Monthly Archives: January 2015

Ranker: We can end AIDS in our lifetime

January 29th, 2015|

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, on Thursday told a group of more than 100 activists in Olympia for AIDS Action and Awareness Day that eliminating the terrible disease can be done in our lifetime.

“Eliminating AIDS and the stigma associated with it is one of the most important issues facing us as lawmakers and as human beings,” Ranker later said. “I believe that no person should have to experience what so many of our friends and family have experienced with this deadly disease over the years. The science exists, the funding must follow.”

According to AIDS.gov, more than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with AIDS and nearly one in seven are unaware they are affected. Worldwide, 35 million people are living with HIV/AIDS.

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    Sens. Ranker, Habib throw support behind the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy

Sens. Ranker, Habib throw support behind the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy

January 28th, 2015|

State Senators Kevin Ranker and Cyrus Habib today welcomed the formation of the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, a broad coalition of business, labor, community and environmental groups formed to support statewide efforts to reduce carbon pollution and address global warming.

The Alliance was announced today, hours before climate legislation, identical to a Senate version sponsored by Senator Ranker, was heard in the State House Environment Committee.  The legislation is co-sponsored by Senator Habib.

“It’s exciting that this strong, broad coalition is joining the effort to pass meaningful, effective legislation that makes polluters pay,” Ranker said. “People from all walks of life, from every community, are demanding action and now their voices can be amplified by these efforts.  Regardless of the final legislative package, it is critical that we get this done.”

“For too long climate change has been seen as an exclusively environmental issue, but in reality it also affects our economy, quality of life and communities all over our state—especially people of color and lower income families,” Habib said. “I look forward to working with the Alliance as we build momentum in Olympia for legislative action.”

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    Ranker: Anyone working for Washington should comply with state’s anti-discrimination laws

Ranker: Anyone working for Washington should comply with state’s anti-discrimination laws

January 22nd, 2015|

State agencies must consider certain requirements before public works contractors can earn contracts to work on projects important to Washingtonians.

Under a bill sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, those same contractors would also need to share taxpayer values in order to earn taxpayer dollars.

Senate Bill 5462 would require agencies to make sure contractors are in compliance with state and federal anti-discrimination laws. If a bidder is found to not be in compliance with these laws, agency directors will no longer consider them for these contracts for no more than three years.

“Washington’s history of tolerance is a source of pride,” Ranker said. “We should hold those with whom our state does business and those who we pay with taxpayer dollars to the same high standard. I hope this will encourage those who do not respect the rights of all Washingtonians to change their ways.”

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    Carbon Pollution Accountability Act a “huge piece of the puzzle”

Carbon Pollution Accountability Act a “huge piece of the puzzle”

January 19th, 2015|

Bills introduced by Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien) on Friday will require the state’s major polluters to pay for producing carbon pollution.

“This bill is a huge piece of the puzzle,” Ranker said of SB 5283. “This not only addresses the need to protect our communities and children’s future, it also helps us meet our constitutional and moral obligation to Washington’s one million school kids and will help address the needs of our failing roads and bridges. We must take action immediately.”

Over 70 governments across the globe, as well as dozens of jurisdictions and thousands of corporations have put a price on carbon as a way to decrease its abundancy in the environment. In Washington, however, polluters currently pay nothing.

“The longer we wait to address global climate change, the more expensive it becomes,“ said Fitzgibbon sponsor of HB 1314. “The 130 biggest greenhouse gas emitters in our state have avoided paying the costs of carbon pollution for years. These large corporations can afford to pay the public for the right to pollute our air. If we do not take immediate action to reduce the carbon emitted into our atmosphere, we are continuing to put our economy, the health of our kids and families, and our environment at risk.”

If passed into law, money collected from polluters would go toward funding basic education and transportation projects throughout the state.

“I want to thank Sen. Ranker, Rep. Fitzgibbon, and the other lawmakers who are championing the Carbon Pollution Accountability Act,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “The great number of supporters in both chambers is an exciting reflection of the growing list of diverse voices across Washington demanding climate action. From our public health leaders to communities of color, from labor to business, the call is loud and clear.”

The bill would cover an estimated 130 facilities and fuel distributors operating in the state. Sources that emit more than 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases per year will be subject to the fee. The bill excludes agriculture and waste management, as well as all emissions from biofuels and biomass.

“This plan will put us back on track to meet our 2020 goal of lowering greenhouse gas emissions in our state as well as reinforce Washington’s place as a leader in the fight against climate change,” Ranker said. “I am honored to lead this charge with Governor Inslee, Rep. Fitzgibbon, and my colleagues in both chambers.”

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    Senate Democrats introduce bill to address oil transportation safety

Senate Democrats introduce bill to address oil transportation safety

January 15th, 2015|

OLYMPIA – In the first week of the 2015 legislative session, Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, and Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, introduced Governor Jay Inslee’s request oil transportation legislation to the state Senate (SB 5087).

“Unprecedented amounts of oil are traveling along the rails of Washington state, through our rural areas and downtowns and along our coastlines,” Rolfes said. “Right now, it is impacted communities and the taxpayers of Washington who bear all of the risk and responsibility in the event of an accident. This legislation simply shifts some of the burden of spill prevention and response onto those that profit from oil transportation.”

How to address increasing oil transportation has been an ongoing debate in Washington and across North America in recent years. North Dakota and the Bakken region of Canada are experiencing an oil boom, and spills and explosions have followed as a result of substandard rail cars and flagging regulation and industry oversight. Roughly sixty-million gallons of volatile crude oil passes through Washington every week, and over a million gallons of crude oil was spilled from trains in North America in 2013, more than the previous 30 years combined. Numerous explosions also occurred, including the explosion in Quebec that killed 47 people.

“For the safety and health of our communities, it’s imperative we give first responders all the information they need to best prepare themselves to respond and contain a spill or derailment to prevent a worst case scenario,” Ranker said. “We will not sit idly by and let a city in Washington join the list of those devastated by an oil train fire or vessel spill.”

Although the federal government alone has the authority to impose many safety measures, states do have control over some key aspects related to transparency, accountability and taxation. A study was conducted in 2014 to evaluate the risks associated with the vast increase of oil transported by rail through Washington, with many of the recommendations included in this bill. The final report is due in March.

“Transparency and safety need to be the focus of our efforts here in Olympia,” Energy, Environment & Telecommunications committee ranking Democrat Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, said. “We can’t put the interests of the oil industry over the safety of our impacted communities.”

“This is not a theoretical problem. We know derailments and oil spills will happen,” Rolfes added. “For the safety of our communities and economy, as well as the preservation of our environment, we need to pass this bill.”

The bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

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    Sen. Ranker’s push for outdoor recreation study reveals $21 billion annual impact on state’s economy

Sen. Ranker’s push for outdoor recreation study reveals $21 billion annual impact on state’s economy

January 8th, 2015|

Washington’s outdoor recreation industry is big business, but until now it was unclear just how big.

A study released today and created through legislation pushed by Sen. Kevin Ranker revealed that outdoor recreation in Washington generates $21.6 billion annually in spending on trips and equipment. The study, conducted by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, also revealed that nearly 200,000 direct and indirect jobs are supported by outdoor recreation in Washington. Further, many of these jobs are located in rural areas of Washington where the impacts of the recession are still being felt.

“It’s no secret that we live in the most beautiful state in the union and that Washington’s natural splendor is an enormous economic generator. Until now, however, we didn’t fully understand just how powerful an economic force outdoor recreation is. We must not only continue to invest in the protection of our great outdoors, we must support and invest the hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend up it.”

Additional highlights of the study include:

  • $10.4 billion is spent on sightseeing and nature activities including $7 billion on wildlife watching and photography.
  • $8 billion is spent on activities around water, including fishing, boating, swimming and diving.
  • Out-of-state visitors account for 12 percent of recreation days, but 27 percent of dollars spent on outdoor recreation. They contribute $4.6 billion to Washington’s economy. For every dollar they spend, $1.36 is generated.

“From our magnificent coast, to the snow-capped peaks of the Cascades, to the rolling hills of the Palouse – people choose to live in Washington because of our iconic places.” said Mike Stevens, the Washington state director for The Nature Conservancy. “Thanks to Senator Ranker’s leadership, we now have a study that confirms there’s measurable economic value in nature. Washington is home to world-class businesses that can attract top-level talent because this is where people want to work and want to play.”

The study is the first comprehensive analysis of Washington’s outdoor recreation industry. It was prepared for the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office by Tacoma-based Earth Economics.

You can view the entire study here.