RI H 5478: Creating the Rhode Island House Commission on Economic Risk Due to Flooding and Sea Rise

In June 2015, Rhode Island House Resolution 5478 created an 11 member special legislative commission whose purpose was to study and make recommendations concerning the economic risks relating to and resulting from sea rise and flooding in the state. The Commission expired and disbanded on February 6, 2016 after reporting back their findings and recommendations to the House of Representatives.

The commission provided information on economic risks to Rhode Island municipalities, businesses and the investment community in order to factor sea rise and flooding into their short- and long- term decision making. The commission was also charged with making recommendations to the General Assembly about further steps to maintain the value of public and private property and revenue, to define adaptation strategies, to better understand the cost of inaction, and to propose new approaches to understand and address the business risks associated with sea rise and storm surge.

The Special House Commission’s Final Report profiles these recommendations along with the economic risk assessment and vulnerabilities to business assets from flooding and sea level rise - including deficiencies in building construction, process systems, security, protection systems and loss prevention programs. 

The House Commission on Economic Risk Due to Flooding and Sea Rise consisted of the following 11 members:

Three of the Commission members were members of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, and not more than two from the same political party, appointed by the Speaker of the House. 

The Speaker of the House also appointed one member from each of:

  • a Rhode Island institution of higher learning with a specialization in economics and risk analysis,
  • a representative of the insurance industry,
  • a Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, and
  • the Newport Maritime Alliance.

Other members of the Commission included the President of the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns; the Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce;  the Chief Operating Officer of Provport; and the Chairman of the South County Tourism Council - or designees of each.

As described in the legislation, the clearest and most economically significant impacts of sea level rise and storm surge in Rhode Island are damage to publicly and privately owned coastal properties, businesses and infrastructure, business interruption, property devaluation, lost tax revenue to the municipalities and the state and climate-driven changes on labor productivity and public health. However, prior to the establishment of this Commission, there had been no comprehensive assessment of the economic risks to the state's economy from flooding and sea rise. 


Publication Date: June 17, 2015

Related Organizations:

  • State of Rhode Island

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  • Laws

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