News release from Senate Republican Caucus
(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), May 16, 2016 – Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam today signed into law the “Campbell Falk Act” that for the first time in Tennessee establishes a ward’s right to visit and communicate with family and close friends. The new law is named in recognition of Country Music Legend Glen Campbell and renowned actor Peter Falk. Attending the governor’s signing at the Tennessee Capitol were country music artist Tanya Tucker; Glenn Campbell’s children, Debbie Campbell Cloyd, Travis Campbell and his wife Trudy; Peter Falk’s daughter Catherine Falk; Marcia Southwick with Boomers Against Elder Abuse; and Joseph Roubichek, with the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse (NASGA).
The legislation was sponsored by Senator Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) and Representative Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby).
“We are very pleased that this new law has been enacted,” said Senator Crowe, who credited the Campbell children, Falk, Tucker and the organization to stop abuse with helping to pass the bill. “We are seeing a growing number of cases of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other disabilities which call for a conservator to be appointed. This gets very difficult when there are strained family relationships between the conservator and the ward’s family members and it involves the decision that no communication should occur.”
A conservator is a legally appointed guardian of a disabled person. Previously, Tennessee law allowed a conservator to restrict visitation and communication with the ward without going to court, even when it involved communication or visits by a family member. The new law provides the ward has a right to visit, communicate or interact with family and loved ones and that a conservator shall not restrict it unless specifically authorized by a court order. It also provides a process by which the conservator can petition the court to place restrictions upon communication or interaction by showing good cause. Some of the factors the court can consider are previous protective orders, whether the ward expresses the wish to visit and past preferences.
“If this can happen to Glenn Campbell, it can happen to anyone,” said Trudy Campbell. “It is a civil right and certainly a God-given right to see your child and to receive mail from them. That is why Catherine Falk and I approached Senator Crowe and Representative Faison about passing this legislation with the support of Boomers against Elder Abuse and the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse (NASGA). We know that thousands of others are suffering from restrictive action by a ward and we are very pleased that Tennessee has passed this law to protect them.
“Some family situations are more difficult than others,” added Crowe. “It is heartbreaking to hear sons and daughters who cannot spend quality time with their parent after they are incapacitated and their health is in decline. We believe this new law strikes the right balance so that it protects the rights of some of our most vulnerable citizens, while at the same time giving the conservator a fair process to follow in protecting the ward.”
Note: The bill is SB2190. Big chunks of the press release above are incorporated into a Rolling Stones article on the event, HERE.