Caregiver registry supporters still optimistic about bill’s chances

State House News Service
Published: 8/6/2018 11:07:44 PM

BOSTON — After a bill to create a registry of caretakers found to have abused those in their care failed to pass during last week’s torrent of legislative action, advocates for people with disabilities are hoping their proposal will still be approved during informal sessions.

The Arc of Massachusetts said it was “one of those good days” when the Senate unanimously approved the bill in mid-July and struck an optimistic tone about the chances of the House also passing the bill this session.

The bill directs 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 prohibited from hiring or contracting with any caretaker who is named on the registry.

Although the House took no action on the bill as the deadline for formal legislative action came and went last week, the Arc’s director of government affairs Maura Sullivan said last week she thinks the bill was overshadowed at the deadline by other more significant pieces of legislation.

“We’re very hopeful that this bill will go right through in informal session ... we have a lot of support throughout the entire building,” she said Friday on Boston Herald Radio. “Bigger bills and big priorities had kind of taken over in those last few days. There is not a lot of controversy and we hope that the bill will just be able to go through in informals.”

The Legislature wields all the same power during lightly attended informal sessions, but because an objection from any single member can bring the action to a halt, it is typically only non-controversial items that advance during informals.

Sullivan said the Arc has “been on a mission to get this legislation through this session” because it would help prevent serial abusers who may not be criminally charged for their abuse from continuing to work with people with disabilities.

Sen. Michael Moore said he filed the bill after a constituent approached him to share the story of her son’s abuse at the hands of a caretaker. He agreed with Sullivan that the bill wasn’t sent to the governor’s desk last week because there was a lot going on.

“I’m hoping that that’s the reason, just the amount of workload we were trying to get through before the midnight deadline,” Moore said on Herald Radio.

He added, “I know the Arc and my office have been talking to the House and we were trying to make sure that whatever we were putting forth was something they were acceptable with so that when the Senate did adopt this it would have an easy path in the House.”

Moore said the Senate Ways and Means Committee made some changes to the bill that was reported out of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities late last year. He suggested the House Ways and Means Committee, which currently has custody of the bill, is making sure that it is on board with the changes.

“But there were no substantive changes made in the Senate, so I’m hoping they will continue to support this,” Moore said of the House.


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