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Minnesota Legislature approves protections for the elderly

May 20, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A major package of protections for Minnesota’s elderly has cleared the Legislature and awaits Gov. Tim Walz’s signature.

The House and Senate passed the final version of the bill late Sunday night. The most important component is a framework for licensing assisted living facilities that contains expanded enforcement powers. Minnesota is the last remaining state that doesn’t require licensing them.

The bill also has other safeguards to protect older and vulnerable adults, including the right for assisted-living residents and their families to install hidden monitoring cameras for two weeks before being required to notify the facilities, a provision dubbed “granny cams.” It also includes a bill of rights for assisted-living residents and other stronger consumer protections, such as protections against retaliation for residents of care facilities.

“This is a bipartisan bill that gives elderly and vulnerable Minnesotans the consumer protections they deserve and brings Minnesota in line with the rest of the nation,” said Sen. Karin Housley, a Republican from St. Mary’s Point and one of the chief authors, who worked closely with Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and Democratic Rep. Jen Schultz of Duluth.

The legislation, which was over two years in the making, had its roots in a 2017 Minneapolis Star Tribune series on the problem of elder abuse and a blistering report that followed by the state’s legislative auditor. But it didn’t fully come together until about a week ago when state regulators and senior advocacy and elder care industry groups overcame their differences and agreed on a consensus package that both chambers could pass.

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