As legislators prepare for the start of the legislative session this week, many are looking to complete work left unfinished from the last session, with legislators on both the East and West Bay focusing on climate and shoreline access among their key issues.
What’sUpNewp reached out to legislators from the Newport County area and on the South Shore, asking for their vision for this upcoming legislative session. There are clearly similarities in the two areas, with waterfront and tourism critical concerns.
We have heard from most of the legislators and have promises of responses from a couple of others. Over the next few days, we’ll be publishing their responses, including whether legislators believe enough has been done to forestall any repeat of the devastating as outage four years ago. And we’ll be certain to let you know which legislators chose not to respond.
Here’s what we asked: What do you expect will be your key initiatives in the year ahead. And for those in the Newport area, relative to the gas crisis: I’m wondering if you feel the issue has been addressed to the level that residents should feel secure that there is very little likelihood of a similar incident.
Our survey wen to Senators Walter Felag, D-Dist. 10 (Tiverton/Warren); Lou DiPalma, D-Dist. 12 (Little Compton/Middletown); and Dawn Euer, D-Dist. 13 (Newport/Jamestown. Also, to Senators-elect Linda Ujifusa, D-Dist. 11 (Bristol/Portsmouth) and Victoria Gu, D-Dist. 38 (Westerly, Charlestown South Kingstown).
In the House, we sent our questions to Representatives John Edwards, D-Dist. 70 (Portsmouth/Tiverton); Michelle McGaw, D-Dist. 71 (Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton); Terri-Denise Cortvriend, D-Dist. 72 (Middletown/Portsmouth); Marvin Abney, D-Dist. 73 (Middletown/Newport); Lauren Carson, D-Dist. 75 (Newport); Sam Azzinaro, D-Dist. 37 (Westerly); and Brian Patrick Kennedy, D-Dist. 38 (Westerly, Hopkinton). Also, Representatives-elect Tina Spears, D-Dist. 36 (Block Island, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly); Megan Cotter, D-Dist. 39 (Richmond, Exeter, Hopkinton); and Alex Finkelman, D-Dist. 74 (Jamestown/Middletown).
Here is the response from Representative Cortvriend, who was among the primary sponsors and advocates for a shoreline access bill that has drawn considerable interest on both sides of the bay.
Shoreline Access: I look forward to helping to shepherd the shoreline access bill to passage this year. As you may recall the House unanimously passed the bill last year, but we lacked a Senate sponsor. The bill will definitely be introduced and get a hearing in the Senate this year The House will have to hear the bill again and bring it to the floor for passage. I am hoping that the House can do this early in the session and I believe the support remains strong.
Toxic Chemical in packaging and consumer products: In follow-up to that legislation that we passed last session banning PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in food packaging I will be working with advocates to submit a more comprehensive ban on a number of consumer items containing PFAS with the goal of getting manufacturers to use alternative materials in their products.
Here is the Environmental Protection Agency’s explanation of PFAS:
- PFAS are widely used, long lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time.
- Because of their widespread use and their persistence in the environment, many PFAS are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world and are present at low levels in a variety of food products and in the environment.
- PFAS are found in water, air, fish, and soil at locations across the nation and the globe.
- Scientific studies have shown that exposure to some PFAS in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals.
- There are thousands of PFAS chemicals, and they are found in many different consumer, commercial, and industrial products. This makes it challenging to study and assess the potential human health and environmental risks.
Cleaning up our Transportation Sector: I plan to introduce legislation designed to help the state meet its climate goals by encouraging accelerated transition to EV’s (electric vehicles) as the transportation sector is the state’s largest source of greenhouse gases.
Support of people with intellectual disabilities: I will continue to work with the Developmental Disabilities Council and plan to introduce legislation in support of their goals and priorities. One bill will require police training to help them recognize who may have cognitive or communication-related disabilities and to develop appropriate law enforcement responses to emergencies and complaints that these people may be involved in.