This year, Democrats took back the Majority in the Washington State Senate… and what a difference it made! While we have been working at breakneck speed since coming back to Olympia in early January, and I am exhausted, it was well worth it! With the support of so many of you, we have accomplished incredible things.

The policies that advanced this year truly represent the core values of our great state – putting people first, protecting our environment, fully funding our children’s schools, providing free college for low income families and fully protecting and advancing LGBTQ rights, choice, equal pay and justice for all.

While there are some accomplishments that did not get done, particularly stronger gun legislation, and while I may be tired…mostly I am proud. I am extremely proud to have been able to help so very many great things happen. The work this legislative session reflects a total commitment to making people’s lives better, our environment better and communities better.

Following are highlights of some of the landmark policies that that were accomplished this year.

  • We delivered a bipartisan budget that invests in education, mental health and jobs, protects the environment and ensures equality, and provides free college to those who need it most.
  • We fully funded our children’s schools, finally completing our McCleary promise and the state’s constitutional obligation to amply fund K-12 education.
  • We passed a statewide property tax cut to give households relief from the Republican Property Tax of 2017.
  • We required equal pay for equal work to close the wage gap between women and men who do the same work with the same level of experience.
  • We passed The Reproductive Parity Act to make sure women have the option of choosing the healthcare choices that are best for them and their families.
  • We banned conversion therapy, the practice of applying physical and mental discomfort to try to force LGBTQ minors to conform to a gender identity other than which feels appropriate for who they are.
  • We improved public safety by banning bump stocks, the device used in the Las Vegas massacre to give a semi-automatic rifle the rapid-fire capability of a machine gun. We also added domestic violence harassment to the list of conditions that prevent people from being able to buy a firearm, and passed legislation to allow anyone struggling or in crisis to place themselves on a firearms do-not-purchase list.
  • We protected Net Neutrality, which was my bill in the Senate, together with the House, to ensure Washington households don’t receive slowed or reduced internet service.
  • We passed The Salish Sea Protection Act to expand funding for oil spill prevention and response activities, to update response plans, and to research and make recommendations for escort and rescue tugs for vessels carrying large quantities of oil across the Salish Sea.
  • For the first time in years, we fully funded the State Need Grant expanding it over the next three years to provide free college for families, making sure all children, no matter their parent’s income, can go to college.
  • We protected college students from fraudulent and predatory practices by lenders that saddle students with spiraling debt by passing the Student Loan Bill of Rights to protect.
  • We passed legislation for DACA to expand access to higher education for students who qualify for DREAMers.
  • We created Passport to Careers, increasing opportunities for homeless and foster children to go to college or secure apprenticeships, particularly those who do not have the support of most families or may have had an unstable home, to fully pursue their educational or apprenticeship training dreams and fully succeed in life.
  • The 2017 capital construction budget, which contained the largest-ever investment in K-12 school construction, 19,000 jobs and badly needed infrastructure projects in every community across the state. Last year, when Republicans controlled the Senate, they blocked passage of the budget to try force passage of an unrelated bill, stalling these important projects and jobs. This year, we insisted on good-faith negotiations from all corners and passed the budget in just the second week of the 2018 session.
  • We phased out Atlantic salmon net pen farms that threaten the health of our water and native finfish populations such as salmon.
  • We expanded voter access to Democracy under The DISCLOSE Act to expose hidden money in elections; same-day voter registration, automatic voter registration, and voter pre-registration; and The Washington Voting Rights Act to provide representation to disenfranchised voters.
  • We addressed the opioid crisis by requiring drug manufacturers to collect and dispose of unneeded prescription and over-the-counter medication that could be taken or abused by someone who doesn’t need it.
  • We finished our work on time. At 193 days, the 2017 session was the longest in state history. With Democrats in control in 2018, the Legislature completed its work on time while passing more pieces of major legislation than in any session in modern memory.

This has been an extraordinary year for progressive values in Washington state, and we set the bar on a national stage for what can be done when Democrats are united and leading the way.

I am inspired and energized by the incredible accomplishments we’ve made in Olympia this session, and we’re not even done yet. We must do more to continue this success and progress when we return to Olympia next year for the 2019 legislative session.

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

Take care,

Kevin Ranker