Raising the Bar: 2017 Legislative Leaders

There is no environmental issue so polarizing within political circles as climate change.

President Trump has called it a hoax.

And state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan famously questioned if climate change was real by quipping “Based on the winter we just had, you say to yourself, are we really going through climate change?”

But as the impacts of the changing climate mount, more and more Republican legislators are breaking with party leaders and putting their constituents’ call for action above party dogma.

We are pleased to introduce you to three such members: Assemblymen Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station), Anthony Palumbo (R-Riverhead) and Andrew Raia (R-Northport).

All three have scores of 87 and all cast YES votes on the Climate and Community Protection Act (Bill Summary #1). This landmark legislation not only recognizes that climate change is happening, but that it’s having profound impacts on New Yorkers. The bill sets into law goals that will move the entire economy of the state off of fossil fuels and ensure equity for frontline communities and workers. Their districts are located in Suffolk County, the eastern part of Long Island. Donald Trump won this county by nearly seven points.

Assemblyman Raia actually represents some of the same constituents as Senator Flanagan. Oh, where we would be if Assemblyman Raia were Senate leader instead of John Flanagan.

While we recognize those that step outside of their party, we also have to recognize legislators who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to the environment throughout their long and illustrious careers. All New Yorkers owe them a debt of gratitude.

Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan): As a member of the Environmental Conservation Committee for the more than two decades she’s been in office, and current chair of the Higher Education Committee, Assemblywoman Glick scored 100 this year. She has always been there to fight for clean air, clean water, and the many benefits of renewable energy and open space.

Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D-Brooklyn): From fighting the Brooklyn Navy Yard incinerator 20 years ago to moving the priority green bills of Assembly colleagues
through the Codes Committee that he chairs, he is a consistent champion and his 100 score demonstrates his commitment to protecting our health and environment.

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-Ithaca): A member of the Environmental Conservation Committee, as well as her house’s climate change work group, Assemblywoman Lifton is constantly pushing for comprehensive policy to solve the climate crisis and grow good green jobs. She scored 100 this year.

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn): A reliable green champion, who focuses on improving the lives and livelihoods of her constituents, it’s no surprise to long-time watchers that she once again scored 100. We are all excited that she is taking her strong green credentials with her as she moves to chair the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

Senator Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo): He’s been in the Senate for seven legislative sessions, but as a reliable champion for environmental protection and health, it seems like he’s been there a lifetime. Western New Yorkers value clean water, healthy air, and much more, and the Senator’s 100 score reflects that ethos.

Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan): Her 100 score this year is just another reminder of what a true champion the Senator is. She is at every hearing on the State Budget, is always ready to debate and defend green legislation on the Senate floor, and she stands ever ready to take up the cause of clean air and water or beat back bad ideas to roll back key safeguards.

Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn): Fighting on behalf of a community that is home to notorious Superfund sites and which suffers from the pollution belched from the congested highways in New York – that’s what Senator Montgomery is all about. Consistently one of the Senate’s top performers, her 100 score this year exemplifies her commitment to her constituents.