current laws related to crimes against vulnerable adults, including changing the statute of limitations for theft from three years to six years. According to Ferguson, crimes against vulnerable adults can take years to uncover, so these crimes need a longer statute.
“This bill is a top priority for me because it will help ensure that vulnerable adults are receiving the basic necessities of life and that anyone who abuses a vulnerable adult is held accountable,” Goodman said.
“We must make the statutes fit these horrible crimes,” Bailey said. “By removing roadblocks in the law, we can give prosecutors the proper tools to go after those who take advantage of this vulnerable population.”