What do Sen. Kevin Ranker and the Seahawks have in common? They both know the importance of playing defense. With the State Senate in Republican hands for the last year, the outspoken Senator from the 40th has been left blocking some of the more strident pieces of legislation emerging from the committee he once chaired, now controlled by Sen. Doug Ericksen.
Moreover, with his increased responsibility on the Ways and Means committee, his central role in the Governor’s Climate Change efforts and his leadership as President of the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region, Ranker is a busy Senator (although he still finds time to check this blog every day)
That does not mean he has passed up the opportunity to legislate. This year he proposed a modest smattering of bills this session. Unlike Lytton and Morris’ focus on one particular subject, Sen. Ranker has fired off a scattershot of proposals addressing a wide spread of issues.
The bill that has drawn the most media attention is legislation that would require cell phone companies to reimburse users for service outages (SB6197). This is especially relevant to Bellingham residents who last summer lost nearly a week of coverage while the Sprint tower on Sehome Hill was repaired. This bill has drawn a slew of bipartisan co-sponsors, with the hungry Senator Doug Ericksen leading the pack.
In a similar “small potatoes, big impact” bill, Ranker proposed banning the use of leaf blowers by state agencies (SB6342). The case against leaf blowers is pretty standard (noisy, uses a ton of gas, did I mention noisy?) and this small measure would push back against their use.
As an environmentalist from the San Juan’s, Ranker is taking aim at pollution near home. He has proposed a bill (SB6377) that sets goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by our state ferry system. The bill includes a timeline for slowly meeting those goals.
What happens if you park at a state park but forget your Discovery Pass? Right now, you can show proof that you own one and cut your ticket in half, but another bill from Ranker (SB6378) would remove the loophole, full price for you!
From the “Get Your House in Order!” school of legislation, Ranker has proposed a bill (SB6381) that would require the swarm of watershed and environmental committees centered around protecting the Puget Sound to get together, figure out where there is overlap and come up with recommendations on how to be more effective.
With an aging population and the privatization of health support services, there comes the need for bills such as this (SB6527) which address life alert buttons. Right now, when you press one of those buttons, you can communicate with a private company that provides the service. This bill would require that the private company provide the medical condition and location of an alertee when requested by emergency services. If they withhold that information, they will be fined.
He has also reintroduced a bill from last year (SB5123) that would create a farming internship program in Skagit, Whatcom and San Juan counties. He is also sponsoring a bill very similar to Rep. Lytton’s (SB6155) that would make it a little easier for farmers to categorize their land as agricultural.
Finally, Ranker offered a resolution honoring the life of Nelson Mandela which was adopted on January 24th this year.
As I mentioned above, this only dealt with Sen. Ranker’s specific legislative efforts, he is currently playing a role in much of the larger workings of the Senate and I have a follow up interview scheduled to get more details on how that is playing out.