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BILL SETS LIMITS ON GUARDIAN POWERS

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When a person is unable to safely make decisions for him/herself, a guardian can be chosen to make decisions for that person.  Sometimes a guardian makes decisions about who is allowed to visit the person.  That's what has Senator Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids concerned.  Sen. Hogg said he has heard from people in his district that the law needs to be clearer, so the person has a say in who visits them.  For example, a sister was made the guardian of her younger brother.  She didn't like the older brother, and would not let him visit, even though the younger brother was at the end of his life and wanted to see him.  Sen. Hogg wants to make sure that there is a better balance to make sure the person's wishes are taken into consideration.

Senate Study Bill 1162 does this by stating that if a person wishes to have a visitor, the guardian is not able to restrict that visit. The Guardian can set reasonable time limits or decide on the place for those visits, and can also go to court to show good cause why the visit would not be in the best interest of their ward (the legal term for the person who has the guardian).  A three-person subcommittee met on this bill on February 12, and decided to amend it to make sure the process for doing this was clear.  The subcommittee - Sen. Rob Hogg, Sen. Wally Horn (also of Cedar Rapids) and Sen. Tom Shipley of Nodaway - will meet again to consider the amendment and decide whether to move it to the full Senate Judicary Committee before the March 6 deadline.  If the bill does not get out of Judiciary Committee before then, it will no longer be eligible for debate (it dies for the year).

If this is something that you care about, contact the members of the subcommittee and Senate Judiciary Committee and let them know what you think.  You can see a list here.