By Bob Katzen

The House approved and sent to the Senate legislation, known as the James Ward Act, which would increase the penalty of a hit and run with a recreational vehicle that causes bodily injury from a fine between $500 and $1,000 to a jail sentence of one year and/or a fine between $500 and $1,000. The proposal also creates the penalty of up to a $5,000 fine and/or a jail sentence of 2.5 years for a hit and run with a recreational vehicle that results in the death of the other party.

The legislation, according to the current sponsor, Rep. Kathy LaNatra (D-Kingston), was originally filed by Kingston’s former Rep. Tom Calter in response to an ATV accident in Plymouth in December of 2012 that resulted in the death of 14-year-old James Ward. After the accident, the rider of the other dirt bike promised James’ father that he would run and get help, yet instead fled the scene without returning. The other party was acquitted of negligent driving and only faced misdemeanor charges for leaving the scene of an accident.
“I am proud to see the James Ward Act finally pass the House of Representatives,” said LaNatra. “We must hold those accountable who are guilty of the cowardly act of leaving the scene of an accident trying to escape the consequences. I have gotten to know James, Sr. and Jill Ward and their family well through this, and I know how important this bill is to them. As a parent, it is my sincere hope that no family will have to lose a child and the other party only receive mild charges for leaving the scene of the accident.”
SCHOOL CUSTODIAN DAY (S 2126) – The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill declaring October 2nd as the School Custodian Day, in recognition of “the dedicated contributions provided by school custodians to ensure children of the commonwealth have clean, healthy and safe learning environments.” The governor would also recommend that the day be observed in an appropriate manner by the people.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, the commonwealth’s school custodians have continued to diligently care for our facilities and students,” said sponsor Sen. Walter Timilty (D-Milton). “We must take action here in Massachusetts to ensure our school custodial workers know we appreciate their hard work and dedication. I am happy to see this bill move out of the Senate and over to the House for action.”
QUOTABLE QUOTES — The Baker administration announced grants totaling more than $4.1 million to help Massachusetts nonprofit, faith-based organizations to improve physical security and protect against terroristic and hate-fueled attacks. The announcement was made at the 4th Annual Faith-Based Organizations Safety and Security Seminar hosted by the Commonwealth Fusion Center and attended by more than 150 federal, state, local and nonprofit partners at the Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center. Here are some of the quotes on the grant:
“Protecting our commonwealth means protecting the organizations that are the pillars of our communities. We are committed to ensuring that these nonprofits and houses of worship are protected and that everyone can feel safe when they gather and worship.”
—Gov. Charlie Baker

“Faith-based organizations provide important opportunities for people to worship, gather and connect with their faith and their community. Protecting these institutions from threats ensures that residents of every creed have a safe, dedicated space to engage in the life of their community.”
—Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito

“These grants ensure that nonprofit institutions where community members gather have the resources that they need to improve security. Ensuring the right to gather safely and to practice faith without fear is fundamental to our public safety goals.”
—Secretary of Public Safety and Security Terrence Reidy

“Gathering places such as houses of worship have unique security needs. The grants awarded through this program will help the recipients increase the security of their facilities while continuing to provide the open and welcoming gathering places their communities rely on.”
— Office of Grants and Research Executive Director Kevin Stanton

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