Priorities and Agenda

Legislative Agenda and Priorities

January 15, 2014

Statement on Governor Chafee’s Clean Water, Open Space, and Healthy Communities 2014 Bond Referendum

Save The Bay thanks Governor Chafee for including this $75MM request in his 2014 budget. It is a big request designed to meet the state’s real need for investment in wastewater infrastructure, stormwater management, and flood prevention.

Save The Bay is especially pleased to see $20MM in funding for the RI Clean Water Finance Agency to invest in wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and $31.5MM linked to an array programs designed to restore natural buffers along our rivers coasts, expand floodplains, conserve valuable habitat and support public enjoyment of Rhode Island’s natural resources by investing in parks and recreational facilities like Rocky Point. 

We thank the Governor and look forward to working with leaders and members of the General Assembly to secure passage. 

Save The Bay asks for the public's support for the Bond early by letting legislators know that investing in clean water and healthy communities is important to Rhode Island.

RI General Assembly:  2013 Wrap-up 

The Rhode Island General Assembly wrapped up its 2013 session by failing to pass legislation to phase-out cesspools and strengthen inspection of dams. On two other issues – restructuring of government agencies and protection of natural resources – the Assembly adopted amendments supported by Save The Bay and our fellow environmental organizations. 

Statewide Cesspool Phase-out (H6031)

The Cesspool Phase-out bill, which would have required cesspools to be replaced within one year of the transfer of a property, did not pass despite the hard work of Reps. Teresa Tanzi (Narragansett), Donna Walsh (Charlestown, Block Island), and Art Handy (Cranston).  Sponsors built momentum and vowed to continue their fight for passage in 2014.

Dam Inspection (H5535)

A Save The Bay supported bill to require owners of “significant-hazard” dams to inspect their dams failed to pass out of Committee. A safety hazard to people and property downstream of Rhode Island’s aging dams remains. Warwick Rep. Frank Ferri and Sen. Michael McCaffery introduced the bill. Had it passed, H5535 also would have created opportunities for restoration of fish passages in freshwater rivers.

Executive Office of Commerce (H6063)

Save The Bay and environmental groups successfully fended off an attempt to place CRMC and some DEM divisions and their functions, including permitting, under a new Department of Commerce in a bill that was passed by the General Assembly.

Wetlands & Septic System Regulation Task Force (S672)

Save The Bay won amendments to a bill that would have stripped municipalities of their right to establish stronger, local protections of natural resources than State protections. The amendment supported by Save The Bay establishes a task force to review state regulations and make recommendations for the State by 2015. Save The Bay will be represented by Tom Kutcher, Narragansett Baykeeper, on the task force.