July | August 2017



Children's Water Safety Bill Signed Into Law

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick in July signed a bill intended to improve children’s water safety measures in the state. Senate Bill 2075, also known as “Christian’s Bill,” aims to decrease the risk of drowning for children at camps and recreational programs, The Boston Globe reported.
The legislation was named in honor of Christian Frechette, a 4-year-old who drowned in 2007 at summer camp while swimming in a lake without a life jacket. Drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 4 in Massachusetts, according to Department of Health Commissioner John Auerbach.
Under the law, camps and recreational programs must meet a number of new water safety requirements, including testing children during an initial session to determine swimming levels and identifying non-swimmers and at-risk swimmers. Camps and programs then must restrict children to a swimming area that corresponds to their assessed level.
“This legislation ensures the safety of our children by matching individual swimming ability to the right swimming area,” Patrick said during the signing. “This will help reduce risks for young children so they can take full advantage of the many outdoor recreational areas available to them in the commonwealth.”
Camps and recreational programs must have a Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device on hand for each child designated as a non-swimmer or at-risk swimmer. Programs also will be able to require parents and guardians to provide personal floatation devices for their children.
Programs now also are prohibited from not allowing parents or guardians to provide a Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device for their children. This provision is “unique nationally in empowering parents to ensure personal protection for their children,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.
The water safety law reaches beyond camps and recreational programs. Vehicles such as popular tour boats are required to have personal floatation devices for every passenger under age 10.
Jim Bassett was confirmed in May as New Hampshire’s newest Supreme Court justice, the Union Leader in Manchester reported. The seasoned lawyer’s nomination to the state’s highest court was questioned by conservative groups. The all-Republican Executive Council, however, voted 4-1 to approve Bassett’s appointment to the state’s highest court.

Maryland’s Department of Transportation in July announced $3.1 million in grants to increase and improve bicycling opportunities across the state, The Associated Press reported. The latest round of Bikeways Program grants will be used around the state for on- and off-road bike route connections and signs, bike racks, safety improvements and preliminary design of a bridge along the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Trail in south Odenton.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services in July released newly suggested rules for the state’s medical marijuana program, according to the Kennebec Journal. The proposed changes are the first updates to the program since its 2010 implementation. The modifications are in response to a 2011 law designed to liberalize the current program. Many of the updates will relax rules already in place. A public hearing on the proposed changes was scheduled in August.
The New Jersey Division of Taxation in July mailed reimbursement checks worth $195 million to 163,000 senior and disabled homeowners, The Star Ledger of Newark reported. The Property Tax Reimbursement Program, informally known as the Senior Freeze, is designed to help homeowners living on fixed or limited incomes deal with the effect of rising property taxes. Homeowners ages 65 or older who have low to moderate incomes and disabled people receiving Social Security assistance are eligible for the program.
The Delaware Division of Arts in July announced $1.4 million in grants for arts programs around the state. Nearly 100 arts initiatives in 25 communities will benefit from grants to support programming, education, marketing and promotion, according to a press release from Gov. Jack Markell’s office. The division’s funding comes from the Delaware General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.
New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch in July announced nine companies had received Job Training Fund grants totaling almost $200,000. Nearly 200 workers will receive training through the latest round of grants, according to the governor’s office. Lynch reinstated the Job Training Fund in 2007; it has helped train nearly 14,000 workers with almost $5 million in grants.