R 392
2015 -- H 5478
Enacted 06/17/2015

H O U S E   R E S O L U T I O N

Introduced By: Representatives Carson, Almeida, Lally, Azzinaro, and Naughton
Date Introduced: February 12, 2015

     WHEREAS, The State of Rhode Island has a long history of taking action to protect its
shoreline, its coasts and its economy; and
     WHEREAS, The Resilient RI legislation passed by the Rhode Island General Assembly
in 2014, has signified that climate change will have an impact on the use and enjoyment of the
public and private resources of the state and will require new types and levels of effort to secure
their preservation, regeneration and restoration; and
     WHEREAS, The effects of flooding and sea rise are real and measurable in Rhode Island
and have been publicly recognized; these include a rising sea level measured 10.6 inches since
1930 at the Newport Tide Gauge; thirty percent more intense storms driving worsening floods;
measurably longer and hotter summers and heat waves; and increasingly damaging coastal storms
and sea surge; and
     WHEREAS, The State of Rhode Island has valuable public and private assets that sit in
the floodplain; and
     WHEREAS, Rhode Island faces significant economic risks from flooding and sea rise
because of its size and its coastal assets, exposure and its intricate web of inland rivers and
streams and the effects of climate change that need to be seen in the context of other socio-
economic drivers; and
     WHEREAS, To date, there has been no comprehensive assessment of the economic risks
to the Rhode Island economy from flooding and sea rise; and
     WHEREAS, The clearest and most economically significant of these risks are damage to
publicly and privately owned coastal properties, businesses and infrastructure from rising sea
levels and increased storm surge, business interruption, property devaluation, lost tax revenue to
the municipalities and the state and climate-driven changes on labor productivity and public
health; and
     WHEREAS, Flooding impacts are unusual in that future risks are directly tied to present
decisions; and
     WHEREAS, Marine industries, the real estate industry and tourism are three of Rhode
Island’s biggest economic drivers and are at risk from sea rise and flooding; and
     WHEREAS, Rhode Island's business community and the public sector are partners in
moving the economy forward and each play an active role in helping to determine how best to
react to the risks and costs posed by sea rise and storm surge, and how to set the rules that move
Rhode Island forward in a sustainable, affordable direction; now, therefore be it
     RESOLVED, That the Rhode Island House Commission on Economic Risk Due to
Flooding and Sea Rise be and the same is hereby created consisting of eleven (11) members:
three (3) of whom shall be members of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, not more than
two (2) from the same political party, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House; one of whom
shall be from a Rhode Island institution of higher learning with a specialization in economics and
risk analysis, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House; one of whom shall be the President of
the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns, or designee; one of whom shall be a representative
of the insurance industry, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House; one of whom shall be the
Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce, or designee; one of whom shall be from a Rhode Island
Chamber of Commerce, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House; one of whom shall be from
the Newport Maritime Alliance, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House; one of whom shall
be the Chief Operating Officer of Provport, or designee; and one of whom shall be the Chairman
of the South County Tourism Council, or designee.
     In lieu of any appointment of a member of the legislature to a permanent advisory
commission, a legislative study commission, or any commission created by a General Assembly
resolution, the appointing authority may appoint a member of the general public to serve in lieu
of a legislator, provided that the majority leader or the minority leader of the political party which
is entitled to the appointment consents to the appointment of the member of the general public.
     The purpose of said commission shall be to make a comprehensive study to assess Rhode
Island's financial risk and economic exposure due to flooding and sea rise and report to the
General Assembly, including but not limited to:
     (1) Conduct a study from three case study locations using the Providence Port, the
Newport Waterfront and South County tourism and marine industries. Identify and highlight
climate risks to the specific business sectors of the Rhode Island economy attributed to the case
study locations, and provide actionable data at a geographically granular level for decision-
     (2) Provide data and information to Rhode Island municipalities, businesses and the
investment community so that they may factor sea rise and flooding into their short- and long-
term decision making;
     (3) Forecast and document the economic risks of sea rise and climate change in order to
provide information necessary for government, the business community, and the public to prepare
to respond to these risks through climate preparedness and mitigation in the case studies;
     (4) Forecast and document potential lost sales and income, unemployment, delayed sales
and income, increased expenses, delay of business plans, potential loss of value and the costs of
recovery strategies in the case studies;
     (5) Conduct risk assessment, identifying vulnerabilities that would make business assets
more susceptible to damage from flooding and sea rise. Vulnerabilities include deficiencies in
building construction, process systems, security, protection systems and loss prevention programs
in the case studies;
     (6) Project Rhode Island as a leader in the region for taking steps to insure minimal
business interruption and loss of value due to sea rise and sea surge; and
     (7) Make recommendations to the General Assembly for the broad purpose of
understanding the scope of the risk in order to take further steps to maintain the value of public
and private property and state and private revenue in Rhode Island's economy, to define effective
adaptation strategies, to better understand cost inaction; and to propose new approaches to
understand and address the business risks associated with sea rise and storm surge.
     Forthwith upon passage of this resolution, the members of the commission shall meet at
the call of the Speaker of the House and organize and shall select a chairperson.
     Vacancies in said commission shall be filled in like manner as the original appointment.
     The membership of said commission shall receive no compensation for their services.
     All departments and agencies of the state, shall furnish such advice and information,
documentary and otherwise, to said commission and its agents as is deemed necessary or
desirable by the commission to facilitate the purposes of this resolution.
     The Speaker of the House is hereby authorized and directed to provide suitable quarters
for said commission; and be it further
     RESOLVED, That the commission shall report its findings and recommendations to the
House of Representatives no later than January 6, 2016, and said commission shall expire on
February 6, 2016.