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Senate Passes Elder Abuse, Renewable Fuels Bills

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DES MOINES The Iowa Senate voted Tuesday to bolster financial protections for vulnerable seniors and to extend and expand incentives to keep Iowa a leader in renewable energy.

Senators voted 48-0 to approve a uniform power of attorney act that is expected to provide a comprehensive, detailed description of the powers and responsibilities of persons granted powers of attorney -- a legal document that allows someone to make decisions on behalf of someone else.

Senate File 2168, which now goes to Gov. Terry Branstad for his consideration, would set standards and expand the number of people who can enforce those standards. Backers said the legislation addresses situations where an agent representing an older Iowan either fails to understand his or her responsibilities, misuses the power of attorney, or outright abuses the power of attorney.

"We need to update our law," Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, told his colleagues in urging them to support the changes made by the Iowa House to the bill they passed in February. "Iowa has a woefully under-developed law. We don't have many safeguards on it. It is an area of potential abuse."

The bill headed to the governor's desk would take effect July 1 but it would apply to all power of attorneys, even those issued before the legislation's effective date, Hogg said.

Multiple national studies have indicated that financial exploitation is the most common and under-reported type of elder abuse, with estimates that one of every six adults over age 64 has been a victim of financial abuse, according to AARP Iowa.

In other action Tuesday, senators passed and sent to the House a bill that seeks to strengthen and diversify Iowa's leadership position in the area of biofuels.

Senate File 2344 contained provisions to extend the tax credit for E-15 ethanol-blended fuel and cover crucial summer months, extend the bio-diesel production tax credit for five years to retain and attract biodiesel production to Iowa, and add an advanced biofuel biobutanol -- to Iowa's renewable fuels industry.

Before passing the measure, senators adopted an amendment offered by Sen. Jake Chapman, R-Adel, to extend three existing retail tax credits for renewable energy to Jan. 1, 2020. The credits were for bio-diesel blended fuel and promotion tax credits for E-85 and E-15 gasoline-ethanol blends.

"I think we've got a bill here we can be proud of, that we can be excited about, that will continue to maintain our leadership in renewable fuels," said Hogg, the bill's floor manager. "By encouraging new fuels that take advantage of Iowa's agricultural strengths, the Legislature is making investments that are paying off in good jobs, technological investment, and fighting climate change."

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