A bill meant to help those with developmental disabilities would allow government agencies to locate people with tracking devices, which has some concerned the measure gives the federal government too much authority and power.
Rep. Chris Smith (R., N.J.), who chairs the Congressional Autism Caucus and the Alzheimer’s Disease Task Force, introduced a bill called Kevin and Avonte’s Law, otherwise known as H.R. 4919, in an attempt to prevent these types of accidents from happening.
The legislation would permit the Justice Department to award grants to law enforcement agencies and non-profits for training and tracking devices to find individuals with autism or seniors with Alzheimer’s who have wandered away.
“We all empathize with a parent who learns that their child is missing, including and especially when that child has autism or another developmental disability,” Smith said. “When children with a disability or seniors with Alzheimer’s do wander, time and training are essential to ensure their safe return.”
The bill would reauthorize the Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program for five years and annually fund it for $2 million. The program would be expanded to include children with autism and renamed as the Missing Americans Alert Program.
The bill has garnered the support of Democrats who say it would promote public safety and address the critical need of being able to locate these individuals.
However, some are concerned the measure goes too far. The bill’s original language authorized the Attorney General to insert tracking chips into individuals involuntarily.
“It is almost too absurd to believe that it is true, but the House Judiciary Committee is considering H.R. 4919 that would allow for the Attorney General to authorize tracking chips to be inserted involuntarily into people who are incapacitated with Alzheimer’s and other fatal dementias,” said Rick Manning, the president of Americans for Limited Government, at the time.