2023 Mid-Session Highlights

April 21, 2023



NCEL Point of Contact

Taylor Anderson
Communications Director


To celebrate Earth Day, NCEL is taking a look at some of the successful environmental policies that states have passed so far this year. 

This year is the start of a new legislative biennium for states meaning that all states are in session. These “long sessions” are ripe for big movement on issues such as climate change, ensuring a just transition, protecting land, water, and biodiversity, increasing outdoor engagement, reducing plastic pollution, and restricting toxic chemicals.

  • Snapshot of State Sessions: 15 states have concluded their legislative sessions.

Below are some of the successful bills that have passed to date in a few of the major policy areas that were highlighted in that session preview.

Jump To:

Utility and Grids | Electric Vehicles | Building Decarbonization | Land and Water Conservation | Biodiversity | Outdoor Engagement | Plastic Pollution | Toxic Chemicals | Offshore Wind

However, states have passed a variety of innovative bills outside these major areas. A few examples are included below:

  • Minnesota enacted HF7, a 100% clean energy bill.
  • Maryland passed H.B.0009/S.B.0019 requiring that equity be considered when the state’s transportation plans, reports, and goals are developed.
  • Illinois’ House passed H.B.2487 which would establish the Justice40 Oversight Committee.

Climate and Energy 

Utility and Grid Policy

Ensuring strong utility policy centered on decarbonization is crucial to addressing the climate crisis as so much of reducing greenhouse gasses requires electrifying other sectors, like transportation and buildings. To date, 26 states have introduced 80 pieces of legislation around utilities and the grid.

Passed Legislation

  • Indiana H.B.1007 – Provides that it is the continuing policy of the state that decisions concerning Indiana’s electric generation resource mix must take into account the following attributes of electric utility service: (1) Reliability. (2) Affordability. (3) Resiliency. (4) Stability. (5) Environmental sustainability.
  • Maryland H.B.0692/S.B.0489 – Requires expedited processing of any local permit for transmission lines.
  • Virginia H.B. 1604/S.B. 1321 – Provides, that in any proceeding to establish base rates for Appalachian Electric Power or Dominion Energy Virginia conducted by the State Corporation Commission (the Commission), if the Commission determines in its sole discretion that the utility’s existing base rates will either produce revenues in excess or below the utility’s authorized rate of return, then the Commission is required to order any reductions or increases to such base rates that it deems appropriate to ensure the resulting base rates are just and reasonable 
  • Washington S.B. 5165 – Requires transmission planning to utility planning process


Electric Vehicles

States are continuing to work on policies promoting EV adoption and building out charging infrastructure. To date, 35 states have introduced 246 pieces of legislation promoting and aiding in adopting electric vehicles.

Passed Legislation

  • Hawaii S.B.1534 – Creates a mileage-based road usage charge to replace state motor fuel taxes beginning on 7/1/2025, for electric vehicles; requires the department of transportation to plan for the deployment of a state mileage-based road user charge program by 2033.
  • Hawaii H.B.346 – Requires that new state facilities be designed to be electric vehicle charger-ready. Requires that 25% of parking stalls be electric vehicle charger-ready.
  • Hawaii S.B.1024: Establishes long-term goals for zero-emissions transportation in Hawaii and abroad to reduce and eliminate transportation emissions.
  • Maryland H.B.0230/S.B.0224 – Requires the Department of the Environment to adopt regulations on or before December 1, 2023, establishing requirements for the sale of new zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the State
  • Maryland H.B.0834 –  Requires the Public Service Commission to expand the EV Pilot Program to allow participating electric companies to install EV charging stations in multifamily dwellings in underserved communities.
  • Maryland H.B.0830 – Establishes and alters certain requirements related to the installation of equipment for the charging of electric vehicles during the construction or significant renovation of certain housing units or multifamily residential buildings.
  • Mississippi S.B. 2562 – Allows public and private partnerships to establish electric vehicle charging stations
  • New York S.1346 – Directs each state agency to prepare a state fleet decarbonization plan for purchase or lease of state agency vehicles.
  • New York S.1343 – An act to amend the state finance law, in relation to the purchase or lease of zero emission vehicles and charging or fueling infrastructure.
  • North Dakota H.B. 1310 – Prohibits condominiums from preventing electric vehicle charging stations
  • North Dakota S.B. 2063 – May accept any federal or other public or private funds for the administration of reimbursable electric vehicle charging grant programs.
  • Utah S.B.125 – Designates the ASPIRE Engineering Research Center at Utah State University as the lead research center for strategic planning for electrification of transportation infrastructure.
  • Washington S.B. 5144 – Beginning January 1, 2027, each  producer selling batteries  or  battery-containing products in or into the state of Washington shall participate in  an approved Washington state battery stewardship plan.


Building Decarbonization

Many states that are leading on climate action view building emissions as the next source to address. Supported by IRA funding and tax credits, states are looking at building performance standards, excluding methane gas from new construction, and incentives for heat pumps and electric appliances. To date, 24 states have introduced 154 pieces of legislation to decarbonize buildings through building standards, renewable standards, weatherization, or other methods.

Passed Legislation

  • Colorado HB23-1134 – Requires every home warranty service contract include terms allowing the homeowner to replace the gas-fueled appliance with a similar device of the homeowner’s choosing that operates on electricity rather than gas, etc
  • DC B24-0785 – Requires construction of new or substantially improved buildings that the District government owns adhere to net zero energy standards and not incorporate fossil fuel consumption.
  • Hawaii S.B.1417 – Requires the Hawaii Community Development Authority to consider the impacts of climate change, sea level rise, and climate-resilient development in the design and siting of buildings in the Kaka‘ako and Kalaeloa community development districts.
  • Hawaii SB 691 – Allows the chief energy officer of the Hawaii state energy office to enforce minimum efficiency standards and adopt or amend efficiency standards. Sets minimum efficiency standards for portable electric spas, residential ventilating fans, toilets, urinals, and water coolers.
  • Hawaii SB 781 – Requires government entities in the State that issue building permits to implement SolarAPP+ or a functionally equivalent online automated permitting platform that verifies code compliance and issues permits to licensed contractors for solar distributed energy resource systems in real time by 1/1/2024.
  • Maryland HB 0169 – Requiring the Department of Housing and Community Development to procure or provide for electricity customers energy efficiency and conservation programs and services designed to achieve certain target annual incremental gross energy savings for the 2024-2026 program cycle
  • Utah  H.B.217 – Implements a program to reduce the use of energy or water by a school district.
  • Washington HB 1390 – Requires owners of state campus district energy systems to develop a decarbonization plan by June 2024, and provide their final plan to the Department of Commerce for approval by June 2025, and every five years thereafter. 



Land and Water Conservation

 States are continuing to lead land and water conservation efforts through 30×30 goals and ensuring habitat connectivity. To date, 5 states are considering 8 pieces of legislation to achieve 30% land and water conservation by 2030. In addition, 15 states are considering 21 pieces of legislation to increase habitat connectivity.

Passed Legislation

  • 30×30 Bills:
      • Maryland S.B. 0470 – Establishes the Local Land Trust Revolving Loan Program to provide loans to certain land trusts to purchase land for conservation purposes. Also establishes the Land Preservation Rapid Response Advisory Committee to review loan applications and make recommendations on which projects to fund. Establishes 30×30 and 40×40 goals.
      • New York S. 2222 – Requires the Department of Environmental Conservation to post draft strategies and methodology developed to meet the state’s 30×30 goal on the Department’s website. The Dept should include opportunities for public comment as it relates to setting conservation goals that include efforts to combat the biodiversity and climate crisis in NY’s land acquisition policy. 
  • Habitat Connectivity Bills:
    • New Mexico S.B. 72 – Creates the Wildlife Corridors Fund for implementation of wildlife crossing projects according to the New Mexico Wildlife Corridor Action Plan. $5 million is committed to SB 72 in the state budget proposal. 
    • Utah S.B. 3 – Allocates $20 million to the Department of Transportation to match federal discretionary grant funds awarded to the department to construct wildlife mitigation projects. 
    • Wyoming S.F.0106 – Established an account for natural resource conservation and wildlife projects. This year’s large-project bill includes nine projects for the purposes of supporting wildlife highway crossings, conservation easements, river and fish passage restoration and wild horse removal for rangeland improvement.


Biodiversity Protection

The United States is one of the only countries in the world without a national biodiversity strategy. In 2022, legislators urged the Biden Administration to create one. In addition to urging federal action, many states are also considering their own bills to protect biodiversity.  To date, 4 states have introduced 5 pieces of legislation to protect biodiversity. There are also 32 states considering 145 bills protecting habitats and species.

Passed Legislation

  • Massachusetts passed a biodiversity ceremonial resolution.
  • New Hampshire SB 164 (passed House) – This bill defines “biodiversity”as a public good and requires its inclusion in the land and community heritage investment program.


Outdoor Engagement

Spending time outdoors has proven mental and physical health benefits, and states are recognizing this by promoting outdoor engagement and recreation for the public.To date, 36 states are considering 150 pieces of legislation.

Passed Legislation

  • Arkansas SB 464 – establishes the Natural State Initiative Pilot Program, aimed at growing AR’s outdoor recreation industry and the economic impact of outdoor infrastructure investment, and recruiting new outdoor recreation businesses to Arkansas.
  • Florida CS/SB 106 – allocates $200 million to extend the Florida Shared Use Non Motorized Trail Network to/along the state wildlife corridor.
  • Maryland SB 327 – would establish an outreach and education program fostering interest in outdoor recreation, field sports, stewardship, and wildlife conservation
  • New Mexico SB 9 – establishes permanent and legacy funds aimed at conserving and expanding access to the state’s most important natural, cultural, and historical resources.
  • New Mexico SB 464 – extends outdoor recreation tourism liability protections to  agritourism.
  • New Mexico SB 392 – establishes educational game and fish youth programs funded by optional donations during purchases from the  department of game and fish.
  • North Carolina SB 100/HB 124 – would authorize building an 80-mile paddle, hiking, and multi-use Haw River Trail.
  • Utah HB 224 – enacts an Outdoor Recreation Initiative to assess, set criteria, and distribute funding to modernize, improve, and expand outdoor recreation infrastructure
  • Virginia HB 1388/SB 915 – provides free state parks parking & entry to National Guard soldiers.
  • Washington SB 5257 – would require schools to provide a minimum of 30 minutes of daily recess, directs schools to provide outdoor recess when possible, and improves health, nutrition, and fitness education.
  • Wyoming HB 74 – enacts a $6 million perpetual trust fund for outdoor recreation and outdoor tourism.


Environmental Health

Plastic Pollution

To date, 23 states have introduced 114 pieces of legislation to address plastic pollution specifically around EPR, polystyrene bans, truth in labeling, single-use plastic bans or fees, and bottle bills.

Passed Legislation

  • Maryland SB 0222 – Requires producers of certain packaging materials to individually or as part of a producer responsibility organization submit a producer responsibility plan to the Department of the Environment for review and approval in accordance with certain requirements
  • Washington HB 1085 – ​​Requires water refill stations, ban foam-filled docks, and reduce single use plastic body products in hotels.


Toxic Chemicals

States continue to pursue limits and regulations on PFAS chemicals to address their threat to drinking water, food, firefighters, and farmland. To date, 34 states are considering 185 pieces of legislation to ban or limit the use of PFAS. 

Passed Legislation

While 10 states have passed 14 pieces of legislation, below are a few examples.

  • Indiana HB 1219Establishes the PFAS biomonitoring pilot program under the department of homeland security to collect and analyze blood samples of individuals who were previously, or are currently, firefighters.
  • Maryland HB 319 – Requires the Department of Agriculture to study the use of PFAS in pesticides in the State.
  • New York S 1322 – Prohibits the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances in apparel and outdoor apparel for severe wet conditions
  • Virginia HB 2189 – Directs the State Water Control Board to adopt regulations that require any industrial user of publicly owned treatment works that receive and clean, repair, refurbish, or process items that the industrial user knows or reasonably should know use PFAS chemicals to test wastestreams for PFAS prior to and after cleaning, repairing, refurbishing, or processing such items. Requires test results  to be transmitted to the receiving publicly owned treatment works within three days of receipt of the test results.
  • Washington HB 1047Beginning January 1, 2025, no person may manufacture, knowingly sell, offer for sale, distribute for sale, or distribute for use in this state any cosmetic product that contains any of the following intentionally added chemicals or chemical classes: ortho-phthalates, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, formaldehyde, mercury, triclosan.
  • West Virginia HB 1389 – Requires the DEP to identify and address PFAS sources impacting public water systems; requires facilities that have recently used PFAS chemicals to report their use to DEP, requires permits to be updated to require monitoring of PFAS chemicals for facilities that report their use; and requires DEP to propose rules to adopt water quality criteria for certain PFAS chemicals after they are finalized by the USEPA.



Offshore Wind

In 2022, state legislators introduced nearly 30 bills across 10 states related to offshore wind. The passage of the IRA bolstered offshore wind development with now 12 states considering 42 pieces of legislation aimed at increasing offshore wind.

Passed Legislation

  • Maryland SB 0781 – Sets a goal for the state to generate 8.5 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2031. Requires an application for any new qualified offshore wind project and a proposal for an offshore wind transmission facility to be subject to a community benefit agreement; requires the Public Service Commission to request that PJM Interconnection conduct an analysis of transmission system expansion options.
  • Maryland SB 0334 – Altering to July 1, 2025, the termination date for certain provisions of law governing the Minority Business Enterprise Program and its application to offshore wind projects.
  • Virginia SB 1441 – Improves Virginia’s transition to offshore wind by increasing consideration of offshore wind’s economic potential, emphasizing local economic benefits and ensuring sustainability. The bill also accelerates the timeline from 2034 to 2032 for public utilities to construct or purchase one or more offshore wind generation facilities. 
  • Virginia SB 1477Authorizes Dominion Energy Virginia, in connection with certain offshore wind projects, to establish an offshore wind affiliate, defined in the bill, for the purpose of securing a noncontrolling equity financing partner for the project.