Sen. Ranker Newsroom

Senate passes Student Loan Bill of Rights

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.

February 14th, 2018|Uncategorized|
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    Senate Democrats ensure equality and inclusive care for LGBTQ seniors

Senate Democrats ensure equality and inclusive care for LGBTQ seniors

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.

February 12th, 2018|Uncategorized|
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    Senate votes to prohibit discrimination in reproductive health

Senate votes to prohibit discrimination in reproductive health

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.

February 12th, 2018|Uncategorized|

We’ve started strong and we’re not finished yet!

Friends,

Senate Democrats continue to pass legislation that reflects our progressive values. We have started strong and are not finished yet.

We’ve moved out of committees and are focused on moving bills off the Senate floor to the House of Representatives. Bills have to be out of the Senate by Feb. 14 to keep moving before end of session in early March.

Earlier this week, the Senate passed legislation to permanently ban commercial net pens used for farming invasive Atlantic salmon in Washington state waters. Despite heavy lobbying, SB 6086 passed on a commanding, bipartisan vote 35-12 and moves to the House. Watch my floor speech on the importance of this bill.

Prior to passage of the bill, Gov. Inslee invited me to a press conference to publicly announce his support of the bill. I am grateful for his support as we push forward. Though this is one step of many, I am confident we will pass the bill this year.

Over this weekend and into next week, we will be working hard to pass a number of progressive issues, including transparency of prescription drug prices, ensuring all women have full access to healthcare in private employer plans, protecting your private online information, building a clean, efficient renewable energy standard for electricity, putting a cost on carbon emissions, enhancing environmental education, expanding opportunities for foster children and homeless through the Passport to Careers program and expanding career and education opportunities for foster children and homeless youth.

In the Higher Education & Workforce Development committee this year, we have been studying a number of ways to expand support services for more students. We need to make sure everyone in our community has the opportunity to go to college, including those experiencing homelessness. You can read more about my proposal to expand services for students experiencing homelessness here.

The state does already offer a number of important programs for students looking to enroll in college. The Washington State Opportunity Scholarship awards up to $22,500 to pursue careers in high-demand degrees in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) or health care. Washington state and private companies partner to bring this scholarship opportunity to eligible, low- or middle-income students attending a Washington state college or university. One of many programs the state implements to ensure our children can pursue and succeed in their careers without significant debt to hold them back.

The application period for this program is now open! Visit www.waopportunityscholarship.org for more details to apply by Feb. 28, 2018.

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

Take care,

Kevin Ranker

February 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|
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    Senate passes ban on invasive species Atlantic salmon net pens

Senate passes ban on invasive species Atlantic salmon net pens

OLYMPIA – The Senate today passed Sen. Kevin Ranker’s legislation to permanently ban commercial net pens used for farming invasive Atlantic salmon in Washington state waters.

“In the months since the escape of hundreds of thousands of invasive Atlantic salmon from the net pen failure, we have learned the extent of the mismanagement and negligence of Cooke Aquaculture,” said Ranker, an Orcas Island Democrat. “This sort of careless behavior is unacceptable for any company in Washington state. The state ban is a strong stance to ensure the protection of our marine environment and native salmon populations in the Salish Sea.”

Since Ranker introduced the legislation earlier this year, the Department of Ecology fined Cooke Aquaculture $332,000 for violating its Clean Water Act permit and a state investigation found the company’s negligence caused the net pen collapse and escapement. The Department of Natural Resources, meanwhile, has cancelled two permits for Cooke Aquaculture operations in Port Angles and Cypress Island.

“It is no longer acceptable for the people of the state of Washington to expose our waters to the threats posed by non-native Atlantic salmon in net pens,” said Gov. Jay Inslee at his regular media session. “We need to transition and phase out the leases that now exist because this is a risk that is intolerable and unacceptable.”

“This bill takes a critical step toward protecting the Puget Sound and the native species that call it home,” said Sen. Maralyn Chase. “Our economy, history and way of life are integrally linked with this delicate ecosystem. We must take the necessary actions to protect it.”

SB 6086 passed on a 35-12 vote and now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

February 8th, 2018|Uncategorized|
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    Senate Democrats take major step toward passing a price on carbon pollution

Senate Democrats take major step toward passing a price on carbon pollution

OLYMPIA — Last night, the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee passed Gov. Inslee’s carbon tax proposal, Senate Bill 6203. Washington state moved one step closer to being the first state in the country to pass a carbon tax of this kind. While this is the first step of several, it is a significant accomplishment moving closer to a clean and prosperous Washington for all.

“We have been working tirelessly over the years to make progress and, together with our tribal partners, the business community, labor, members of communities of color, nonprofits and concerned citizens have come together to take a major step in putting a price on carbon pollution in Washington state,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker, the number two sponsor of the bill. “With Congress and the president still debating whether climate change is real, Washington state is taking action. I am proud to see us leading this discussion as we refine and perfect a system that will curb emissions and make critical investments in rural economies, new jobs and technology, clean air and water, land preservation and support for those impacted by climate change.

“Our moral responsibility compels us to move this legislation forward to ensure our state’s children have vibrant forests, clean water and air, and healthy communities.”

Ranker is a cosponsor of Senate Bill 6203, which was requested by Gov. Inslee to address climate change in Washington state. The bill will now move to the Senate Ways & Means Committee for further consideration before going to the floor for a vote of the full Senate.

February 2nd, 2018|Uncategorized|
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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

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.”

January 31st, 2018|Uncategorized|
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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

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.”

January 30th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Senate Democrats Delivering on Our Promises!

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

January 26th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Senate votes to extend financial aid access for DREAMers

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.”

January 24th, 2018|Uncategorized|