Green initiative likely
By Dan Ladd
Albany — As New York’s 2023 legislative session gets fully underway, the state’s Environmental Conservation Committee will have new leadership.
Earlier this year, Deborah J. Glick, (D-66) of Manhattan, was appointed chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation, while State Sen. Pete Harckham (D-40), of Westchester County, was appointed as chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee.
New York’s Environmental Conservation Committee is a standing committee that considers bills as they are introduced by members of the legislature. Committees review and often refine those that fall under the committee’s subject matter.
The ENCON Committee addresses numerous environment-related legislative items, including those related to hunting, fishing and trapping along with other issues such as water quality, climate change and the Environmental Protection Fund.
Glick succeeds Long Island Assemblyman Steve Englebright, who as committee chair was somewhat at the center of the debate over crossbow legislation in 2022. In May, a pair of crossbow bills that were on the committee’s agenda were packaged with more than a dozen others and Englebright suggested the committee vote to hold them for consideration rather than move them forward for an eventual possible floor vote. The committee approved.
Harckham has served as chair of the Senate Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Committees since taking office in the state Senate four years ago. He succeeds Todd Kaminsky, a former state senator who retired at the end of 2022, as chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee.
“With our focus on the state’s ambitious goals enacted in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, there will be much work to plan and complete statewide,” Harckham said in news release issued by the Senate.
There was no similar announcement from the Assembly regarding Glick. Glick and Harckham did not respond to New York Outdoor News inquiries about their appointments.
Harckham said he plans to focus on the abundance of freshwater in New York and said that in the years to come it will give the state a competitive economic edge over other states. Other priorities include protecting the state’s drinking water supplies at the source against pollution, reducing plastic waste, and improving processes for chemicals, pesticides and other toxins. He will help oversee the expenditures relating to the state’s recently enacted $4.2 billion Environmental Bond Act.
Harckham’s past legislation highlights include a wetlands bill that preserved DEC’s authority over wetlands that are 12.4 acres and larger and expanded the agency’s authority over smaller wetlands of “unusual importance.”
Additionally, Harckham had three of his in-land waterways bills signed into law in 2022 which aimed to help municipalities improve water quality, preserve open space and protect wildlife habitat.
What lies ahead for sporting-related legislation remains to be seen. Some form of crossbow expansion legislation is likely to be proposed, as are what seems to be an annual series of anti-trapping bills and those dealing with lead-free hunting ammunition.
This year also marks the final season of the pilot Junior Hunting program, which allows hunters ages 12 and 13 to hunt deer with a rifle while being mentored. It expires at the end of 2023 and most sportsmen’s groups are pushing to make it permanent.