Assembly Passes Bills Addressing Safety of Seniors, Disabled

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In hopes of addressing concerns over the safety of seniors and the disabled who often become the target of abuse, the State Assembly has passed two bills proposed by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), one that could help keep the whereabouts of seniors who are the victims of abuse confidential, and another that would require background checks of those employed to provide transportation for the elderly and disabled in Los Angeles County.

Garcia proposed the bills, AB 849 and AB 971 after seeing “loopholes” in laws protecting the safety of seniors and the disabled, said Tim Reardon, her chief of staff.

He said the bills are meant to be “easy fixes” to real problems that impact the community but have not been addressed. The State Assembly unanimously passed both bills last month, but the Senate must also approve them before they can become law.

AB 849, “Keeping Seniors Safe,” will allow elderly and disabled victims of abuse to enroll in a confidentiality program that will help keep their home addresses hidden from their abusers. The “Paratransit” bill, AB 971, would give LA Paratransit; a Los Angeles County based transportation service for the elderly and disabled the authority to conduct background checks on its employees. Current law prohibits employers of this type from asking potential employees to disclose past criminal records or from investigating them on their own.

Garcia, whose district covers Artesia, Bell Gardens, Bellflower, Cerritos, Commerce, Downey, Montebello, Pico Rivera and Norwalk, said Access Service, an LA Paratransit provider, should have the right to conduct thorough background checks of its drivers before they are considered for employment. Read more here.