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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Silver Alert gets Senate sponsor

25

September

U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., has introduced a Senate version House-passed bill aimed at finding missing seniors. The House version, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, had the support of the entire Florida delegation and passed by voice vote last week.

It directs the U.S. Department of Justice to design a program that will give states grants for Silver Alert systems, akin to the Amber Alert, that will help local law enforcement agencies and the public find seniors who wander off.

Martinez's version is slightly different, but could be reconciled with the House version if it passes. He filed the measure with Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., a fellow member of the Special Committee on Aging.

"Every year thousands of adults go missing due to illness, diminished mental capacity or foul play," Martinez said in a statement. "This kind of coordinated alert system has had proven success with locating missing children. Expanding it to include adults and seniors will give families and local law enforcement agencies access to the resources and expertise necessary to undertake more comprehensive search efforts for a missing adult."

Bilirakis' bill was inspired by the death of Mary Zelter, a Largo woman who was found drowned in the Intracoastal Waterway a week after she left her assisted living facility.

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[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 9:50am]

    

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