Environment

The General Assembly did better on the environment than last session, but was it enough?

The Speaker makes the ultimate decisions on whether or not legislation moves out of committee and to the floor for a full vote. That decision may look like the responsibility of the various committee chairs, who oversee the public discussion of the legislation, but in fact no committee chair who wants to keep their seat will ever oppose the Speaker, and even if a committee chair were to oppose the Speaker, it is unlikely that a majority of committee members would risk voting for the bill.
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Published on August 24, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist

RI Rank has released it’s 2021 Rhode Island General Assembly Environmental Rankings, and though overall the legislature did much better than in years past, the results still give one that sinking feeling of too little, too late. Only bold legislative action is going to save us from the worst effects of climate change, and bold legislative action has been noticeably missing so far.

Taking bold action in a state our size will not stop global climate change, but it might provide a template the rest of the United States, and the world, might emulate.

As in prior RI Rank rankings, the biggest impediment to good legislation passing is House and Senate leadership. The Senate always does a little bit better than the House in passing environmental legislation, but legislation that doesn’t pass the House as well as the Senate never makes it to the Governor’s desk for a signature. So much of the responsibility for slow environmental action falls on the Speaker of the House, Joseph Shekarchi.

The Speaker makes the ultimate decisions on whether or not legislation moves out of committee and to the floor for a full vote. That decision may look like the responsibility of the various committee chairs, who oversee the public discussion of the legislation, but in fact no committee chair who wants to keep their seat will ever oppose the Speaker, and even if a committee chair were to oppose the Speaker, it is unlikely that a majority of committee members would risk voting for the bill.

The rankings, especially when compared with previous years, demonstrates clearly why it’s so important to elect and support environmental champions who will work hard to move our state forward on one of the most important existential threats facing our world.

See the rankings, and a full explanation, here:

2021 RI General Assembly Environmental Rankings

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