Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Beach Safety Bill Passes Senate

Today I distributed the following press release regarding “Caleigh’s Bill”, which was passed to be engrossed during yesterday’s formal Senate Session:

Tarr Beach Safety Bill Passes Senate
Bill Seeks to Honor the Memory of 2-year-old Caleigh Harrison

BOSTON – Yesterday the Massachusetts State Senate took a major step forward by unanimously engrossing a bill sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) that seeks to create a color-coded flag warning system to promote safety at the state’s public beaches.  Senate Bill 2247, also known as “Caleigh’s Bill”, was crafted due to the tragic case of Gloucester 2-year-old Caleigh Harrison, who was last seen on Rockport’s Long Beach on April 19, 2012 and is believed to have been swept out to sea.

            “Caleigh’s Bill provides a great public safety and awareness tool for the public beaches across the Commonwealth,” said Senator Tarr.  “This bill honors Caleigh, and through this measure, there will be greater consciousness of the dangers that the ocean presents, and that will ultimately save lives.”

In an effort to promote beach safety, Senate Bill 2247, An Act creating uniform beach warnings, would:

·         Require the Department of Conservation and Recreation to develop a uniform warning and safety flag program to be used at all public beaches maintained by DCR, by providing a uniform size, shape, color, and definition for each warning and safety flag; and

·         Allow a municipality to adopt the uniform flag warning and safety program by requiring a vote by a city council, town council, or town meeting.

            “Caleigh’s Bill”, which is also supported by Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester), was first developed by Caleigh’s uncle, David Harrison, Jr., who was on a business trip to Panama last year when he learned about the country’s color-coded flag system which is used to warn the public about the dangers of tides and riptides.  Alabama, Florida, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Texas and several other states utilize a similar program, and the Harrison family is seeking to implement the same safety measures in Massachusetts.

“My family and I are pleased to hear of the news that Caleigh’s bill has now passed the Senate and is in the final stages of becoming a reality! Our vision of helping to prevent other tragedies like the one that we live through every day seems to be very close to happening! We would like to thank Sen. Bruce Tarr along with Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante for their hard work in making all of this possible,” said David Harrison, Jr.
            The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.