CARSON CITY -- Advocates for elderly Nevadans had some successes with proposals considered by the 2009 Legislature, but saw others shelved by lawmakers or vetoed by Gov. Jim Gibbons.
Among those that did make it into law was Senate Bill 314, which erases limited power-of-attorney laws and replaces them with a much broader act proposed by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. The power-of-attorney measure is aimed at protecting Nevada seniors from abuses by caregivers and, in some cases, their own children.
Lora Myles of the RSVP CARE Law Program, which assists seniors, called the passage and approval of the measure "a major accomplishment."
"Before SB314, Nevada was rated as one of the worst states in the union as far power of attorney legislation, Myles said. "Now, we have precise, wonderful protections for seniors and anyone who executes a power of attorney."
Key provisions of the uniform law include a clear statement of duties for an elderly person's representative, and stringent standards for selling property or altering an estate plan.
Senate Bill 313, another approved bill, revises Nevada's laws on guardianships, in line with suggestions from the uniform law commission, the National Guardianship Association and Nevada Guardianship Association.
Myles said the measure addresses interstate jurisdiction over guardianships, and referred to it as "the granny kidnapping law" because it applies in cases such as seniors being taken across state borders.
Under the measure, guardianship jurisdiction exists where the ward, the person protected by the guardianship, originally resides, or where most of the ward's assets are, Myles said. She added that the law helps to prevent financial exploitation of seniors.
Gibbons' veto of two bills that affect seniors in some ways interferes with the ability to protect their financial resources, an attorney who represents senior citizens said.
Ernie Nielsen of the Washoe County Senior Law Project said he disagreed with Gibbons' veto of Assembly Bill 491. The measure would have dealt with automatic garnishment of federally protected income such as Social Security.
Nielsen also took issue with Gibbons' veto of Assembly Bill 22, which would have added language protecting seniors or others with disabilities from being taken advantage of in business or commercial settings. The measure deals with civil and criminal penalties for deceptive trade practices.
Measures regarding seniors that failed to pass muster with lawmakers include Senate Bill 290, a plan that would have allowed for the installation of surveillance devices in rooms at patient care facilities; and Assembly Bill 4 that would have created a 'silver alert' system that would help locate missing seniors.
Assemblywoman Kathy McClain, D-Las Vegas, an advocate for seniors, said she's pleased that Gibbons signed Assembly Bill 9, which creates an interim statutory committee on seniors, veterans and adults with special needs.
McClain also is glad that Gibbons signed Assembly Bill 461, a bill she sponsored which gives the attorney general's office the ability to create a multidisciplinary team to probe and prosecute elder abuse cases.