Monthly Archives: May 2015

  • Permalink Gallery

    Ranker: New ferry a great start toward meeting the needs of our community

Ranker: New ferry a great start toward meeting the needs of our community

May 20th, 2015|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, released the statement below in recognition of today’s christening of M/V Samish, a 144-vehicle ferry, to the state’s fleet. In 2011, as a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, Ranker developed a plan to create a 25 surcharge (SB 5742) to build the Samish. Part of that agreement was to dedicate the ferry created by that surcharge to serve the San Juan Islands:

“This is a great day for our community and for anyone who depends on our ferry system to get to work and get back home and also for communities such as ours where ferries serve as critical a critical lifeline for our economy.

“For those of us who call the San Juan Islands home, the Puget Sound is our freeway. We must have more safe, up-to-date and reliable vessels. Today we do.

“It is incredible to see our efforts from years past secure the San Juan Islands their first new ferry in decades.

“To tell you the truth, it took a lot of work and a long time to get this bill through the Senate and to the Governor’s desk. Transportation is one of those hot-button issues and there are roads and bridges throughout the state are in dire need of an upgrade. Every dollar is critical, but Olympia now realizes the vital importance of our ferry system and the need for it to function at full capacity.

“Unfortunately, my responsibilities as a lead negotiator on the state’s operating budget have kept me in Olympia and will prevent me from being in attendance today when Washington State First Lady Trudi Inslee christens the vessel this afternoon. But I would like to thank her as well as my seatmates, Rep. Jeff Morris and Kris Lytton, for their tireless work to get this job done.”

  • Permalink Gallery

    Ranker’s bill to get kids outside, hire veterans and protect nearly 200,000 Washington jobs signed into law

Ranker’s bill to get kids outside, hire veterans and protect nearly 200,000 Washington jobs signed into law

May 13th, 2015|

With one of Washington’s 186 state parks as a backdrop, Governor Jay Inslee on Wednesday signed legislation at a rare off campus ceremony that will invest more than a million dollars toward the hiring of veterans and others to get more children outside while promoting Washington’s incredible outdoor recreation industry.

Senate Bill 5843 was signed into law at Tolmie State Park on the shores of Puget Sound during a special ceremony while dozens of school children, veterans and lawmakers looked on.

A study completed earlier this year revealed that $21.6 billion in economic activity is generated each year by outdoor recreation in Washington. The same report notes that across the state, with 199,000 direct jobs, there are more jobs in outdoor recreation than in either aerospace or the tech industry.

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, prime sponsor of the bill, said that even more needs to be done to foster economic activity and job growth. He said this bill is a big step in that direction.

“Our great outdoors are big business,” Ranker said. “But we can do even more to promote thousands of jobs that depend upon our beautiful rivers, mountains, forests and beaches. That’s what the modest investment in this bill is all about. There is a massive return on our investment in the outdoor industry and the protection and creation of outdoor opportunities.”

In addition to job creation, the bill also enhances Washingtonian’s access to natural surroundings, with a particular emphasis on outdoor education and recreation programming aimed at encouraging kids to begin enjoying our great outdoors at a young age.

“Our children are the future stewards of our environment,” Ranker said. “I sincerely hope this legislation teaches more children about the magic of getting outside and enjoying our world-class recreational opportunities.  Whether it’s learning to surf in Westport or learning to fly fish on the Yakima, teaching our children about our incredible outdoor experiences at an early age will help protect these recreational opportunities into the future while significantly decreasing health risk and obesity.”

The bill, which is cosponsored by Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, will invest $1 million in the “No Child Left Inside” program, which provides grants across the state that prioritize the hiring of veterans and promotes kids getting off the couch and into the great outdoors. The legislation also creates a senior policy advisor directly to the Governor to focus on outdoor recreation and the promotion of outdoor recreation and the jobs that depend upon it in Washington State.

The bill follows recommendations from Inslee’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation, on which Parlette and Ranker served.

  • Permalink Gallery

    Seattle Times Op-Ed: Kids plus the outdoors equals a good investment

Seattle Times Op-Ed: Kids plus the outdoors equals a good investment

May 12th, 2015|

The opinion piece below appeared in the Seattle Times on May 8. You can also read the article here.

By Ben Klasky
Joshua Brandon

FROM the snow-capped peak of Mount Rainier to the roaring waters of the Spokane River to the lush canopies of the Hoh Rain Forest, we Washingtonians have incredible outdoor experiences right at our doorsteps. This beautiful natural setting brings us many economic and educational benefits.

It’s also the underpinning of a unique opportunity to support Washington’s kids and economy that has brought Democrats and Republicans together in Olympia.

Both sides of the aisle in the state Legislature recently supported a measure known as “No Child Left Inside,” ESSB 5843, that will help get our kids off couches and into the great outdoors.

Now we’re hopeful the governor will soon sign it and that the $1.3 million investment it proposes will be supported in the state’s new operating budget.

No Child Left Inside would revitalize a grant program for outdoor education for kids — with emphasis on serving children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches and those at risk of not graduating high school. It would also prioritize funding for programs that serve military families or involve veterans in their operations.

As funding allows, it would allow the governor to hire a senior policy adviser to serve as a state outdoor-recreation leader — a job that would include promoting, increasing participation in and increasing opportunities for outdoor recreation.

The idea of elevating outdoor recreation to the level of education, health care and other major policy areas within the governor’s office came from the bipartisan Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation, which we both served on.

The Outdoor Industry Association estimates that outdoor recreation supports some 200,000 jobs in Washington. The many recreation opportunities in our state, from water sports to hiking trails, contribute more than $22 billion to the state’s economy annually, according to the association. We need a leader to work across state agencies to support the growth of this important industry.

We are all too aware that today’s children are spending less time outdoors than those of previous generations. While rates of childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes and attention-deficit disorders continue to climb, increased outdoor time is linked to better overall mental and physical health.

There’s no doubt that time spent outdoors is part of a healthier lifestyle. Research also shows that kids who spend time outdoors see increases in their test scores, especially in science.
No Child Left Inside promotes our education goals and our environment.

While there are partisan challenges in Olympia these days, this bill won big bipartisan support from the Legislature. We also know that Gov. Jay Inslee sees important opportunities here.
In a challenging budget season, this relatively small investment will yield significant dividends.

Grants from No Child Left Inside could benefit any number of organizations: outdoor-leadership programs for young girls, a new science-focused school in Darrington, programs that immerse families in outdoor learning.

Washington is a leader among states. Indeed, No Child Left Inside has inspired federal legislation of the same name precisely because governments at all levels understand that investing in outdoor opportunities for kids — opportunities that make them smarter, more active and well-rounded — benefits us all.

Inslee and our state legislators have seen the value of No Child Left Inside. Now we need their continued commitment to help bring this smart bill across the finish line by signing it and funding it.
We can’t let this legislative session pass without supporting student learning and Washington’s multibillion-dollar outdoor economy.

Ben Klasky is president and CEO of IslandWood, an outdoor learning center on Bainbridge Island. Joshua Brandon is an Army veteran and program manager at Project Rebirth, facilitating research-based therapeutic adventure to improve veterans’ mental-health care.