Boston- On Tuesday afternoon the Massachusetts Senate unanimously re-enacted legislation sponsored by State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) on behalf of summer camps statewide. The bill, An Act Providing Standards Allowing Camps to Conduct Criminal History Record Checks of Climbing Wall Instructors, is now before the Governor for final approval.
Downing’s legislation corrects a duplicative, time consuming, costly and unintended requirement faced by summer camp directors each year as they hired their summer workforce. It is commonplace for most camp counselors to also staff challenge courses located on site. As such, camp administrators were required to perform two CORI checks on each potential employee to ensure compliance with both public safety laws (statute dictates that summer camp counselors must have CORI checks) and challenge course regulations (the state Department of Public Safety requires a CORI check for challenge course staff). One CORI application per employee was insufficient because the relevant state agencies, the Criminal Systems History Board and the Department of Public Safety, were prohibited under state law from sharing data contained in CORI checks with each other.
Legislative action was necessary to enable camps to submit one CORI application per employee and still comply with all existing child safety requirements. Downing collaborated with the Executive Office of Public Safety, the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, the Criminal Systems History Board and the Department of Public Safety to craft the proposal. State Representatives Denis E. Guyer (D- Dalton) and William Smitty Pignatelli (D- Lenox) worked to advance the proposal in the House.
“This commonsense legislation will help dozens of summer camps in the Berkshires operate more resourcefully and hire appropriate employees without being bogged down with duplicative paperwork requirements. It also improves efficiency and collaboration in the state’s public safety agencies. The Patrick Administration has been very helpful with this initiative; I appreciate the guidance offered by the public safety agencies in this matter.”
Downing’s bill was originally incorporated in the FY 2010 state budget as a cost-savings measure. The Governor returned the section to the Legislature with an amendment that was later deemed unnecessary by the Administration. As such, it was necessary for the Legislature to re-enact the section as originally drafted for it to be signed into law.