(Williamsburg, IA) -- Governor Kim Reynolds signs the elder abuse bill, increasing the penalties for crimes against older Iowans.
"The bill that I will sign today establishes the crime of elder abuse and strengthens existing criminal penalties for dependent adult abuse, ranging from misdemeanors to felonies," says Governor Reynolds.
Senate File 522 defines an older individual as a person 60 years of age or older. The crimes that qualify as elder abuse are neglect, isolation, or the physical, emotional, or sexual exploitation of an older individual.
"Our state has seen a sharp increase in the abuse of dependent, older Iowans in recent years. Making those who abuse our elders criminally liable will better protect older Iowans," says State Senator Kevin Kinney.
Reynolds signed the bill at the Highland Ridge Senior Living Community in Williamsburg, where she also signed a proclamation recognizing June 15th as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
"Iowa families and seniors deserve to know that we will not stand for any type of elder abuse or exploitation in the state," says Reynolds.
AARP Iowa joined the governor at Highland Ridge, supporting the bill signing.
"We applaud the Iowa Legislature and Governor Reynolds for coming together in support of this critical legislation that will help protect vulnerable older Iowans from abuse," says AARP Iowa Advocacy Manager Anthony Carroll. "AARP Iowa has advocated for elder abuse legislation for several years, and we know this new law will be an important tool for helping put a stop to existing abuse and hopefully preventing it in the future."
The bill will become law on July 1st, 2022.