Although a bill to establish a state registry for caretakers found to have abused those in their charge failed to garner enough support before the July 31 deadline, supporters of the legislation still hold out hope it could be approved during the lawmakers' informal session.
According to the State House News Service, the measure would direct the Disabled Persons Protection Commission to maintain the "Massachusetts Registry of Abusers of Persons with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities" and add to the list any care provider against whom the commission substantiates a claim of abuse.
The Department of Developmental Services and employers would be required to check the registry before hiring or contracting with an employee and be prohibited from hiring or contracting with any caretaker who is named on the registry.
The Senate unanimously passed its version of the bill in mid-July, but the House ran out of time before it could reach a consensus.
Maura Sullivan, director of government affairs for the Arc of Massachusetts, which operates on behalf of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, believes the bill was overshadowed at the deadline by other more significant pieces of legislation.
Sen. Michael Moore, who filed the Senate bill, suspects the House Ways and Means Committee is simply making sure that body agrees with the changes made in the final Senate product.
The Legislature exercises the same authority to pass bills during lightly attended informal sessions, but because an objection from a single member can derail any initiative, only legislation that has the unanimous backing of both branches has a chance to advance.
We don't see any reason why this measure should be held up any longer. It's been debated and dissected for more than a year, since state Rep. Linda Dean Campbell proposed creating a state Disability Abuse Registry back in April of 2017. Unfortunately, the Methuen Democrat's measure never made it out of committee.
Protecting our most vulnerable individuals from abuse should be one of our top priorities.
Protecting younger people with physical and cognitive disabilities, as well as those who contract these conditions due to advancing age, from the mental and physical abuse of unscrupulous caretakers would surely be enhanced by a system that could identify those who have previously taken advantage of their controlling position.