STATE Legislature Briefs
Penalties for Blocking Traffic
Rep. Timothy Whelan (R -Brewster) has filed legislation imposing a one-year jail sentence and up to a $2,500 fine on anyone who intentionally blocks travel on the state's highways.
The measure was filed in response to last week's blocking of traffic on Route 93 by protestors who said they were calling attention to racial injustice. Whelan, a former State Police officer, said,
"The irresponsible acts of individuals ... on Route 93 not only caused many thousands of our citizens to be inconvenienced, it also caused a drain on public resources at great monetary expense to the public. The fact that emergency vehicles, including ambulances transporting medically fragile patients, were delayed or rerouted is appalling."
Down to the Wire
Gov. Deval Patrick was very busy on Beacon Hill before he left office and signed several bills that were approved by the Legislature in the waning days of the 2014 session. The new laws include this legislation:
Town Meetings (S 2121)
Allows town moderators, after consultation with local public safety officials and selectmen, to recess and continue a town meeting at a future time, date and place because of a weather-related or public safety emergency. The bill also repeals the current law that requires the moderator to be present at the physical location of the town meeting in order to declare the recess.
Supporters cited the example of the town of Georgetown, which had to postpone its town meeting during Hurricane Sandy but could only legally do so if the moderator actually braved the hurricane and went to the location of the meeting. They said this is unnecessary and dangerous.