Monthly Archives: February 2018

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    Ranker legislation to open career opportunities for homeless and foster youth one step closer to approval

Ranker legislation to open career opportunities for homeless and foster youth one step closer to approval

February 28th, 2018|

OLYMPIA — The House of Representatives passed Sen. Kevin Ranker’s Senate Bill 6274, to create a new pathway to college or apprenticeship programs in the Passport to Careers program, focusing on expanding career opportunities for foster and homeless youth.

“There is a huge need to expand access and opportunity for children in this state, particularly those who do not have the support and resources of most families,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker, prime sponsor of the legislation. “We know these children need the most help as they are more likely to drop out of college or not apply at all. With more services to guide children through junior high school and high school, these children will have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

The bill would increase eligibility to include people who have experienced homelessness and those who have spent time in a tribal or federal foster care system and expand the successful Passport to College Promise program to include apprenticeships. Renamed the Passport to Careers program, the bill would potentially double the number of students served.

“Not everyone learns the same way or sees college as the best path forward for their success. We need to help children find the right path to success through college or apprenticeship learning,” Ranker said. “We need to put our children on the best path to success, whether it is in manufacturing, software development and clean technology or in teaching, the arts and human services.”

Since the bill passed the Senate and was then amended in the House, the technical changes between the two versions must be approved before the bill can be sent to the governor to be signed into law.

Washington state protects net neutrality

February 27th, 2018|

OLYMPIA — The Washington state Senate passed bipartisan legislation to safeguard net neutrality. It passed the House on a 93-5 vote earlier this month.

“Corporations should not control how Washingtonians use the internet or what information they seek. We value free and open access to information,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker, prime sponsor of the Senate net neutrality legislation. “In December 2017, President Trump’s administration reversed rules protecting the internet. Now all states must act, Washington state must act, to protect net neutrality for open, free and accessible internet.”

House Bill 2282 protects Washington consumers from:

  • Blocking of lawful content by internet service providers;
  • “Throttling,” or slowing down, of lawful content by internet service providers; and
  • Favoring of certain content over others by internet service providers due to special deals — paid prioritization.

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for signature.

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    Senate Democratic legislation protects schools and strengthens gun purchase regulations

Senate Democratic legislation protects schools and strengthens gun purchase regulations

February 27th, 2018|

OLYMPIA — The Washington state Senate Ways & Means Committee heard testimony in a public hearing on a new proposal, Senate Bill 6620, which would enhance school safety and raise the age for purchase of a tactical rifle.

“No family should be fearful to send their child to school. No community should have to live through another tragedy,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker, a co-sponsor of the bill. “There is no justifiable reason for tactical rifles to be easier to acquire than handguns, and the horrific shooting in Parkland just provided 17 more reasons why they shouldn’t.

“We see and hear students across the country standing up for their communities, for their lives. We hear them; we are inspired by them. In a time when school shootings are becoming the norm, we owe it to our children to take action.”

Senate Bill 6620 would create a school safety program that allows students to anonymously report by phone, text or email potentially dangerous, violent or criminal activities. Information would immediately be forwarded to local law enforcement and/or school officials. It also would align the requirements for sale of a rifle with tactical features with existing requirements for handguns. Purchasers would have to be 21 or older.

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    Senate Democrats pass budgets that reflect our values and help all families in Washington

Senate Democrats pass budgets that reflect our values and help all families in Washington

February 23rd, 2018|

OLYMPIA — Senate Democrats passed budget proposals today to thoughtfully meet our moral and legal responsibilities to support healthy and safe communities, quality public education, and careful stewardship of our natural resources.

“Since taking back the majority, Senate Democrats have been working tirelessly to move policy that reflects our progressive values in Washington state,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker. “For the first time in many years, a Democratic budget passed off the Senate floor that represent the core values of Washingtonians — valuing education, choice, equality, justice, local jobs and the environment.

“We will fully fund our children’s education in a thoughtful way that finally meets the McCleary lawsuit. We will invest $130million in special education and make significant investments for foster youth and homelessness programs.

“While not enough yet, we will make a huge investment in the State Need Grant, making sure that every student, no matter their parents income, can go to college. We also provide additional critical support to our four year and community and technical colleges.

“Finally, we will increase mental health funding, fully fund family planning, thoughtfully invests in our social safety net, and makes one of the largest investments in many years in environmental programs.”

In addition, to the operating budget, Senate Democrats passed the supplemental capital and transportation budgets to invest in communities across the state.

“Our capital budget invests in our communities in north Puget Sound, providing additional dollars for a community pool on Lopez Island, the Skagit Children’s Advocacy & Family Support Center and Moran Summit Learning Center,” said Ranker. “These projects are critical for strengthening families, educating our children and connecting us to nature, ultimately making our communities stronger.”

House advances equal and inclusive care for LGBTQ seniors

February 23rd, 2018|

OLYMPIA — The House Health Care & Wellness Committee passed legislation today to ensure LGBTQ seniors in long-term care are not discriminated against.

“No one deserves to be discriminated against or abused because of who they are or who they love,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker, sponsor of the bill. “This bill will reduce fear and will promote welcoming, inclusive care for all older adults.”

Senate Bill 5700 will require specific LGBTQ training as part of the regular continuing education program for long term caregivers; it also requires administrators of assisted living and nursing homes to complete training for care of LGBTQ seniors.

A 2015 study by University of Washington researchers found that LGBTQ seniors experience high rates of victimization and discrimination in long term care – 82 percent have been victimized at least once and 64 percent at least three times.

Added Ranker, “we must ensure everyone is safe, secure and cared for when they need help and support.”

The bill will move to full consideration by the House of Representatives next week.

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    Ranker legislation expands access to State Need Grant for more Washington families

Ranker legislation expands access to State Need Grant for more Washington families

February 22nd, 2018|

OLYMPIA — Sen. Kevin Ranker introduced legislation today to fully fund the Washington State Need Grant while also expanding the program to more families.

“The State Need Grant is the best way to make sure everyone — no matter their income — can access college,” said Ranker. “An increasing number of families just cannot afford college, and for many students, the only option is loans that inflict crushing debt after graduation.

“The state can do more to help students achieve their goals by covering tuition and other needs for those students who get good grades but cannot afford college. The problem is while the State Need Grant is critical, we have never fully funded it. Now is the time for us to not only fully fund K-12 education but also free college.”

Senate Bill 6593 expands the number of students eligible for the maximum award of state need grant over the next three biennia to cover families at 70 percent of the median family income.

“Higher education should not be limited to a privilege for those who can afford it,” said Ranker. “Everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed in life, and affordable college is a path for many to fulfill their full potential.”

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    Washington Senate recognizes the life and work of Joyce Sobel

Washington Senate recognizes the life and work of Joyce Sobel

February 22nd, 2018|

OLYMPIA — The Washington state Senate passed Sen. Kevin Ranker’s resolution honoring the life of Joyce Sobel as a champion for the children and families of San Juan County and Washington State.

“Joyce Sobel committed her life to the betterment of others and I am honored to recognize her in the state Senate,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker, sponsor of Senate Resolution 8703. “She was a pillar in our community and worked tirelessly to serve children and families to ensure every family had the opportunity to be healthy and happy. We will always remember her lifelong commitment to serving others and mentorship of many of us to serve through kindness and love.”

Senate passes Student Loan Bill of Rights

February 14th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – The state Senate today passed innovative legislation to expand consumer protections for Washington borrowers and take action to ensure students can complete college without massive student loan debt.

“It is our duty to make absolutely sure that every single child has the chance to fully pursue their educational dreams and fully succeed in life,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker, chair of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee. “Senate Democrats are going to make absolutely sure that all Washington students have access to college and not be crushed with debt after graduation.”

Known as the Student Loan Bill of Rights, Senate Bill 6029 would establish protections for Washington students from predatory practices and establish a Student Education Loan Advocate to aid borrowers, provide information and, importantly, review and take action on complaints.

SB 6029 passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 35-13 and now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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    Senate Democrats ensure equality and inclusive care for LGBTQ seniors

Senate Democrats ensure equality and inclusive care for LGBTQ seniors

February 12th, 2018|

OLYMPIA —Senate Democrats have passed ground-breaking legislation to improve care for LGBTQ seniors in our Washington communities.

“LGBTQ members of our communities and their families deserve respect and dignity in their long term care and support as they age and retire,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker, sponsor of Senate Bill 5700. “Studies find LGBTQ older adults experience and fear higher rates of discrimination in housing and long term care. At the same time, they are more likely to live alone and in poverty, with minimal support networks.”

Senate Bill 5700 will require specific LGBTQ training as part of the regular continuing education program for Long Term Caregivers; it also requires administrators of assisted living and nursing homes to complete training for care of LGBTQ seniors.

“No one deserves to be discriminated or abused because of who they are or who they love,” said Ranker. “This bill will reduce fear and support welcoming, inclusive care for all older adults.”

The bill passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote 29-18 and heads to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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    Senate votes to prohibit discrimination in reproductive health

Senate votes to prohibit discrimination in reproductive health

February 12th, 2018|

OLYMPIA — The state Senate passed bipartisan legislation today which will protect women’s access to insurer-provided contraceptive coverage in their health care plans.

“Four years ago, I introduced this bill in response to the Hobby Lobby decision by the US Supreme Court,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker, sponsor of the bill. “The federal administration’s continued attack on women’s health is unacceptable. Washington state will protect contraception and family planning at every opportunity. No company, no corporation, no boss has any business making health care choices for their employees. It is their personal choice, it is her personal choice.”

Senate Bill 6102 would ensure women have access to contraception under their health care plans here in Washington state by strengthening the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

“Barrier-free access to birth control should be a choice that remains available to all women, as discrimination against women and women’s health needs is contrary to our values as citizens of this state,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland, co-sponsor and chair of the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee. “This legislation safeguards the right of Washington women to receive essential health coverage.”

Washington state has a long tradition of protecting women’s rights to reproductive healthcare. A priority of the Senate Democratic Caucus, the bill passed on a bipartisan 26-21 vote.

“We can and must ensure that Washington women have equal rights and real choice to make their own reproductive health decisions regardless of their employer,” said Sen. Karen Keiser, co-sponsor and chair of the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee. “Now is the time to proactively defend our values from any destructive policies adopted at the federal level.”

The bill will now go to the House of Representatives for further consideration.