Posted by: sweeneyblog | February 22, 2013

Ericksen Flouts Procedure to Shut Down Ranker

Whatcom County elected officials butted heads yesterday in a committee hearing as Sen. Doug Ericksen (R) broke parliamentary procedure to shut down the last possible vote on a bill supported by Sen. Kevin Ranker (D). The bill (SB 5181, sponsored by Sen. Nelson) would have banned toxic material in mattresses and children’s toys and is considered to be a high priority for environmentalists, firefighters and anyone who likes healthy children. Today was the last day to move legislation to the next stage so it could have a full vote; anything left behind dies in committee.

Sen. Ericksen, who chairs the Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, passed all of his own bills first and was preparing to close the meeting. Here’s where it gets interesting. Sen. Ranker, refusing to let such an important bill die from neglect, brought it up for a vote . . . and Ericksen seconded.

Watch the video in the link above to hear the confusion in Sen. Ericksen’s voice as he realizes what he has done. “Which bill was that?” he asks. Since the motion has been moved and seconded, it is required they hold a vote. Ranker clings to the issue, “There was a second! It has been seconded.”  Ericksen’s Republican ally, Sen. Tim Sheldon, tries frantically to help cover Ericksen’s mistake by moving to adjourn (shut down the meeting). Ericksen finally realizes what he has done and attempts to shut down the meeting. Ranker notes, correctly, that there is still a motion on the floor. Ericksen ignores him and gavels the meeting to a close.

Sen. Ranker

Sen. Ranker

I had a chance to talk to Sen. Ranker today about this and he was deeply disappointed in Ericksen’s behavior. “This is really heartbreaking for me that he would kill such an important bill. I thought we had a good working relationship to move certain things forward, but then, at the eleventh hour of cutoff, to do this is really disappointing.” Ranker has filed a letter of complaint with the Lt. Governor’s office (the person responsible for overseeing the function of the Senate), but Ranker admits there is not much that can be done now.

“It is very clear that they broke the rules to kill this bill, but that is the unfortunate thing about having the Republicans in control.” He noted that Ericksen also worked to kill the Working Waterfront bill which would have provided jobs for the Port of Bellingham (SB 5545) and tried to undermine the effort to streamline toxic area cleanup funding (SB 5201).

I have a call out to Sen. Ericksen’s office and will post his response as soon as I have it. 

2/23/13 – FOLLOW-UP: Ericksen Touts Bipartisanship after gutting Ranker’s bills



  1. Why have the gavel if you can’t use it to shut down the other side? I mean, partisanship trumps all other considerations, right?

    What could possibly go wrong with governance on this basis? Don’t we have the best system, an incorruptible beacon to the poor benighted in the rest of the world?

  2. And anyway why would we want to pay more for mattresses or even cause the manufacturers to be regulated? Regulation is bad! Government is bad!

    If someone roasts to death on on a flaming mattress it’s their own damn fault!

  3. I too am shocked by Doug’s actions. The bill was an important one that could have saved lives including those in utero. This is not pro-life. Shameful for it not even to get a committee vote

  4. Actually, Senator Ericksen’s actions don’t surprise me at all. They are precisely what I have come to expect from the man. We really dodged a bullet when he wasn’t elected County Executive.

    • We dodged one bullet, but appear to have been hit splat in the face by his remaining in the Senate and chairing this important committee

    • At least as a local county executive,
      he couldn’t have rained regressive destruction on our entire state
      as a petty anti-parliamentarian.
      I won’t let Mr. Ranker have his say,
      I won’t I won’t I won’t!
      And you can’t make me!

  5. Thanks for the deets! ~Carrie

    Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2013 22:24:09 +0000 To:

  6. […] case you missed the whole Sen. Doug Ericksen breaking the rules to shut down Sen. Ranker story I posted on Friday, you should check it out, and then wash that down with […]

  7. I love TVW with all my heart since it’s reality TV at its best.
    But I miss Jessica Gao and I wish Austin Jenkins would stop channeling David Gregory.

  8. You are so interesting! I do not think I’ve read anything like this before. So great to find another person with some original thoughts on this issue. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This website is something that is required on the internet, someone with a little originality!

  9. […] host of issues.” At this the audience openly laughed at him (to my delight, they had heard of Ericksen’s recent tiff with Ranker). Sen. Ericksen looked around, mildly confused. I think he expected a conservative audience but he […]

  10. […] case anyone is curious, Sen. Doug Ericksen is the 4th most conservative member of the State Senate, and Sen. Ranker is 13th most […]

  11. […] he sent them to committees chair by conservative Republicans who refused to let them escape (similar to what Doug Ericksen did to the Toxics bill). Rodney Tom has the power to bring them up for a vote despite not escaping the committee but chose […]

  12. […] being in the legislature for over a decade, he still seems to have trouble with the rules after he broke the law to shut down Sen. Ranker earlier this year. But being in charge of a committee has its advantages, he was able to pass quite a few bills out […]

  13. […] the session carried on, the Senators repeatedly clashed, with Ericksen breaking the rules to shut down Ranker in committee, and then bragging about their bipartisan cooperation the next day. Ranker continued to maintain a […]

  14. […] like you trying to arrest a citizen journalist, your plans to break up county unions and your illegal shutdown of a bill that would have protected children from toxic mattresses, and to be fair, you did block me on […]

  15. […] Ericksen did make some headlines last year for his ethical troubles and his rule-breaking activities as committee chair, he did have a significant impact on the Governor’s legislative agenda, much to the […]

  16. […] which bills to bring up within their committee and how much time to spend on each. Last year, Sen. Doug Ericksen illegally used his power as chair to shut down debate on a bill that had already been opened for a vote. Despite the violation of […]

  17. […] chemicals in children’s mattresses, furniture and toys (SB5984 and SB6540). Last year, Ericksen used an illegal procedural move to shut down consideration of a very similar bill and then proposed a smaller, weaker version of […]

  18. […] a functional state senate IS the pro-business position and that Ericksen’s obstinence (or incompetence)  as committee chair is driving business groups to find a better senator for the 42nd. Enterprise […]

  19. […] That’s a pretty lopsided chart. Removing the organizations and just looking at individual donations, 82.1% come from Whatcom County with the remaining 16.9% coming mainly from Seattle. Large donors include local other elected officials such as Rud Browne, Rep. Kris Lytton and of course, Sen. Kevin Ranker. […]

  20. […] Senator: Seth Fleetwood Anyone surprised? Seriously, vote Fleetwood. As a reporter following Ericksen’s behavior in the legislature, it is crystal clear who Ericksen works for, and it isn’t us. This vote goes beyond […]

  21. […] Similarly, SB5056 would ban two toxic chemicals in children’s toys and mattresses. But the bill is a watered down version of a much stricter provision from a few years ago – that version was killed in committee when Ericksen broke state law by illegally tabling that bill. […]

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