By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
PROVIDENCE — According to the Statehouse press office, this week will likely be the last before the General Assembly wraps up the 2017 session. Advocates and opponents of legislation, therefore, are urging public action on outstanding bills.
In a rare Monday session, the House of Representatives acted on a few key bills:
Renewable energy on farms. H6095 allows protected open space to keep its tax-exempt status as long as no more than 20 percent of the land is used for wind, solar or other renewable-energy projects. After amendments, the bill received support from the Rhode Island Land Trust Council. The Senate passed its version (S570) of the bill June 22. The House passed the bill, 64-5.
Interconnection costs. H5483 sets the costs and the time line for interconnecting wind and solar projects to the electric grid. The bill passed the Senate on June 21. The House passed the bill, 64-3.
Guns. Members of Moms Demand Action on Gun Violence filled the House gallery to watch bill (H5510) pass, 55-12. The legislation requires domestic abusers to turn in their firearms if they are issued a restraining or protective order. The bill takes effect July 1.
Climate change. The House Committee on the Environment heard two bills on June 27 that focus on climate mitigation. H6305 and S108 instruct the state Climate Change Coordinating Council to study a carbon tax and dividend program. The Senate Judiciary Committee hears a bill (H5042) on June 28 that requires local planning boards to receive training on the effects of flooding and sea level rise. Bills (H5369 and S365) that propose a state carbon-pricing program have stalled in committee.
Raw milk. On June 28, the Senate Committee on the Environment and Agriculture is scheduled to hear a bill (S247) that sets standards for the sale and handling of raw milk.
The following bills are stalled in committee:
Pipeline tax. A bill (H6184) making it illegal to enact a so-called pipeline tax has stalled in committee. Several New England states have resisted efforts by electric transmission companies such as National Grid from charging electricity users for natural-gas pipeline projects.
Reproductive rights. A coalition of progressive groups wants the House to vote on the Reproductive Healthcare Act (5343). The legislation makes Roe vs. Wade officially legal in Rhode Island. Rhode Island outlaws most abortions, but the 1972 Supreme Court decisions makes those laws unenforceable.