Today, it became clear that Nicky’s law, Senate 2606 would not pass the House of Representatives during the informal session. Bill sponsors informed The Arc that some legislators would oppose the bill on the floor given concerns generated regarding protections for employees by the Committee on Public Counsel Services (CPCS). It takes only one legislator to stop a bill during the informal session period which began in August.
Leo Sarkissian, The Arc’s Executive Director, noted, “I’m very disappointed that the CPCS threw doubt on the due protection measures of the bill at the 11th hour of this session. CPCS could have requested a meeting with bill proponents first but chose to work to kill the bill instead.”
Advocates of Nicky’s and Dana’s Law (similar bill) worked together to advance a Registry to house the names of employees who had committed acts of substantiated abuse which resulted in serious physical injury or serious emotional injury. Senate 2606, titled, “An Act to establish a registry of caretakers found to have substantiated abuse against persons with intellectual disability or developmental disability” had passed the Senate in July. (For more background on the bill, see thearcofmass.org/abuseregistry/)
Despite this temporary setback, The Arc and many stakeholders will work with bill sponsors for passage in the next session. Chair Kay Khan of Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities has prioritized this bill for action. A meeting is being discussed in January for proponents and those who opposed passage to review the present bill. The Speaker has conveyed his great interest in the bill.
The main purpose of the bill is to prevent those employees who have abused individuals with disabilities in their care to work with others with disabilities. At the present time, safeguards do not prevent an employee who has been determined to have abused a person by the state’s Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) to work at another setting.
The objections from CPCS were reviewed by The Arc along with the Disability Law Center (DLC). CPCS’s memo includes a number of inaccuracies. CPCS criticized a hearing statute which is not part of S. 2606 while not referencing the fair hearing provision for employees in the proposed bill. Employees who are determined to have abused people with disabilities will not be recorded in the registry until they exhaust their appeal rights which includes a fair hearing through the Division of Administrative Law Appeals (DALA).
Twenty-six (26) states manage an abuse registry according to the National Adult Protective Services Association or NAPSA. The NAPSA report noted: “Despite the diversity of APS abuse registries, the primary objective of an APS abuse registry is to prevent certain abusers from gaining access to vulnerable adults in the future. Through the creation and maintenance of an APS abuse registry, a secondary objective is holding perpetrators accountable for abusing vulnerable adults by preventing employment and/or stripping perpetrators of their licenses. In addition, the very nature of having an APS abuse registry may deter a potential perpetrator from abusing a vulnerable adult.”
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Director of Government Affairs