Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Legislative Delegation Scores Highly On Environmental Scorecard

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters has released its annual "environmental scorecard" that rates all of the state elected officials. The results this year were subtly different from previous years, when Representative Matt Lesser consistently received 100% environmental friendly ratings, and Senator Paul Doyle and Representative Joe Serra scored slightly lower.

This year, our two state senators each received a perfect score on their environmental votes during the last legislative session.  Doyle and Danté Bartolomeo were rated 100%. Bartolomeo was named a CTCLV 2015 Legislative Champion, for her leadership role in pesticides regulation.

Our two state representatives each fell one vote short of perfect, Joe Serra was rated at 88% and Matt Lesser at 86% on the scorecard.

In the Finance, Revenue and Bonding committee, Serra voted in favor of a bill that, according to the CTLCV, "contained sections that would have created new hurdles to passing important environmental protection regulations." The bill was not passed.

In the Government Administration and Elections committee Lesser voted in favor of a bill that the CTLCV wrote, "contained inappropriate provisions that would have conveyed 100 acres of Silver Sands State Park in Milford for parking, and provided access to private mining interests to build roads through the ecologically sensitive Quinebaug Wildlife Management area." The bill was later stripped of this controversial provision and was passed in a legislative special session.

Despite this, Lesser was also named CTCLV 2015 Legislative Champion, for his leadership role on land conveyance.

For the press release from CTLCV, read below the jump:

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV), a bipartisan environmental legislative watchdog, today released its annual Connecticut Environmental Scorecard. The Scorecard evaluates how members of the state legislature performed on the most important environmental and public health bills in 2015.

This year, the Scorecard includes 30 separate votes on 16 bills. Votes are counted in each committee, the House, and the Senate.

In a legislative session dominated by fiscal woes and disputes, Connecticut’s environment emerged a winner. Two issues deemed lost in the regular session were reconsidered and passed in the tumultuous special session. First, Connecticut will have the strongest laws in the nation regulating plastic microbeads in cosmetics which are detrimental to aquatic life. Second, the ban on pesticides will be extended to municipal playgrounds and allow a new nontoxic control for grubs.

Priority legislation enacted this session:  SB 347 Open Space, SB 1061 State Parks, HB 6839 Long Island Sound Blue Plan, and HB 6838 Residential Solar. The pesticide and microbeads legislation were passed as part of the Budget Implementer in the special session, but their core provisions were contained in SB 366 and HB 5286, respectively, during the regular session and are included in the Scorecard tallies.

Blocked unfavorable legislation: SB 941 Delay of Environmental Cleanup, HB 6998 Anti-Environment Sections of Land Conveyance, and HB 7055 Regulatory Rollbacks in "Connecticut First".

“These successes are shared by every community in this diverse, beautiful state we call home," stated David Bingham, CTLCV Co-Chair.

According to Bingham, the multi-pronged approach of the League of Conservation Voters achieved success this session because it encouraged collaboration between environmental groups, worked directly with legislators on important bills, and kept legislators mindful that the Scorecard would hold them accountable after the session. CTLCV also works to elect pro-environment lawmakers who will lead on issues, and make the environment a top priority at the state legislature.

“To enact good environmental laws, we need good people at the state legislature to fight for us,” said Lori Brown, CTLCV Executive Director. This year’s Scorecard shows some great wins, and we owe thanks to our champions in both chambers.”

The Environmental Champions highlighted in this year’s Scorecard are legislators who consistently fight to protect our rights to a clean and healthy environment, and who took the lead in moving one or more priority issues forward this session. The Co-Chairs of the Environment Committee, Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. and Representative James Albis, top the list of champions for their extraordinary and effective leadership on the vast majority of priority legislation.

Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. (D-S12)
Senator Beth Bye (D-S5)
Senator Tony Hwang (R-H134)
Senator Dante Bartolomeo (D-S13),

Representative James Albis (D-H99), Representative Terry Backer (D-121), Representative Greg Haddad (D-H54), Representative John Hampton (D-H16),  Representative Gail Lavielle (R-H143), Representative Matthew Lesser (D-100), Representative Philip Miller (D-H36), Representative Mary Mushinsky (D-H85), Representative Jonathan Steinberg (D-H136), Representative Diana Urban(D-H43), Representative Roberta Willis (D-H64), Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey (D-H133)

Initiatives expected to be introduced in the next session:  Unfinished business from the this last session that may return in 2016 include banning single-use plastic bags statewide; restricting pesticides on state park lawns; providing opportunities for communities to share solar facilities; addressing  the lack of mining controls and enforcement; managing industrial storm water runoff; restricting the sale of problem invasive species; discouraging the use of toxic artificial turf where children play; and reducing exposure to flame retardants.

"Despite the amazing progress this year, we must continue to monitor and fight back against the influence of special interests that are often detrimental to the environment, and get a majority of Connecticut legislators to support bills that preserve a healthy environment,” commented Brown.

The public may learn more about the 2015 session, view the Scorecard, access background information on issues, and track the progress of legislation in 2016 session by visiting www.ctlcv.org

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters helps elect pro-environment lawmakers and holds them accountable for passing legislation to protect health, communities and the environment. CTLCV publishes the annual Connecticut Environmental Scorecard, which rates the actions of every state legislator on the state’s environmental priorities each year.

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