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Date

2/1/2013

Title

Legislation would improve the Coastal Resources Management Council

ShortDescription

Rhode Island's coastal resources rank among its greatest treasures. We are named the "Ocean State" for good reason, as our coastline has shaped our history and culture, and is vital to our state's economy. I have introduced legislation to improve and streamline the state's primary agency responsible for protecting this precious asset, the Coastal Resources Management Council.

Description

Rhode Island’s coastal resources rank among its greatest treasures. We are named the “Ocean State” for good reason, as our coast line has shaped our history and culture, and is vital to our state’s economy.


I have introduced House Bills 5378 and 5356 to improve and streamline the state’s primary agency responsible for protecting this precious asset, the Coastal Resource Management Council (CRMC). 

Under H 5378, the membership of the CRMC would be reduced from 16 members to 12. I have designed H 5378 to meet the requirements of the voter-mandated Separation of Powers amendment to the state Constitution, but more importantly, to ensure that the majority of the members of the CRMC are representatives of coastal communities, large and small. Four of the members must be elected or appointed officials from coastal municipalities. 

My legislation also calls for seven members drawn from the general public, at least four of whom must reside in Rhode Island coastal communities.
These members would be appointed by Governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate.

To maintain an active role for the General Assembly in the management of our coastal resources, I have also introduced House Bill 5356, which would create a Joint Committee on Coastal Resources comprised of eight members – four Representatives and four Senators. This Joint Committee substitutes for the legislative appointees who have served on the CRMC but may no longer do so because of the separation of powers.

This committee would be empowered to conduct oversight of the state agencies charged with coastal management and environmental protection, including the CRMC.

These changes are necessary not only to comply with the requirements under separation of powers, but to also enhance the CRMC’s ability to respond to the challenges of the future. I want to provide our able CRMC director Grover Fugate and his staff with the kind of leadership that will make the CRMC more effective and efficient.

In the coming years, we must be prepared to address problems that are largely out of our control, such as more frequent and severe storms and rising sea levels. There are hard decisions facing the CRMC such as what we must do to protect and preserve natural and cultural features, including historic sites, barrier beaches, coastal ponds, wetlands and fishing grounds. The CRMC must also maintain a balance between conservation and development, and between conflicting private and public interests. 

We will need the CRMC to work in coordination with DEM, our coastal communities and federal agencies. I believe the changes I am proposing through these two bills will help the CRMC perform its difficult, but essential, mission.

(Representative Walsh represents House District 36 which covers all of Charlestown and Block Island as well as parts of Westerly and South Kingstown.)​

Op-Ed By

By Rep. Donna M. Walsh

Attachments

Created at 1/20/2014 7:18 AM by spadmin
Last modified at 1/20/2014 7:18 AM by spadmin