The finish line is in sight!
During the last several RI Legislative Sessions protecting and restoring access to Rhode Island’s shoreline has been a top priority, and the Rhode Island team has published articles, spoken on local panels, and even participated in a water access policy seminar at BHA’s 2023 North American Rendezvous in Missoula, Montana. Most recently, New England BHA and Save the Bay – Narragansett Bay co-authored a letter to RI’s legislative leadership urging passage of S417A – the most recent version of RI’s shoreline access bill considered before the RI General Assembly. The letter was supported by a broad coalition including Friends of the Waterfront - Newport, the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association, Clean Ocean Access, the Rhode Island Environmental Education Assocaition, the American Saltwater Guides Association, the Saltwater Edge, and others.
Last Thursday the RI Senate approved S417A by a vote of 30-4. Further, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider an amended version of a House bill that was passed earlier this year, H5174A, at a hearing on Tuesday, June 13. As amended, the language included in H5174A matches S417A, which is an important step because RI’s legislative process requires both chambers to pass bills in concurrence to enact legislation. It is customary for bills originating in each chamber to be amended to match each other as the chambers negotiate towards a final outcome. Assuming it passes the Senate later this week (as amended, H5174A matches a bill that has already passed the Senate) both bills will move back to the House for re-consideration later this week.
With the expectation that the RI General Assembly will finalize the FY2024 Budget on or before Friday June 16 there are only a few legislative days remaining. The finish line is in sight – and we need your voice to get H5174A & S417A across the finish line.