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February 13, 2009
Attorney General’s vulnerable adult bill scheduled for a public hearing Tuesday

OLYMPIA — A bill requested by Attorney General Rob McKenna that would add new protections for vulnerable adults is scheduled for a public hearing on Tuesday.

The Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee has scheduled a public hearing on SB 5639 on Tuesday, Feb. 17 at 1:30 pm in the J.A. Cherberg Building, Senate Hearing Room 1.

Experts suggest that only 1 in 5 — and possibly only 1 in 12 — abuse cases are ever reported. From 1986 to 1996, state and federal government data suggest that there has been a 150 percent increase in reports of elder abuse in domestic settings (National Center on Elder Abuse National Incidence Summary, September 1998).

In 2007, our state’s Adult Protective Services received more than 13,000 reported concerns about suspected abuse, neglect, self-neglect, financial exploitation and abandonment of vulnerable adults. 

If passed into law, the requested legislation will require employees of financial institutions to receive training to recognize and report financial exploitation, and strengthens their ability to “freeze” an account if thievery is suspected.

The bill also strengthens penalties for people who prey on vulnerable adults, and allows the public to have access to a database of information about those who have committed abuse.

The bill is prime-sponsored by Sen. James Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, co-sponsored by Sen. Dale Brandland, R-Bellingham, andothers. A companion bill, HB 1788 is sponsored by Rep. Al O’Brien, D-Mountlake Terrace, co-sponsored by Rep. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, and others.

More information on the Attorney General’s proposed legislative package is available online at


Janelle Guthrie, AGO Communications Director, (360) 586-0725


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