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6/15/2021 Senate passes two Felag environmental protection bills
STATE HOUSE – The Senate tonight passed two pieces of legislation sponsored by Sen. Walter S. Felag, Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton) that protect the environment.  The bills relate to toxic chemicals in drinking and other water sources and exempting reusable bags from the state sales tax.

“It is no secret that we are running out of time to protect and support our environment in order to reverse the devastating effects of climate change.  These important bills are a part of that process and demonstrate the commitment we all have to preserving Rhode Island’s precious natural resources,” said Senator Felag.

The first bill (2021-S 0107A) passed by the Senate would provide for the Department of Health to take action to establish maximum contaminate levels for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water and set interim standards. The act would also provide that the Department of Environmental Management set standards for PFAS in ground and surface waters, and adopt standards for PFAS monitoring at landfills.

Rep. June S. Speakman (D-Dist. 69, Warren, Bristol) has sponsored the legislation (2021-H 5523) in the House of Representatives.

“The presence of toxic chemicals in our drinking water, as well in ground and surface water, is a serious problem that poses significant health and environmental concerns.  This bill will protect our residents and the environment by ensuring that unsafe levels of these chemicals are no longer found in our water supply,” said Senator Felag.

The second piece of legislation (2021-S 0218A) passed tonight would exempt reusable bags from the state sales tax.  Reusable bags are defined as a bag with handles which are stitched and that is specifically designed and manufactured for 125 or more reuses, and is made primarily of washable cloth, other durable woven or nonwoven fabric, polyester, polypropylene, or other durable plastic.

“We have made remarkable strides lately in reducing the amount of plastic bag waste in our state but there is still more we can do to safeguard the environment.  By removing the sales tax on reusable bags, it will incentivize more people to use them when shopping, cutting down even more of our plastic pollution problem,” said Senator Felag.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903