Actually I was hoping for a little bit of notice; blaring trumpets, singing choirs, children throwing rose petals in the governor’s path as he proceeded to a very public signing of a new law that makes it illegal to file false complaints of elder abuse, and even better, to join in a conspiracy to file false complaints of elder abuse.
Well, we got the law but didn’t get the fanfare. And I don’t believe we even got the signature from Gov. Dannel Malloy.
What I got was a phone call from State Sen. Edith Prague D-Columbia who represents the 19th Senatorial District where I live, and therefore, where my mother lives, telling me the bill we refer to as Ella’s Law, after my mother M. Ella Winter, has become law. Sen. Prague, or Edith as I like to call her, befriended my mother a few years ago when Mom was locked in a series of legal battles with my out-of-state siblings and their spawn who wanted to institutionalize her.
Mom won the major legal battles, but then was subjected to a series of complaints that were initiated in New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, all falsely alleging that she was being abused in Connecticut because she wouldn’t call the people in those states who had tried to institutionalize her.
The complaints went on for more than a year and included other forms of harassment, but what they really accomplished was exposing a major weakness in Connecticut’s elder abuse system. So, late last year, after the elections, after Sen. Prague, Edith as I like to call her, was re-elected, she convened a task force to do some rewriting and new writing to fix the law.
The work was done, hearings were held, testimony was gathered, pros and cons were considered, and ultimately we have what now is referred to as Public Act 11-224. Remarkably, the law was opposed by then DSS Commissioner Michael Starkowski who testified before the Legislature’s Standing Committee on Aging last February that it would have a negative impact on medical personnel such as visiting nurses who are mandated by law to report suspected elder abuse.
That issue was easily resolved by the world “malicious” which made the bill far more palatable to potential detractors but what we finally got was a bill that says that falsely reporting elder abuse amounts to perjury, which can get you some big time in the big house, and that’s all right by me!
When she called me to tell me the news Sen. Prague said that even she wasn’t sure if the bill was signed by the governor, who probably forgot to let everyone know what was gong on with the new act, what with his fights with the Democrats and even with members of his own party over the budget and layoffs and all.
What? He’s a Democrat? Oh. Really?
Anyway, if a bill passes both houses of the legislature and then sits around for a month or so and no one stamps VETO on it, voila, it becomes law, Governor’s signature or no Governor’s signature. So as Sen. Prague informed me, time flew, we all had fun and now we have a public act.
So there. The act will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2011 and from then on we expect regular reports of overcrowded jails as scores of criminals and other low lifes attempt to rob the poor and stuff the pockets of the rich.
From now until then, should any cases of elder abuse through false complaints surface, we’ll just have to rely on good old-fashioned vigilantes.
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