I've become Senate Chair of the Committee on Utilities & Energy, and my duties have expanded in an unexpected way. As President Trump backs the federal government out of international relations and international relationships, state officials, me included, are finding ourselves drawn in.
Nowhere is this truer than in worldwide efforts to combat climate change. Last month I was asked to address a World Climate Summit in Morocco, where I discussed a bill I've filed to create a purely voluntary way, at zero expense to the state treasury, for Massachusetts residents to help poor countries deal with rising ocean levels, expanding deserts, and increasingly erratic weather.
This was not a purely academic discussion. U.K. Professor Benito Muller, founder of Oxford Climate Policy and my host and inviter, hopes that other "subnational" jurisdictions -- state, provincial, and city governments -- in better-off countries might be inspired to give their citizens similar options.
"An Act enabling taxpayer donations to the Least Developed Countries Fund," Senate bill 2056, would add a new "check-off" option to Massachusetts personal income tax forms, to allow individuals to voluntarily donate to a United Nations fund set up to aid developing nations beset by climate change.
Mass. taxpayers already donate $1 million-plus annually, via six existing check-offs, to help cover the travel of Massachusetts-based Olympians, advance Homeless Animal Prevention and Care, and support other good causes.
Every year for as long as I can remember, I've used my own state income tax form to give $1 dollar, over and above my state tax payments, to each of the current six options. This new seventh option would have distinctive dimensions: it would be the first to directly address climate change, and the first to express friendship with poor countries at a time when the federal government is gripped by isolationist fervor.
S.2056 has been referred to the Joint Committee on Revenue. I'm hoping for a Committee recommendation in favor of passage, after which it will head to the Senate floor for debate. I welcome your thoughts.