KET Legislative Coverage

Day 31: Protecting the Vulnerable from Abuse

by Renee Shaw | 02/21/14 1:44 PM

At a bipartisan, bicameral press conference yesterday, Gov. Steve Beshear promoted legislation to create a background-check system for those seeking employment as caregivers. Beshear said government is morally obligated to protect vulnerable citizens, including the disabled and the elderly.

Two bills before the General Assembly would create a web-based adult abuse registry to be maintained and operated by the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo (D-Lexington) is the sponsor of House Bill 256. This is the fourth session in which she's championed the idea of an adult abuse registry. At yesterday's press briefing, Palumbo spoke of how the matter hit close to home for her.

The companion measure, Senate Bill 98, is sponsored by Sen. Sara Beth Gregory (R-Monticello). She said employers currently have no way to protect themselves from the liability of hiring someone with a history of adult abuse. Although criminal convictions for adult abuse are rare, Gregory's SB 98 does offer due process protections for those accused of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

On the Senate floor Thursday, Gregory recounted the horrifying story of a developmentally disabled woman who testified earlier this month about the abuse she suffered at the hands of a care facility employee.

Gregory's adult protection registry cleared the Senate, 36-0. It now travels to the House where Rep. Palumbo's measure is scheduled for a House hearing next Thursday.

Watch Legislative Update tonight at 11:30 p.m. on KET. Follow @ReneeKET on Twitter for updates throughout the day.