2017-12-07 / Front Page

New senator outlines ’18 legislative agenda

Euer has first local constituent meeting since win

State Sen. Dawn Euer speaks to a group of about 20 constituents Tuesday night at the senior center. Euer answered questions and discussed her legislative priorities for the upcoming session. State Sen. Dawn Euer speaks to a group of about 20 constituents Tuesday night at the senior center. Euer answered questions and discussed her legislative priorities for the upcoming session. Dawn Euer, the new state senator for District 13, wants to prepare for rising seas while making sure senior citizens get to their doctor’s appointments on time.

Euer spoke Tuesday night in Jamestown during her first constituent meeting since easily winning a special election in August to replace Teresa Paiva Weed. In front of about 20 audience members at the senior center, including top town and school administrators, Andy Nota and Ken Duva, respectively, Euer answered a handful of questions while outlining her legislative priorities.

“I’m a policy nerd,” the Newport lawyer said.

Although the General Assembly doesn’t reconvene until January, Euer already has a few votes under her belt. That’s because the legislature had a special session to vote on the 2017-18 spending plan, along with other measures that were considered.

“I read everything on the committee agendas, and I read everything that was heading to the floor for a vote,” Euer said. “I wanted to make sure that I knew what I was voting on. It was exciting and interesting.”

Among those votes, Euer supported a measure sponsored by her Newport House member Lauren Carson that requires municipal planning commissioners to study the effects of the climate change. Euer said she currently is working with Carson to further prepare her two coastal communities for sea-level rise.

“We want municipalities to move forward and become more resilient,” she said.

Euer also is drafting legislation that will hold private transportation companies accountable if they have obligations with the state. Specifically, she said, there have been complaints about LogistiCare, a service that provides seniors citizens with rides to their medical appointments.

“I’ve heard that they have trouble showing up on time,” Euer said. “If they have a contract with the state, then they need to meet those standards.”

Responding to a question about the Right to Farm Act, which passed the House in 2017 but was defeated by the Senate, Euer said she has “expressed her strong opposition.” The bill, if passed, would allow farms to have weddings, concerts and festivals on their properties regardless of local zoning laws. Euer, however, warned the audience this most likely will be a perennial bill.

“There are a handful of folks who are just really interested in using their farms for different purposes,” she said. “But we give subsidies to farms. I don’t want to give development tax credits if they’re basically running a wedding venue.”

This law, however, is only the beginning, Euer cautioned the audience. She expects further State House initiatives to usurp local control.

“Protecting our community character is not always an easy conversation,” she said.

Before Euer closed the intimate session, Nota said he wanted her to keep an eye on potential legislation that will affect Jamestowners. He mentioned the proposed rate increases by National Grid, as well as the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Center, which at some point could make the town’s transfer station cost-prohibitive.

He also wants her to develop a good working relationship with the state Department of Transportation. The agency, he said, typically overlooks Jamestown. For example, the town takes it upon itself to mow, plow, sweep and repair potholes on state roads in town.

“When we do call, it’s serious,” he said. “The rest of the time we’re taking care of it ourselves. We have a great personal relationship, but we’re a small fish in a big pond.”

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