Mass Audubon Releases 2011-2012 Legislative Report Card

Release Date:
April 25, 2013

Massachusetts Senators and Representatives averaged an “A” grade on environmental votes for the 2011-2012 legislative session, according to Mass Audubon’s 26th annual Legislative Report Card. The average score in the House was 98 percent. The average score in the Senate was 97 percent.

The Legislative Report Card is a compilation of the roll call votes taken by state legislators on environmental bills or funding measures. Such a vote is the single objective measure to evaluate Massachusetts legislators on their environmental performance. A legislator’s score does not represent an endorsement, or lack thereof, by Mass Audubon.

In 2011-2012, the House voted on four environmental roll call votes (out of a total 375). The Senate also voted on four environmental roll call votes (out of a total 453). Although the number of environmental roll call votes was low compared to past sessions, a number of Mass Audubon priority bills passed. Critical votes were cast in the following areas:

  • Expansion of the Community Preservation Act
  • Better facilitation of solar and wind energy contracts
  • Allowing renewable energy sites to be built on closed landfills
  • Removal of outdated dams, resulting in improved water quality

Several significant environmental bills also passed during informal sessions, including one that regulates phosphorus in fertilizers to reduce harmful algae blooms. On the other side of the spectrum, a bill that threatened to gut the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act was not passed.

“This report card demonstrates that Massachusetts lawmakers are committed to protecting the nature of the Commonwealth,” said Karen Heymann, Mass Audubon’s legislative director. “Mass Audubon looks forward to continuing to work with the legislature to implement strong environmental policy through land conservation, renewable energy programs, and endangered species protection.”

“Mass Audubon congratulates the legislature on passing important environmental legislation regarding Community Preservation and stopping a repeal of the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act last session,” added Jack Clarke, Mass Audubon’s director of public policy and government relations. “This year, we look forward to working with the legislature on again stopping the state Endangered Species Act repeal and moving forward a common-sense reform of that important law.”

Since 1985, Mass Audubon has compiled the environmental voting records of the Massachusetts Legislature to inform citizens of their state legislators’ performance. The Legislative Report Card is a compilation of the roll call votes by state legislators on environmental bills or budget items. It is not a personal evaluation of legislators. 

Legislators received one point for voting in favor of environmental protection, and zero points for voting against environmental protection or for not voting at all. The scores of individual legislators are calculated by dividing the total points a legislator earned by the maximum possible score. An individual legislator’s score may fluctuate from year to year, subject to the nature of the issues before the legislature, political dynamics, or absences due to illnesses or personal commitments, among other variables.

Surveying a legislator’s scores over the course of his/her tenure in office may produce a more comprehensive view of his/her commitment to environmental protection. Download copies of all Legislative Report Cards

Read Mass Audubon’s state legislative priorities.

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Mass Audubon is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change. With the help of our 140,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at www.massaudubon.org.