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Beach safety bill advances to Massachusetts Senate

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May 14, 2013

By Nick Katers

Massachusetts

BOSTON, Massachusetts: A bill proposing improved warning systems on Massachusetts beaches was approved by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.[1] The bill proposed by Senator Bruce Tarr (R) would allocate funds for a color-coded flag system at state beaches. The system run by the Department of Conservation and Recreation would warn beach-goers about adverse weather conditions and dangerous tides.[2] Senate Bill 409 advances to the Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means Committee for review.[3]

Members of the committee were influenced by the story of Caleigh Harrison, a two-year old girl who drowned off Long Beach in Rockport, Massachusetts on April 19, 2012. Members of the Harrison family were among witnesses who testified during a public hearing before committee members. Caleigh’s uncle, David Harrison, suggested a color-coded flag system based on a similar system he witnessed during a trip to Panama. “The compelling story told by Caleigh’s family moved legislators to action, and is making the difference in getting the bill passed,” Tarr said.[1]

If Senate Bill 409 is passed, Massachusetts would join New Hampshire and New Jersey as the only states in the Northeast with flag systems on public beaches.[2] Flag systems are currently used by Alabama, Florida and Texas due to strong tides in the Gulf of Mexico.[1]

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