Electronic monitoring legislation moves to the floor

Bipartisan legislation on electronic monitoring, otherwise known as granny cams, made it to its third committee stop this session in the Judiciary Committee. Lawmakers and advocates have been working for several years to make sure monitoring can be used in nursing homes and assisted living facilities to keep seniors safe and ensure quality care. The committee discussed whether the proposal adequately balances safety and privacy, as well what happens if a device captures evidence of abuse.

Electronic monitoring is allowed under current Minnesota law, but some facilities have been prohibiting residents and families from installing cameras. Although there is broad agreement that the ability to monitor the health and safety of loved ones is a right, legislation is necessary to clarify the law and provide protections for families that fear a facility may retaliate against them for asserting this right.

A controversial electronic monitoring proposal was included last session in a broader package of legislation to prevent elder abuse that was opposed by consumer advocates. That legislation was wrapped up in the 990-page supplemental budget bill and became a significant reason why Governor Dayton chose to veto the bill. Electronic monitoring is just one of several proposals aimed at protecting seniors that is expected to be taken up this session after the 2018 session ended without any meaningful reforms in long-term care.

The legislation this year came from an informal working group convened last fall that spent many hours deliberating the details of the proposal. A few final sticking points must be worked out, including whether there are any costs that have not been discussed and exactly how long seniors and families can have an active monitoring device without having to notify the facility. The bill currently requires facilities to be notified whenever someone installs a camera but creates an exception for up to 14 days if there is a fear that the facility might retaliate against someone if they find out about the camera. Consumer advocates are strongly backing a 30-day exception in order to give families enough time to capture evidence of suspected abuse and seek outside resources and assistance.

The proposal passed and was referred to the Senate Floor. (SF 11)