North Shore politicians get high grades on environmental report card

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North Shore politicians get high grades on environmental report card
State Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) received a 92 percent score from the New York League of Conservation Voters. (Courtesy of Phillips' office)

State Sen. Elaine Phillips and state Assemblymen Tony D’Urso and Charles Lavine all received ratings over 90 percent on an environmental scorecard released by a voter’s group.

The report was put together by the New York League of Conservation Voters. Both state senators and assemblymen were graded on whether they took the pro-environment vote on legislation.

Both D’Urso and Lavine received perfect 100 percent ratings, while Phillips received 92 percent.

The average score on Long Island was 74 percent for assemblymen and 85 percent for senators.

Only Assemblyman Edward Ra failed to clear 90. He was given a 69 percent rating, which was an improvement over his 63 percent score in 2017.

“I always take these scorecards with a grain of salt,” Ra said of his ranking.

Ra said that he was unfairly punished by the scorecard’s methodology.

By the scorecards methodology, legislators are also given a positive mark if they co-sponsor a bill that does not make the floor for a vote. If a legislator does not co-sponsor the bill, they receive a demerit even if the bill is never voted on.

Ra received marks against him for “Toxic show and tell,” a bill that would establish a list of chemicals highly harmful to children, a bill preserving agricultural land and a bill for “Carryout Bag Waste Reduction.” None of them were voted on by the full Assembly.

He also received demerits for “The Community Preservation Fund for the Town of Bethlehem,” which would have allowed the town to establish a community preservation fund.

Ra voted in support of the bill in 2017, but an attempt to pass it again in 2018 did not reach the floor and Ra did not co-sponsor.

The carryout bag bill was also the only mark against Phillips.

Like the Assembly version, this bill did not make it out of committee and Phillips did not co-sponsor. Nonetheless, Phillips touted her high mark.

“I am grateful to the League for recognizing my efforts to reach across the aisle and find bipartisan solutions that are helping to make Long Island an even better, safer and cleaner place to live and raise our families,” she said in a statement.

Phillips, who raised her score from 81 percent in 2017, received praise from NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn.

Phillips has proven her commitment to our environment through her legislative record,” Bystryn said. “She has introduced several pieces of legislation to protect our water supply including requiring stricter testing.”

D’Urso, who received a 94 percent grade the year before, also touted the NYLCV’s endorsement.

I look forward to working with the League on issues such as preserving our drinking water supply and maintaining the Long Island Sound,” he said in a statement. “We all need to work together to preserve our planet.”

Lavine was happy to receive a perfect score and promised not to rest on his laurels.

I’m very honored and humbled to receive the NYLCV’s perfect score,” he said. “Given the damage to Mother Nature being perpetrated by the Trump administration, it is all the more reason for each of us who care about our children’s and grandchildren’s future to stand up and fight.”

Around the state, Democrats ranked ahead of Republicans in support. The Senate Democratic Conference received a 92 percent score and the Assembly Democratic Conference received an 83. The Senate Republican Conference was given a 60 percent score, with the Assembly Republican Conference close behind at 59 percent.

Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at ltorrance@theislandnow.com, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.

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