2021 RI General Assembly Environmental Rankings

Find out which Rhode Island lawmakers are taking climate change seriously and working to protect your health.

Why We Rank Environmental Voting Records

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's devastating new report laid bare, we are running out of time. Nothing short of extreme, swift action on climate will save much of the world from uninhabitable conditions in the coming decade. Worse still, Rhode Island already has and will continue to bear a large part of the most extreme changes that are coming. While we Rhode Islanders cannot resolve climate change ourselves, it is  imperative that do all we can to help reverse current temperature trends. This means lawmakers must make choices that may run counter to their donors' wishes, party leadership, and voters who deny the coming effects of climate change. 

But more than just climate change, the Environmental Rankings disclose which lawmakers are working to protect your health and home from pollution and harmful carcinogens.

Summary of Findings

As in years past, Democratic leadership in both chambers continues to block critical climate bills aimed at reducing emissions and protecting their constituents. It was widely expected that new House Speaker Joe Sherkarchi would be more amenable to climate action bills. While he did allow a vote on a handful of climate bills that his predecessor would surely have held for further study (i.e. killed), the Speaker performed much like former Speaker Mattiello in blocking important climate and health bills including an initiative to help reduce emissions from vehicles (the largest source of carbon emissions), banning high levels of harmful PFAs in drinking water, and reducing plastic bag use.  The votes don't lie: Speaker Shekarchi's leadership did not take climate change as seriously as it should and showed indifference when it came to the health of Rhode Islanders. Most members of the House voted similarly on bills that were allowed a vote, with only the Act on Climate bill (H-5445) receiving more than a handful of "NO" votes. 

In the Senate, performance of leadership was similar to year's past with more bills being allowed through than in the House, but still yielding a dismal record with 46% of ECRI-endorsed bills being blocked by Senator Ruggerio and his leadership team. Senate leadership failed voters in blocking a number of key bills from a vote including a ban of harmful PFAs from food packaging, and renewing expired Green Buildings standards. As in the House, members of the Senate largely voted in unison with some resistance on the Act on Climate bill (S-78) and the TEAM Act (S-872A) that works to reduce vehicle emissions. 

The average member of the GA was able to vote on 15 environmental bills that made it to the floor. Overall, members performed far better than in year's past. This was buoyed by the election of a large number of climate-friendly progressives in 2020, most of whom earned excellent scores in these rankings. As in the past, conservative members failed to take climate change and pollution seriously, voting against much of the legislation intended to protect nature, your health, and the effects of climate change. 

For the first time, this year's votes were weighted, with ECRI denoting the most important bills and members receiving more credit for voting alongside the Environmental Council of Rhode Island on these pieces of legislation. This improved the quality of the rankings by creating a clear difference between a comprehensive bill that carries a lot of impact such as Act on Climate, and a much less consequential bill that requires restaurant patrons to request a straw. 

Bills Blocked by Leadership - 2021

General Assembly:

49%

Senate:

43%

House:

54%

Bills Blocked by Leadership - 2018-2019

General Assembly:

70%

Senate:

67%

House:

74%

How We Ranked Environmental Voting Records

We evaluated the 54 bills with assigned Senate and House bill numbers in which the Environmental Council of Rhode Island publicly supported or opposed during the 2021 legislative year. Members were awarded points (see below) for floor votes that supported the ECRI position, and zero points if they opposed the ECRI position, abstained, or were absent from the vote. If a member recused themselves due to a conflict of interest, the bill was not counted on their record. Those serving on committees that voted on an applicable bill were awarded points for a vote that aligned with the ECRI position, and zero points for a vote opposing the ECRI position. An absence or abstaining from a committee vote was not counted at all, since legislators were more likely to miss committee votes than floor votes due to other obligations. 3 points were awarded for votes in alignment with the ECRI position on the highest priority bills. 2 points were awarded for high priority bills, and 1 point was award for all other bills. 

Blocked bills are recorded differently in the House than in the Senate. In the Senate, bills are taken up and then blocked using the "Hold for Further Study" technique. Every committee member goes on record as voting to block the bill(s), and were penalized for doing so when the vote opposed ECRI's position. In the House, bills are usually held in groups so committee members do not have to go on record as blocking individual bills. In the past, because this committee vote data was left off of the legislative website at the behest of the Speaker, credit for blocking these bills was given solely to the House Speaker, who directs which bills are to be taken up and which are to remain "dead". We have since decided to submit APRA requests for these votes and assign them applicably to members of House committees.

Bills were categorized by RI Rank in three categories: Energy and Climate, Health, and those focusing on Nature and Conservation. All but one member (Senator Calkin) was present and available for enough votes to be fully scored in every category. 

Update 9/2021: After publication, we learned that the votes for two bills used in our senate rankings were counted incorrectly. S78/H5445 should have used the final (concurrent) version passed in the House for the Senate's floor vote tally. S527, originally marked as "held for further study", was passed late in the session without a displayed bill number and under a different title which our system could not account for. Senate scores have been updated accordingly. Additionally we have moved up a rule to assign committee voting accountability for the Senate President from 2022 to 2021, and scores have been updated accordingly. Read more on these updates here.

Senate Environmental Rankings

Excellent OK Poor

Swipe left to see ratings

#SenatorDistScoreEnergy &
Climate
HealthConservation
1Goodwin, M1100100100100
1Bell, S5100100100100
1Mack, T6100100100100
1Ciccone, F7100100100100
1Lawson, V14100100100100
1McCaffrey, M29100100100100
1Anderson, K31100100100100
8Quezada, A2959492100
8Gallo, H27959510090
10Burke, J99410083100
11Lombardo, F259286100100
12Felag, W109183100100
12Acosta, J169183100100
12Murray, M249183100100
12Sosnowski, S37918810090
16Cano, S88979100100
16Seveney, J118979100100
16DiPalma, L128979100100
19Picard, R208878100100
20Goldin, G38710010056
21Pearson, R198672100100
22Kallman, M1584946981
23Lombardi, F26836792100
24Mendes, C18828257100
25Ruggerio, D481867481
25Miller, J2881916980
25Valverde, B3581916980
25DiMario, A3681916980
29Coyne, C3279917174
30Euer, D1377787180
31Archambault, S2275867070
31Raptakis, L33754792100
33Algiere, D38684771100
34Rogers, G2148175276
35Paolino, T1744265770
36de la Cruz, J2342136767
37Morgan, E3432174356
N/ACalkin, J30N/AN/AN/AN/A

Key / Scoring

Score is the cumulative total of the Senator's floor and committee vote points that support the ECRI position divided by the total number of points the Senator could have earned (committee votes were only counted if the Senator was present for the vote). We then multiplied the score by 100 to create a scale from 1-100. 

Vote points are the values ECRI has assigned to each bill, with high priority bills being worth more points. Highest priority = 3 points. High priority = 2 points. Normal priority = 1 point.

Scores for each individual category were tabulated as above. A Senator must have been able to participate in 3/4 of all bills listed below to be scored, otherwise they were given a score of N/A.

Senators with scores above 89 are considered "Excellent" environmental advocates, scores between 70 - 89 are "OK", and scores below 70 are considered "Poor". For both individual categories and overall score, the maximum possible score is 100. The lowest possible score is 0.

Bills Scored

All bills are Senate bills (S-prefix) unless otherwise noted. All bills listed are from the 2021 voting session. Bills in red are ECRI-rated highest priority and bills in bold are high priority. Underlined bills awarded points for opposing the bill.

Energy and Climate: 78/H5445, 629-A, 634-B, 339-A, 35-A, 872-A, 584, 464, 474, and 760.

Health: 107-A, 110, 702, 527, 254, 105-A, 318, 540, and H5093-A.

Nature/Conservation: 470, 37, 36, 38-A, 94, 106, 155, 172, 220, 562, and H5376-A.

House Environmental Rankings

Excellent OK Poor

Swipe left to see ratings

#RepresentativeDistScoreEnergy &
Climate
HealthConservation
1Ajello, E1100100100100
1Blazejewski, C2100100100100
1Kislak, R4100100100100
1Hull, R6100100100100
1Morales, D7100100100100
1Slater, S10100100100100
1Diaz, G11100100100100
1Potter, B16100100100100
1Handy, A18100100100100
1McNamara, J19100100100100
1Solomon, Jr., J22100100100100
1McEntee, C33100100100100
1Tanzi, T34100100100100
1Fellela, D43100100100100
1O'Brien, W54100100100100
1Kazarian, K63100100100100
1Henries, B64100100100100
1Knight, J67100100100100
1Speakman, J68100100100100
1Donovan, S69100100100100
1Edwards, J70100100100100
1McGaw, M71100100100100
1Abney, M73100100100100
1Ruggiero, D74100100100100
1Carson, L75100100100100
26Fogarty, K359710010089
27Alzate, K609610010083
28Cortvriend, T729510010075
29Marszalkowski, A529410085100
30Noret, T259210078100
30Caldwell, J309210010067
30Casimiro, J319210078100
30Corvese, A559210078100
34Williams, A99110075100
34Vella-Wilkinson, C219110078100
34Kennedy, B389110075100
34Ackerman, M459110075100
34Shalcross Smith, M469110075100
34Lima, S499110075100
34Casey, S509110075100
34Amore, G659110075100
42Phillips, R519010073100
43Ranglin-Vassell, M5898310088
44Craven, R328867100100
45Felix, L61871008867
46Shanley, E248667100100
46Serpa, P278610010040
46Messier, M628667100100
46Cassar, L668667100100
50Baginski, J17821007560
50Tobon, C58821006380
52Lombardi, J8796778100
52Batista, J12791006767
52Bennett, D2079678889
55Cardillo, E427810038100
56Lima, C147710038100
57Fenton-Fung, B15768329100
58Barros, J5973896360
59Shekarchi, J2367578063
60McLaughlin, J5763546086
61Biah, N350335080
61Nardone, G28501163100
61Chippendale, M40501163100
61Newberry, B48501163100
61Hawkins, B5350335080
61Giraldo, J5650335080
67Roberts, S2945116380
67Filippi, B3645116380
67Azzinaro, S3745335060
70Morgan, P2643155880
71Place, D4742114483
72Price, J3939116350
73Quattrocchi, R4136113880
74Perez, R132706320
75Costantino, G44143300

How We Rank

Score is the cumulative total of the Representative's floor and committee vote points that support the ECRI position divided by the total number of points the Senator could have earned (committee votes* were only counted if the Senator was present for the vote). We then multiplied the score by 100 to create a scale from 1-100. 

Vote points are the values ECRI has assigned to each bill, with high priority bills being worth more points. Highest priority = 3 points. High priority = 2 points. Normal priority = 1 point.

Scores for each individual category were tabulated as above. A Representative must have been able to participate in 3/4 of all bills listed below to be scored, otherwise they were given a score of N/A.

Reps with scores above 89 are considered "Excellent" environmental advocates, scores between 70 - 89 are "OK", and scores below 70 are considered "Poor". For both individual categories and overall score, the maximum possible score is 100. The lowest possible score is 0.

* Committee votes for bills that died in committee are not yet applied as we await responses to APRA requests for these vote tallies. Once counted, this will result in lower scores for members of the applicable committees.

Bills Scored

All bills are House bills (H-prefix) unless other noted. All bills listed are from the 2021 voting session. Bills in red are ECRI-rated highest priority and bills in bold are high priority. Underlined bills awarded points for opposing the bill.

Energy and Climate: H5445, 5762, 6144, 5966, 5360, 6310, 5809, 5919, 6169, and 5625.

Health: 5523, 5356, 5641, 5923, 5446, 5674, and 5093.

Nature/Conservation: 5760, 5358, 5259, 5472, 5138, 5376, 5280, 5133, and 5131.