26 06, 2014

Report shows hazardous chemicals still in children’s products

June 26th, 2014|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Following the release of a report by the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) on the presence of toxic chemicals in children’s products, Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, is calling for renewed attention to the dangers of poisonous chemicals in household goods.

“The report released today once again proves the inability of chemical companies to put people before profit,” Nelson said. “Ecology evaluates products and chemicals based on evidence and science – not profits and bottom lines. They already use these proven methods to develop the list of chemicals of high concern to children; they now need the authority to act on what we know is in the best interest of the health of Washington families.”

The report by DOE follows the testing of 125 children’s and consumer products, including seat cushions, mattresses, upholstered furniture for children, electronics, clothing and baby carriers. The results showed some manufacturers continue to replace banned toxic flame retardant chemicals – known to cause hormone disruption and developmental complications – with other products that are unregulated and “potentially toxic,” according to the DOE .

Eight samples from children’s products actually contained flame retardants above the reporting limit for chemicals that have been banned.

Including Nelson’s Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act, several attempts have been made in the Legislature in recent years to allow the DOE to ban chemicals from products as they are found to be hazardous. Despite wide bipartisan support, every effort to grant this authority has been blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate.

“Toxic chemicals in our homes and nurseries is not a problem for the future – it is a deadly reality now,” Nelson added. “I am sad to say 2014 was another lost year when it comes to passing common-sense legislation, and every delay only prolongs this legacy of contamination we leave for our children, our firefighters and our environment.”

To learn more about the fight against toxics in Washington, click here.

To view the database of manufacturers’ reports, click here.

To join the children’s safe products email list, click here.

23 06, 2014

Sens. Ranker, Rolfes call for full disclosure of ALL shipments of volatile Bakken crude

June 23rd, 2014|Uncategorized|

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, and Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, sent a letter to the heads of two major American railroad companies as well as U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx requesting comprehensive reports of ALL shipments of volatile Bakken crude oil anticipated to be transported through Washington state be made available to first responders and impacted communities.

The letter follows a recent decision by US transportation officials that requires rail companies to disclose shipments of a million gallons or more of Bakken crude.

“That’s a start, but it doesn’t go far enough,” Ranker said. “Disaster after disaster has shown us that safeguards must be put in place so that if the worst-case scenario does come to pass, our first responders are ready to act.”

The letter urges the USDOT to lower the threshold from a million gallons, stating that, “shipments on a train of any less than about 35 rail tank cars need not be included, yet several recent derailments and spills and/or explosions of crude oil involved fewer tank cars while causing considerable damage.

“An incident involving release and ignition of Bakken crude from even one rail car could potentially cause the loss of life and severe damage in some of our densely populated communities…”

In fact more oil has been spilled from trains in 2013 than in the previous 37 years combined.

“These trains run through the heart of our communities,” Rolfes said. “Public safety is one of the top priorities of state government and recent derailments and disasters throughout the U.S. are a constant reminder that oil trains are a very real threat to the public good.”

Click here to read the letter in its entirety.

17 06, 2014

June revenue forecast shows increase in general fund revenue

June 17th, 2014|Uncategorized|

The June revenue forecast, released Tuesday, shows an increase of $157 million in general fund revenue for the current biennium and projects a $238 million increase in the next.

During the next session, the Legislature will have many potentially costly issues to address, including fully funding K-12 education.

12 06, 2014

Lawmakers to focus on oil transport safety at Spokane hearing

June 12th, 2014|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – The Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee will meet in Spokane on June 17 to discuss oil transportation safety.

The hearing will take place at Spokane City Council chambers at 10:30 a.m. and include public testimony on Senate Bill 6582.

Washington state has seen an enormous increase of oil moving by rail and water in recent years, including volatile crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota, Montana and parts of Canada. State estimates show crude oil shipments by rail increased from zero in 2011 to 17 million barrels in 2013. The stark increase presents communities with a new risk for accidents and spills like recent derailments – including one in Quebec last year that killed 47 people.

In the early days of the 2014 legislative session, Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, introduced the Oil Transportation Safety Act to provide common-sense measures to protect our communities. The chair of the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee refused to give the bill a hearing.

(See timeline of legislative efforts to improve oil transportation safety).

“Here we are, nearly six months later, and people are still waiting for the right to know what is being moved through their towns, cities and waterways,” said Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, the ranking member on the committee. “If the chair had taken action, new regulations would be in place now and communities would know that safety standards are being updated to meet changing conditions.”

Last month, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued an emergency order requiring railroads to notify state officials about the volume, frequency and routes of trains carrying large amounts of crude oil, but two railroad companies are trying to prevent the public from receiving those details.

“I’m pleased the people in Eastern Washington will have the opportunity to be heard,” said Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane. “The public has every right to know the amount and types of oil traveling through their city. Transparency is an important first step towards keeping our communities safe. “


5 06, 2014

Kohl-Welles releases statement following Seattle Pacific University shooting

June 5th, 2014|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, released this statement following news of a shooting this afternoon at Seattle Pacific University in Queen Anne.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families, students and staff at Seattle Pacific University. Of course we don’t have a lot of information right now, but it is appalling yet another shooting has taken place, and shocking it has happened in our neighborhood.

“I commend the first responders who are at the scene and have taken care of the victims and students, and thank the law enforcement who quickly apprehended the suspect. People come to the city of Seattle and the 36th District for the strong sense of community, and I trust this will get us through such a horrific event.”

Sen. Kohl-Welles is the state senator from the 36th District, which encompasses Ballard, Greenwood, Queen Anne, Magnolia, Interbay, Belltown, and parts of Phinney Ridge and Fremont.