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    Video: Orca extinction not an option. What are we going to do about it?

Video: Orca extinction not an option. What are we going to do about it?

August 21st, 2018|

Like you, I was deeply saddened watching Tahlequah’s display of grief as she pushed her dead calf for days. Thousands of you have contacted me with your grave concerns regarding the dangerous predicament our resident orcas face, asking… what we are going to do about it?

In the following short video, I cover some of the key actions I believe we must take now if we are going to save these incredible creatures.

Know that, as a member of the task force responsible for developing recommendations to save our Southern Resident Killer Whales, I am totally committed to taking bold actions that will truly make a difference now. We must base our actions in science, but we must not delay.

Our values compel us to do whatever is necessary. We must put politics aside and we must act boldly, now. Extinction is not an option.

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    Ranker: Witnessing extinction is not an option. We must do everything in our power to protect and recover our resident Orca

Ranker: Witnessing extinction is not an option. We must do everything in our power to protect and recover our resident Orca

August 3rd, 2018|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Kevin Ranker released a statement today regarding the need for action to protect and recover the Southern Resident Killer Whale.

“The past days have been overwhelming with sorrow, anguish and anger. Like you, I have been deeply impacted by the images of the mother with her dead calf.

“It is far past time that we act. The loss of another Southern Resident Killer Whale, the mother’s continued display of grief, and now another young member of J pod facing starvation are all gruesome reminders of the dangerous predicament these magnificent creatures face. Our resident Orca have not had a successful pregnancy in three years. The reality is that these incredible creatures are at extreme risk of becoming extinct. This is not an option. We must do every single thing in our power to reverse this trend.

“This is exactly why I introduced the Orca Protection Act last session. Many of us in the Senate worked so hard to pass it, but, unfortunately, this critical legislation did not make it to the governor’s desk. Our efforts continue and we are developing new recommendations for the short and long term.

The Southern Resident Killer Whale task force, on which I serve, is developing recommendations that will come back to the Legislature next year. As a member of that panel, I am doing everything in my power to make sure we produce bold recommendations — recommendations that put aside politics, and in some cases compromise, and purely focus on recovering our resident Orca.

  • We must recover their primary food source, Chinook salmon.
  • We must prioritize the cleanup of toxins in the Puget Sound.
  • We must protect the whales from harassment and noise pollution from vessels.
  • We must make sure there is not an oil spill that is the demise of an entire pod as occurred in the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

“Politics as usual is not an option. It will take dedication, resources and political courage to save these whales.

“Witnessing extinction is not an option. The struggle of these creatures is indicative of the struggle of the entire Salish Sea. These magnificent creatures and this incredible place we call home must be protected. These beautiful whales do not get a second chance.  We do not get a second chance.”

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    Ranker: Congress must ensure immigrant family separation can never happen again

Ranker: Congress must ensure immigrant family separation can never happen again

June 20th, 2018|

Sen. Kevin Ranker released a letter today calling on the Washington state Congressional delegation to immediately reunite families of immigrants and refugees seeking a better life in the U.S. and prevent the unconscionable policy of separating immigrant families in the future.

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    First-in-the-nation program expands apprenticeship and college opportunities for foster and homeless youth

First-in-the-nation program expands apprenticeship and college opportunities for foster and homeless youth

March 22nd, 2018|

OLYMPIA — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker to expand and enhance career opportunities for youth experiencing homelessness or in the state, tribal or federal foster care system was signed into law today by Gov. Inslee.

“There is a huge need to expand access and opportunity for children, particularly those who face immense obstacles or lack the support of their families,” said Ranker, D-Orcas Island. “With stronger services to guide them through junior high and high school, and ensure they’re prepared with needed prerequisites, these youth will have better opportunities to pursue their dreams.”

Senate Bill 6274 builds on a successful scholarship program, the Passport to College program, to create the Passport to Careers program, guiding youth in the foster care system or experiencing homelessness into higher education or apprenticeship programs that help lead to a meaningful career.

This law makes Washington the first state in the nation to guarantee financial support for both higher education tuition and apprenticeship costs. Passport to Careers will nearly double the number of eligible students by lowering the eligibility age from 16 to 13, including children in the federal or tribal foster care system, including youth experiencing homelessness, and allowing apprenticeship credentials in addition to college credentials. Washington established an ambitious goal of increasing the percentage of state residents with a postsecondary credential to 70 percent, and this bill helps reach that goal.

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

Gov. Inslee signs ban on Atlantic salmon net pens

March 22nd, 2018|

OLYMPIA – Critical legislation that protects the Salish Sea by banning leases for Atlantic salmon net pen operations was signed today by Gov. Inslee.

“The economic, cultural, and recreational resources of these incredible waters will no longer be jeopardized by the negligent actions of this industry,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker, prime sponsor of the Senate companion bill. “We’ve invested so much in trying to recover our wild pacific salmon populations, there is no sensible purpose for allowing non-native species into the Salish Sea. The day-to-day impact of invasive aquaculture — feces, disease, loose food pellets or lice — could have serious impacts. The state ban is a strong stance to ensure the protection of our marine environment and native salmon populations in the Salish Sea. I was proud to work with my seatmate, Rep. Kristine Lytton to advance this legislation to protect our precious Salish Sea.”

The legislation bans future leases for Atlantic salmon net pen operations and ends current leases when they expire, as well as creating a heightened inspection process for the current Atlantic salmon net pens. The Commissioner of Public Lands canceled leases at Cypress Island and Port Angeles. The current Hope Island and Rich Passage leases end in 2022.

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    Democrats in the Majority Lead the Way on Progressive Values in 2018

Democrats in the Majority Lead the Way on Progressive Values in 2018

March 9th, 2018|

Friends,

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

 

 

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    Democratic budget cuts taxes, funds K-12 education and, expands free college, invests in communities

Democratic budget cuts taxes, funds K-12 education and, expands free college, invests in communities

March 8th, 2018|

OLYMPIA — With Democrats controlling both the Senate and House for the first time in five years, the Legislature finished on time and passed a budget plan that will cut property taxes, fully fund our children’s education, dramatically expand mental health programs for those struggling most, and provide full college financial aid for the first time.

“Last year’s final budget barely avoided a government shutdown and enacted the largest property tax increase in state history,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island. “The new Democratic Majority is making sure we reduce the Republican property tax while making an historic investment in our children’s education, free college, and protections for the environment, mental health and much more. Today, we have a budget that reflects our core Democratic values and provides badly needed tax relief to middle-class families across the state.

“We fully fund our children’s education in a thoughtful way that finally meets the McCleary lawsuit. We invest $130 million in special education and dramatically increase opportunities for foster and homeless children. We provide free college for low income families, making sure all children — no matter their parent’s income — can go to college.

“Additionally, our capital budget invests in our communities in north Puget Sound, providing additional dollars to strengthen families, educate our children and connect us to nature, ultimately making our communities stronger.

“We worked tirelessly through the 60-day session for our communities. This was by far one of the busiest, but most productive, sessions in Olympia. I am inspired and energized by the incredible accomplishments we’ve made in this short session. Washington state is showing the nation what progressive leadership can accomplish, and we’re not done yet.”

Senate Democrats deliver $400 million property tax cut

March 7th, 2018|

OLYMPIA — Senate Democrats today passed Senate Bill 6614 to reduce property taxes by nearly $400 million. The state’s revenues are healthy, and middle class families deserve a statewide property tax cut to give households relief from the massive Republican property tax increase that passed in 2017.

“Democrats had significant concerns last year with the Republican proposal to fund schools through the increase insisted upon by the Republican,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker. “Last year’s final budget barely avoided a government shutdown and reflected our core Democratic values. Unfortunately, however, it relied upon the single largest property tax increase in state history. Now the new Democratic Majority is making sure we reduce that significant tax increase and provide real tax relief to middle class families, while making an historic investment in our children’s education.”

This legislation reduces the calendar year 2019 state property tax rate by nearly $400 million statewide, providing much needed relief for Washington families. The bill will go to the House for further consideration.

Hundreds of state legislators oppose offshore oil drilling

March 5th, 2018|

OLYMPIA — In response to the Trump administration’s proposal to open nearly all offshore waters to oil and gas drilling, 227 state legislators from 17 coastal states signed a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke opposing the drilling plan.

The letter, spearheaded by Washington state Sen. Kevin Ranker and California State Sen. Kevin de León, cites numerous issues over offshore drilling. These range from large-scale, irreparable damage caused by oil spills, to long-term damage to coastal economies in the wake of such disasters.

“This reckless proposal opens shorelines to new oil and gas drilling, putting Washington state and the entire country’s economy and marine environment at risk of a catastrophic oil spill,” said Ranker. “States across the country are standing up together against the Trump administration to protect our communities, our marine and coastal ecosystems and our economies.”

In Washington state, the maritime industry supports $21.4 billion in business revenues, 69,500 jobs, and $4.7 billion in wages. This includes:

  • $9.4 billion in commercial fishing and seafood supporting 15,900 jobs; and
  • $4.3 billion in business revenue at the ports of Tacoma and Seattle supporting 18,900 jobs.

Washington state recreational fishing alone accounts for $6.1 billion in annual spending and 14,250 jobs. An oil spill on par with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico would devastate maritime industries..

“Californians overwhelmingly oppose offshore drilling,” said de León. “It’s dangerous, it’s shortsighted, and the risks dramatically outweigh the benefits. We need to build the clean energy infrastructure of the future, not compromise our oceans and coastal economies with offshore oil wells.”

NOAA reports that coastal communities alone provide 45 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Furthermore, California, Oregon and Washington combined represent the fifth largest economy in the world, a level of prosperity that would not be achieved without their ocean-dependent industries.

This leasing program seeks to open a majority of the United States’ outer continental shelf to oil and gas exploration and construction, representing the first time in decades that many states’ coastal communities would be exposed to such development and potential for harm. The majority of coastal states stand opposed.

The full text of the letter is available here.

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    Senate passes orca whale protection act, oil transportation safety act

Senate passes orca whale protection act, oil transportation safety act

March 3rd, 2018|

OLYMPIA — The Senate on Saturday passed significant legislation to protect Washington state’s orcas and the marine waters they call home.

The two measures are part of the Salish Sea Protection package introduced by Sen. Kevin Ranker.

“The Puget Sound resident orca population has dropped to one of its lowest levels ever. We must do everything in our power to protect these incredible whales on the brink of extinction,” said Ranker. “This bill ensures our children will continue to enjoy the wonder and beauty of watching these magical creatures.”

“We have built an incredible quality of life in our state, but today, that quality of life and our environment is significantly threatened by the dramatic increase of oil transportation tankers moving across the Salish Sea,” said Ranker. “This will strengthen our state oil spill prevention program by providing the resources needed and work with our Canadian neighbors to provide critical transboundary protection.”

The Orca Whale Protection Act (SB 5886) passed the Senate 34-15

This legislation bolsters orca protection laws by requiring boats to give orcas an adequate buffer. The new laws are intended to decrease noise pollution. The bill also provides funding for improved education and enforcement by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and calls for a trans-boundary discussion of orca whale protection and preservation. A $5 increase for an endangered wildlife special license plate helps fund the efforts.

The Salish Sea Protection Act (SB 6269) passed the Senate 42-7.

This legislation will provide additional funding for Washington state oil spill prevention and response activities, update our geographical response plans, and provide funding to research and make recommendations for both tug escorts and a stationed, rescue tug for all vessels carrying large quantities of oil across the Salish Sea. It calls for a significant increase in coordination with our Canadian neighbors.

Both bills now head to the House of Representatives for further consideration.