Senate Bill #2168 (“S.2168”): An act updating terminology and investigative practices related to the protection of persons with a disability. S.2168 amends the DPPC’s enabling statute, M.G.L. c. 19C, in the following manner:
- Utilizes “person first” language which recognizes the individual first, rather than the disability. S.2168 amends Chapter 19C to replace all uses of the term “disabled person(s)” with the term “person(s) with a disability.” S.2168 also changes the name of the “Disabled Persons Protection Commission” to the “Commission for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities,” in Chapter 19C and elsewhere in the General Laws.
- Codifies the referral process of reports of alleged abuse to agencies in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services for the provision of protective services in situations in which there is an imminent risk of serious injury to the person with a disability. This amendment is consistent with the DPPC’s current structure and practice in addressing situations where imminent risk to the individual exists.
- Adds firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians to the list of individuals who are considered mandated reporters of suspected abuse.
- Updates the definition of “state agency” in Chapter 19C to include private agencies licensed by the Commonwealth, in addition to private agencies that provide services or treatment to persons with a disability pursuant to a contract or agreement with an agency of the Commonwealth.
- Codifies the protections for the DPPC’s records, which contain privileged and confidential information including medical and clinical information about alleged victims of abuse, to be consistent with a 1997 Opinion of the Supervisor of Public Records holding that certain records held by the DPPC are not considered “public records.”
Senate Bill #105 (“S.105”): An act protecting persons with disabilities from financial exploitation. S.105 amends the DPPC’s enabling statute in the following manner:
- Seeks to extend the jurisdiction of the DPPC to include the investigation of financial exploitation of individuals with a disability by their caretakers. Currently, the DPPC is authorized to conduct investigations involving allegations of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, and neglect, of persons with disabilities. However, unlike other Adult Protective Service agencies across the United States, and unlike the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Elder Affairs, the DPPC does not have jurisdiction to investigate financial exploitation of persons with disabilities.
- The DPPC supports S.105 in extending the DPPC’s jurisdiction to include investigation of financial exploitation of persons with a disability by their caregivers. However, given the fiscal impact on the DPPC anticipated by this proposed statutory requirement, the DPPC’s support is conditioned upon the DPPC receiving the additional funding and staffing necessary to effectively implement this legislation.