Monthly Archives: January 2018

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    Ranker: Senate Democrats finally pass significant policy to ensure equality of access to women’s reproductive healthcare

Ranker: Senate Democrats finally pass significant policy to ensure equality of access to women’s reproductive healthcare

January 31st, 2018|

OLYMPIA — After years of Republican delay, the Senate Democrats passed this long-awaited bill to expand and protect reproductive healthcare coverage for women. Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, a co-sponsor of the Reproductive Parity Act (SB 6219) released this statement after Senate Democratic Majority finally passed this priority bill:

“With the federal administration attacking at every turn and rolling back coverage of women’s healthcare and family planning, it is essential that we ensure all women can access the health coverage that fits their needs. Women deserve the ability to make their own health choices and I am proud to stand with my colleagues and all Washington women today as we pass this bill. Everyone has the same right to determine the best care for themselves and their families. It is up to all of us to support this right together.”

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    Senate Democrats condemn net pen operations after release of operational failure report

Senate Democrats condemn net pen operations after release of operational failure report

January 30th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – Senate Democrats responded today after three state agencies overseeing the 2017 Cypress Island Atlantic Salmon Net Pen Failure released a report today highlighting insufficient cleaning, breakdowns in equipment and mooring, missed opportunity to adequately repair and recover the operations, and numerous incorrect statements from the corporation regarding the severity of the disaster.

“This sort of negligent, untruthful behavior is unacceptable for any corporation in Washington state,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island. “Especially, a company that can have such dire consequences to our environment and our economy when things go wrong. I am disappointed with the lack of inspection and follow through by the department of natural resources.”

“There was opportunity over the summer to respond to issues at the facility, but that did not occur,” said Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds. “Common sense should have come into play, and the facility should have taken steps to avoid this catastrophic failure that put the health of the Puget Sound at risk.”

“Clean nets are Netpens 101,” said Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim. “If this company was failing at the most basic, most obvious level of maintenance, then it gives me pause about their commitment to running this kind of operation.”

“This report confirms much of what we learned last summer – our public waters were compromised by a company that failed to protect the Puget Sound ecosystem and by state agencies that did not provide proper oversight,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island. “Our state’s natural resources are too fragile to withstand this level of carelessness.”

Senate Democrats Delivering on Our Promises!

January 26th, 2018|

Friends,

Senate Democrats continue to strengthen the #bluewall, advancing critical legislation that reflects our progressive values. In only three weeks, we’ve introduced and advanced internet privacy, net neutrality, climate action, protecting the Salish Sea, protecting LGBTQ seniors from discrimination, Equal Pay Act, Reproductive Parity Act, blocking the Hobby Lobby decision in Washington, and the Reproductive Healthcare for All Act.
The Senate has already passed the Voting Rights Act, campaign finance reform, same-day voter registration, ending credit card freeze fees, capital budget, ban on conversion therapy, ending transgender bullying in schools, and breakfast after the bell.

And we’re just getting started.

Earlier this week, we made absolutely sure that every student — no matter who you are or when you came to this country — has access to college and the opportunity to succeed.

DACA students have come to be known as “Dreamers,” after the DREAM Act, a Congressional bill that would make them Americans on paper under federal law but has so far failed to pass federal legislation. The federal government may think these members of our community have an expiration date, but Washington state will stand with DREAMers. The Senate voted Wednesday to expand financial aid opportunities for DREAMers in Washington state’s higher education system, fulfilling a promise of the Washington state DREAM Act from 2014. I was honored to stand with them to hear their stories and see how successful we can be when everyone has an opportunity.

 

Last week, we finished the capital budget after nearly a year delay. Projects that have been on hold or worried about funding can get back on track. This budget invests in our children with new classrooms, provides for homeless youth and affordable housing, and funds paychecks for more than 19,000 workers across the state.

 

I am excited to announce that this budget finally and permanently protects the Harriet Spanel State Forest, also known as Blanchard Mountain.

This week the Senate Energy, Environment and Technology Committee heard SB 6269, to improve Washington state’s oil spill protection to enhance our emergency teams, coordinate with Canada on cross-border management and hold companies responsible to protect our Salish Sea. Watch my testimony here:

As Senate Democrats, we are coming together to govern for the people in our communities. We will be motivated by kindness, and we will protect and respect every single Washingtonian and their fundamental human rights.

Know that it remains an incredible honor to continue to represent you in the Washington State Senate.

Please do not hesitate to call or email me with any questions you may have or issues you wish to discuss.

All the best,

Kevin Ranker

Senate votes to extend financial aid access for DREAMers

January 24th, 2018|

OLYMPIA— The state Senate voted Wednesday to expand financial aid opportunities for DREAMers in Washington’s higher education system.
“This bill fulfills a promise we made to DREAMers in 2014. Four years ago, we made the statement that all Washington kids ought to have the full range of educational opportunity that we offer in this state,” said Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, the bill’s prime sponsor. “But that bill left some gaps and this legislation is designed to fill them.”

“I cannot think of a more appropriate statement for this Senate to make at a time when the futures of thousands of young people in our state and across the country are up in the air. In Washington, we recognize their value as students and as leaders in the only country they have ever known. They deserve the full promise that our state and this country have to offer.”

These students currently have access to the State Need Grant and are able to pay in-state tuition at Washington’s colleges and universities. Senate Bill 5074 simply extends that standard, allowing DREAMers to apply for the College Bound Scholarship and the Higher Education Loan Program.
Senate Bill 5074 passed on a 38 to 11 vote, and now goes to the House for consideration.

“Every student in our state should have the opportunity to pursue their college dreams, regardless of their immigration status,” said Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, a bill cosponsor. “By expanding eligibility of this last-dollar scholarship, this bill finally fulfills the state’s promise to Washington’s dreamers. At a time when dreamers and their families face uncertainty from the federal government, we will keep working to ensure that they are supported here in Washington state— in our communities, schools, and institutions.”

In 2003, lawmakers approved a measure allowing eligible undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at Washington’s colleges and universities. They continued that work in 2014 with passage of the Real Hope Act, also known as the Washington Dream Act. That measure gave some DREAMers the opportunity to apply for the State Need Grant by including them in the definition of a resident student.

“We are fulfilling a promise today to make absolutely sure that every student — no matter who you are or when you came to this country — has access to college and the opportunity to succeed,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker, chair of the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee. “It is our moral obligation to support all children’s ability to access college, meaningful careers and full lives — improving themselves and the entire state.”

Since then, Senate Democrats have twice introduced versions of SB 5074 — but with Republicans controlling the Senate, the bills never had a chance to move forward. Now, under a Democratic majority, the Senate was able to move this legislation forward.

“As the federal government continues to upend the lives of DREAMers across the nation, we must continue to fight for justice at home,” said Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Beacon Hill, a bill cosponsor. “These young people deserve stability, respect, and the opportunity to better themselves through education. We know that eliminating barriers to higher-education can provide a young person a chance at a better life. All Washingtonians deserve that opportunity, no matter what their immigration status is.”

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    Senate Democrats consider bills expanding access to healthcare while the federal government dismantles it

Senate Democrats consider bills expanding access to healthcare while the federal government dismantles it

January 22nd, 2018|

OLYMPIA — The Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee heard powerful testimony today from the public on two important bills to expand and protect healthcare for women: SB 6102, the Employee Reproductive Choice Act, and SB 6105, the Reproductive Health Access for All Act.

“It was a great pleasure to witness the change for my patients as the Affordable Care Act brought more people access to choose the right contraception for their healthcare,” said Dr. Deborah Oyer, a physician with Cedar River Clinics who testified in favor of the bills. “While the rest of the country is dismantling access to healthcare under the federal government, our state can champion healthcare for everyone.”

SB 6102 would prohibit employers who provide health insurance from denying contraceptive coverage to employees and from firing or discriminating against an employee based on the their use of reproductive health care services.

“From my perspective as a student, affording tuition, housing and healthcare in this political climate is uncertain and adds to my worries,” said Montana James, a student who testified in support of both bills. “It’s a scary time for many, particularly the most vulnerable, but passage of these bills will provide security, certainty for people to live their everyday lives.”

SB 6105 would create a state program to reimburse the cost of reproductive health services to immigrant women who do not qualify for federal benefits such as Medicaid.

“I am proud that our state stands up for all people, regardless of gender, color or country of origin,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, the bills’ sponsor. “There are thousands of people in our communities making Washington stronger who lack access to important healthcare coverage under current federal regulations. We must ensure our transgender brothers and sisters and the immigrant community receive the same access and protections the rest of us enjoy.

“With our federal administration threatening to put up barriers at every turn, it is essential that we safeguard women’s rights to receive the health coverage that fits their needs. No matter who they work for, women deserve the ability to make their own health choices.”

The Democratic Majority is back…and this is what it looks like

January 19th, 2018|

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    Senate Democrats pass bills supporting LGBTQ children in school and our communities

Senate Democrats pass bills supporting LGBTQ children in school and our communities

January 19th, 2018|

OLYMPIA — Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, released the following statement today after the Senate passage of two important bills protecting LGBTQ children: SB 5722, banning conversion therapy for children, and SB 5766, preventing bullying in schools.

“I am proud that our state stands up for all people, especially our most vulnerable. All children deserve to be safe and protected in our schools. No child should have to hide or suffer for who they are.

“Banning the psychologically harmful practice of conversion therapy and strengthening safety in our schools will protect LGBTQ children across the state. As a state and a community, we must ensure every child and every person is safe, respected and treated with dignity. It’s vital that children, and everyone really, but especially children, feel secure and proud of who they are.

“It’s unfortunate it took us so long to hear these bills on the Senate floor, but with Senate Democrats in the majority, Washington state can lead the nation in supporting the rights of all people. We will continue to fight for basic civil rights and safety in our communities and to be a leader for our nation.”

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     Higher Education Committee passes key bills to ensure college access and opportunity for all Washingtonians

 Higher Education Committee passes key bills to ensure college access and opportunity for all Washingtonians

January 19th, 2018|

OLYMPIA — Senate Democrats passed important higher education bills out of the Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee yesterday to expand access to higher education for all Washingtonians.

“Our values implore us to make absolutely sure that all — no matter who you are or when you came to this country — have access to college and the opportunity to succeed without taking on crushing debt upon graduation,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island and committee char. “I am excited to see bipartisan support for finding a pathway for all children to achieve college success, meaningful careers and full lives.”

The Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee passed priority bills with bipartisan support to expand financial aid access for DREAMers (SB 5074), establish the Student Loan Bill of Rights (SB 6029), and pass the Evergreen Free College Act (SB 6101).

“These kids deserve the promise of America. They deserve to pursue the same dreams as every other person raised in this country,” said Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle and sponsor of SB 5074. “Higher education is the key link, the equalizer in pursuing those dreams.  We must afford these kids, who have grown up here, the full range of educational opportunity we offer to everyone in this state.”

“Student loan debt is changing the way that Washingtonians are participating in our economy and experiencing daily life,” said Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood and sponsor of SB 6029. “I’m one of the 800,000 people in our state still paying off their education, so I understand the economic pressures of thinking about how you’re going to afford a home or save for retirement. With the Student Loan Bill of Rights, we have the opportunity to put people first by extending vital consumer protections and helping Washingtonians navigate the complicated path to repayment.”

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    Senate Democrats pass capital budget to put people to work and invest in our communities

Senate Democrats pass capital budget to put people to work and invest in our communities

January 18th, 2018|

OLYMPIA — Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, released this statement today after the Senate passed the state capital budget, investing $4.2 billion in more than 1,400 projects across the state, and nearly $60 million in the 40th district:

“This budget invests in our children by building new classrooms across the state, providing reduced class sizes and the opportunity to succeed.

“It provides for homeless youth and affordable housing to build a safe place for every person and family to call home.

“The budget, importantly, funds paychecks for more than 19,000 public and private workers, putting people to work and keeping families supported.

“I am excited to announce that this budget finally and permanently protects the Harriet Spanel State Forest, also known as Blanchard Mountain.

“This budget also funds other critical community and recreation programs in our communities — including investments in the Skagit Valley Family YMCA, Brigid Collins House and Moran Summit Learning Center and other recreational trails and preserves. Additionally, we are investing in renovations for the science building and lab upgrades at Western Washington University.

“As Senate Democrats retook the majority this year, our top priority has been final passage of the state construction budget that has been blocked by Senate Republicans for a year. I am proud we were able to come together and govern for all the people of Washington.”

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    Senate Democrats: Protecting Washington’s citizens and environment from Trump administration starts in Washington state

Senate Democrats: Protecting Washington’s citizens and environment from Trump administration starts in Washington state

January 17th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – Senate Democrats are sponsoring bills to push back on the Trump administration’s continued efforts to roll back regulations on community health, science and protected lands. Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, and Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island are lead sponsors.

“The president has begun an unprecedented attack not only on our public lands and oceans, but also on the science behind climate change and public health standards,” said Ranker. “Reckless action like this limits access for our children to special natural places and puts our country’s heritage and communities at risk.”

“For over four decades, Washingtonians have relied on federal laws, including the clean air act, water pollution control act and safe drinking water act, to protect our water and air quality,” Cleveland said. “Water and air quality are essential components of public health, not political footballs to be jerked away on a whim. We are working hard at the state level to protect against the current administration rolling our standards back with the swipe of a pen.”

Senate Democrats are sponsoring bills pushing back against the Trump administration to protect Washington state against efforts to diminish public health or safety standards, retaliate against licensed professional or public employee whistleblowers, limit availability of scientific information or remove protections of public lands.

“We cannot count on the federal government to guarantee our core values in Washington state, so we are building a blue wall, brick by brick,” said Ranker. “If we stand together and fight back along the West Coast, we can block the Trump administration through policies at the state level.”

Maintaining public health, safety and environmental standards (SB 6083) co-sponsored by Cleveland and Ranker

  • Prohibits state agencies and regional air pollution control agencies from reducing environmental and public health standards to ensure that if the federal “minimum” standards are lowered during the current presidential administration, no state standards will be lowered.

Preserve Public Lands Act (SB 6103) Ranker

  • This bill discourages the federal government from transferring ownership of public lands to private developers for resource extraction in Washington state.
  • Several state agencies such as the Fish and Wildlife Commission, Board of Natural Resources, and the State Parks and Recreation Commission, are directed to take efforts to protect against unauthorized federal public land conveyances or the repeal of any federal lands designations such as presidential designations under the federal Antiquities Act.

Defend Scientific Information and Research Act (SB 6104) Ranker

  • Scientists, attorneys, engineers and other professionals working for the federal government or federally funded research entities are usually licensed and credentialed under state law. Professionals who report improper governmental activity, such as violations of law, unethical actions or cover-ups of dangers to public health and safety, may enjoy federal whistleblower protections but could lose their state certification.
  • This bill prohibits a licensing entity to take disciplinary action, including loss of credentials or professional licenses, against a public employee or contractor who reports improper governmental activity. It also encourages state agencies and professionals to continue to make scientific information open to the public without fear of losing their professional licenses or credentials.