Legislation that would give financial advisers civil liability protection when reporting suspected financial abuse of seniors advanced in the Senate on Tuesday.
The Senior Safe Act was approved by the Senate Banking Committee as part of a larger bill that would reform regulation of credit unions, community banks and small regional banks. The Senate action follows approval of a companion elder-abuse bill by the House Financial Services Committee in October.
Last year, the full Senate failed to approve the bill because of one senator's objections. The legislation had to be re-introduced in both the House and Senate this year. Its fate could depend on the success of the banking regulation bill: the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act. The measure garnered a bipartisan vote in the Banking Committee and could reach the Senate floor early next year. It's not clear what kind of support it would have in the House.
"I am pleased that the Banking Committee approved our common-sense plan, based on Maine's innovative Senior$afe program, which will empower and encourage our financial service representatives to identify warning signs of common scams and help stop financial fraud targeting our seniors," the bill's co-author, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Me., said in a statement.
While the federal legislation makes its way through Congress, individual states are passing their own elder financial abuse laws, and a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. rule will go into effect in February.