Resolved, SECTION 1. The commission for climate refugees is hereby established to evaluate the
commonwealth’s coordination with municipalities, school districts, and between departments and agencies of the commonwealth, upon the influx of displaced persons from Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria and to advise the general court on how to better prepare for the influx and welfare of climate change refugees. “Climate change refugees” shall be defined as individuals who have to leave their domicile due to either sudden on-set disasters or slow on-set degradation of their natural environments related to at least one of the following impacts of climate change: flooding, extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and droughts.
SECTION 2. The commission shall consist of up to eleven members, including a chair. The secretary of the department of health and human services or their designee, the undersecretary of the department of housing and community development or their designee, the director of the Massachusetts emergency management agency or their designee, and the commissioner of the department of children and families shall each serve as members on the commission ex officio.
Each of the remaining seven members shall be appointed by the governor and shall include three members all of whom are superintendents of school districts in municipalities that enrolled climate refugees from Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. The remaining four members shall have expertise in one or more of the following areas: public and affordable housing, federal immigration law and regulation, and emergency management. Each member, including the chair, shall serve without compensation and in an advisory capacity until the report referenced in section six is delivered, whereupon the commission shall disband.
SECTION 3. The commission shall, at a minimum, investigate the following topics: (i) the commonwealth’s coordination and efforts following Hurricane Maria to provide, or assist climate refugees in obtaining, adequate housing, healthcare, education, and workforce development training; (ii) which department or agency of the commonwealth should be designated with oversight authority over the coordination and provision of housing, healthcare, education, and workforce development to climate change refugees; (iii) sources of funding for housing, healthcare, education, and workforce development of climate change refugees; (iv) enrollment of climate change refugees in primary and secondary school; (v) identify existing legal and regulatory barriers to establishing a lead department or agency and developing a policy for the commonwealth’s intake of climate change refugees, taking into consideration existing federal immigration laws and regulations, affordable and public housing laws and regulations, and existing laws and regulations governing public education, healthcare, and welfare benefits, including proposed changes to existing laws and regulations.
SECTION 4. The commission may create committees and working groups to inform the commission’s investigation of the topics referenced in section three. The commission, its committees and its working groups may procure services, including consulting services, and otherwise involve experts, stakeholders, and members of the public.
SECTION 5. The commission shall be supported by staff from the department of health and human services.
SECTION 6. The commission shall provide its report and recommendations to the joint committee on public health of the general court on the first anniversary of the date on which the ninth member has been appointed to the commission.
SECTION 7. This resolve shall take effect upon its passage.
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