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Legislation Attempts To Protect Senior Citizens from Stalkers

This information comes from the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, MD, R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles, Lewis, Marshall, Maury and Williamson counties in the State Legislature.

Hensley continues his recap of legislation passed in the recent session of the State Legislature.

Protecting senior citizens from stalkers - This law expands aggravated stalking offenses to include anyone who stalks a person 65 years or older and is at least 15 years younger than the victim.

The change increases the punishment from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E felony, punishable by up to six years in prison and a $3,000 fine.

Deaf mentor and parent advisor program - This law will help improve communication among families with deaf young children.

It creates a deaf mentor and parent advisor program to assist families in implementing bilingual and bicultural home-based programming for young children who are deaf, hard of hearing or deaf-blind.

The program would be available at the West Tennessee School for the Deaf in Jackson and Tennessee Schools’ for the Deaf campuses in Knoxville and Nashville.

It will focus on preventing language deprivation or gaps through insufficient language access, providing a positive impact on a child’s social and emotional development, and ensuring equal access to learning opportunities at home and in the community.

Parent advisors will regularly visit homes of young children who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind to interact with children and their families using American Sign Language and spoken English and to help families understand how to provide accommodations and access to communication.

Protecting ABLE funds for people with disabilities – To protect funds in the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) program, a tax-free personal savings account for people with disabilities, the General Assembly passed a law prohibiting the state from seeking recovery of those funds to pay for medical bills on behalf of the designated beneficiary upon their death. The ABLE program gives people with disabilities and their loved ones the opportunity to save and invest in a tax-free savings account which helps the beneficiary maintain independence and improve quality of life by using funds to pay for living, educational, and medical expenses. This will help encourage those with disabilities and their loved ones to invest in the ABLE program, because they can trust the funds will be secure from outside intervention. Tennessee was one of the first two states to implement the ABLE program after the federal government. authorized it.

Protecting property owners from bad actors — This year, the General Assembly passed the Real Property Records Integrity Act which prevents service agreements, such as a real estate listing agreement, that can create a lien on a property from being filed with the Register of Deeds.

Bad actors can take advantage of citizens, especially elderly citizens, through real estate listing agreements that place a lien on properties and prevent the owner from selling the property.

The law provides civil penalties for anyone that violates provisions to prey upon vulnerable homeowners.

Increasing accountability for service animals – This law expands the penalty for misrepresentation of a service animal to include 100 hours of community service for an organization that assists individuals with disabilities.

It also subjects anyone who uses or trains a service dog to liability if the animal causes any damages.

This law will protect businesses when enforcing guidelines and holding those abusing the ADA accountable.

Furthermore, it offers more clarity to individuals with trained, legitimate service animals, specifically stating that misrepresentation of a service animal results in a Class B misdemeanor.

Defining “financial abuse” to protect older and vulnerable adults – To crack down on elder abuse, the General Assembly passed a law to establish a legal definition for financial abuse as behavior that is coercive, deceptive or that unreasonably controls or restrains a person’s ability to maintain economic resources to which they are entitled.

Older populations are at a significantly higher risk of becoming victims of financial abuse. The law is part of the General Assembly’s efforts over many years to crack down on elder abuse.

Disabled License plates - A law grants licensed physical therapists the same authority that a physician has to allow disabled persons to obtain disabled license plates and placards.

Silver Alert Awareness Month - Since the Silver Alert program was signed into law in 2021 to ensure the safe return home of those with dementia or an intellectual, developmental or physical disability, the General Assembly has designated May as Silver Alert Awareness Month.

This will help spread word about the program and aid the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in safely returning individuals to their families.

The program has had tremendous success and has safely returned 153 Tennesseans since June 2021.

Sen. Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville, TN. , 37243, by calling 615-741-3100, or calling toll free 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100 or faxing


His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN, 38462. His telephone number is 931-796-2018, his cell phone is 931-212-8823, or e-mail:

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