State Senate passes two bills aimed at coastal council
The Senate last week approved two related pieces of legislation sponsored by Sen. Susan Sosnowski that would change the composition of the Coastal Resources Management Council to comply with the Rhode Island Constitution’s amendment on the separation of powers Constitutional.
The other bill would create a permanent joint legislative committee to oversee the CRMC and the state Department of Environmental Management. Jamestown resident Anne Livingston is the current chairwoman of the state’s coastal council.
The Senate, which passed the first bill in a 32-0 vote, has supported restructuring the CRMC to comply with the amendment for several years. The chamber also approved the bill for a joint committee on coastal matters with a vote of 34-0.
“It is important to have a permanent entity in place to oversee the best interests of the coastal communities and resources long after my colleagues and I are gone from this chamber,” said Sosnowski, who represents South Kingstown and New Shoreham. “Furthermore, the constitutional amendment is crucial to continue the CRMC’s mission in the most transparent manner possible.”
If approved in the House, the first bill would change the membership of the CRMC from 16 members to 12. It would allow municipal appointed members who no longer hold their elected or appointed positions to continue to serve on the coastal council. It would also increase the governor’s appointments from the general public from three to seven, and remove language stating that members of the General Assembly must serve on the panel. While it may seem like a small change, Sosnowski said it is important that CRMC conform to the amendment voters approved in 2004, providing balance to the governor’s appointments with the requirement that the Senate approve nominations.
The second bill establishes the a committee on coastal resources, which would provide oversight of the CRMC and the DEM in all matters relating to the use, conservation, regulation and management of Rhode Island’s coastal resources.
Rep. Donna Walsh sponsored companion legislation to both bills in the House. They have been referred to the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.