A House bill that seeks to increase the penalty for elder abuse that takes place in an adult care home reached the Senate’s Judiciary committee Thursday morning.

The lone speaker on the bill was Steve Karrer, a deputy attorney general at the Kansas Attorney General’s Office. Karrer, who also spoke during Tuesday’s hearing for the same bill, gave some clarity Thursday on why this bill should be passed. 

“It comes down to vulnerability,” Karrer said. “It’s that loss of choice [from developmental diseases] or independence that causes [elders] to become more vulnerable [to abuse].”

House bill 2153 will increase the criminal penalty for the mistreatment of a dependent adult or elder person that is a resident of an adult care home. The bill states that mistreatment of an elderly adult that results in physical injury, unreasonable confinement, or unreasonable punishment would now be a severity level two felony. The mistreatment of a dependent adult or elderly person that results in a taking of property or financial resources would be a severity level five felony.

“With elder and dependent adults who are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, oftentimes they are not able to understand they are a victim, let alone report it,” said Karrer. “It is that vulnerability that is behind this bill.”

Karrer mentioned the statistics behind the importance of passing the bill. 

“Elders that are 60 and over that are abused are 300% more likely to die within a six-month period of time than those who are not abused,” Karrer said. “That’s the mindset behind this bill and why we’re asking to increase the penalties.” 

HB 2153 was introduced into the House’s Judiciary committee on Jan. 27. The bill unanimously passed in the House with a 124-0 vote. Thursday was the second time the bill appeared in the Senate, with the first being at Tuesday's Judiciary meeting. The bill was pushed to be discussed at a later date.

Mitchell Osterlund is a University of Kansas senior from Tallahassee, FL., studying journalism

Logan Fricks is a University of Kansas senior from Salina, Kan., studying journalism