Legislation supporting Rhode Island's seniors signed into law
STATE HOUSE – Legislation introduced by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne, Rep. Joseph J. Solomon and Rep. Jason Knight that supports the state’s aging population was ceremoniously signed into law today by Gov. Dan McKee.
The first law (2021-S 0264A, 2021-H 5642A) requires financial institutions to report suspected financial exploitation of seniors to the Office of Healthy Aging.
“Financial exploitation is a serious and growing problem for the elderly,” said Senator Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence). “Many elderly people rely on caregivers to handle their financial matters, and unfortunately, some people abuse that trust. Banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions can be very helpful in preventing that abuse, because they are often able to identify suspicious activity in accounts. We should make sure we are taking full advantage of their tools, and making them our partner in protecting senior citizens from this type of abuse.”
“Abuse and exploitation of the elderly is a growing concern and one of the most egregious crimes committed in this state,” said Representative Solomon Solomon (D-Dist. 22, Warwick). “A recent study estimates that one in five older Americans are victims of financial exploitation, losing $3 billion annually. As our population ages, crimes of this nature will become more prevalent, and we need to do everything we can to protect our older citizens.”
The second law (2021-S 0103, 2021-H 6238) authorizes cities and towns to establish programs to offer tax credits to property owners age 60 or older in exchange for volunteer hours, allowing seniors to earn up to $1,500 off their property taxes.
“Many older property owners, particularly retirees, struggle under the burden of their property taxes. Allowing them to reduce their tax liability by volunteering for their city or town lets them use some of resources they have — time and skills — to lighten the load,” said Senator Coyne. “This is an idea that would benefit seniors and municipalities alike. Seniors are very dependable volunteers who have a lifetime of skills and experience to offer. In these days of tight municipal budgets, it could bring in some very valuable volunteers for cash-strapped towns.”
“Besides the obvious financial benefits for both seniors and the towns, this is an idea that can also strengthen our communities, creating new opportunities for town residents to meet and interact with their neighbors, and helping older residents maintain connections and form new ones in their neighborhood,” said Representative Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren).
The bill signing took place at the East Providence Senior Center.
For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903