High scores

Michael Dobie by Newsday

Originally published in Newsday

Environmental groups impressed with how Democratic control of the State Legislature advanced their agenda in 2019 continue to lavish praise on the lawmakers. 

The latest comes from the environmental scorecard from EPL/Environmental Advocates of New York, which has been at this for many years. Besides praising budget wins like $500 million for clean water infrastructure, a plastic bag ban and a commitment to congestion pricing for New York City, and a spate of legislation highlighted by the climate change bill that seeks to move the state off fossil fuels, the group also noted that for the first time in years no bill was brought to a vote in either chamber that carried a “smokestack” rating — meaning it would have a negative impact on the environment.

The scorecard, which noted the Democratic takeover of the Senate, was given based on how lawmakers voted on 33 bills in the Senate and 27 in the Assembly.

All six Long Island Democrats in the Senate (John Brooks, James Gaughran, Todd Kaminsky, Anna Kaplan, Monica Martinez, and Kevin Thomas) received marks of 100 as did Republican Phil Boyle, and the GOP’s Kenneth LaValle was close behind with a 96. But Minority Leader John Flanagan scored a 61, which was better than only seven of his colleagues.

In the Assembly, Independence Party member Fred Thiele and eight of the nine Democrats scored 100 (the lone outlier, rookie Taylor Darling, got an 84 due to five missed votes). The top-scoring Republicans were Anthony Palumbo and Andrew Raia, tied at 94. The lowest score was the 72 recorded by Andrew Garbarino.

The scorecard expressed the “renewed hope” that the legislature is “reclaiming its status as a national environmental leader.”

In other words, let’s see what 2020 brings.