The following column was written by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, and appeared in the San Juan Journal on Jan. 14:
"Yesterday, after careful consideration, I respectfully declined the offer from the Republicans to accept the Chair of the Environment and Marine Waters Committee or Co-Chair of the Energy and Telecommunications Committee. I did this for a few reasons.
“First, the Republican proposal for the Energy and Telecommunications Committee completely minimizes, or worse, eliminates the ability to expand our renewable energy industry and create thousands of associated jobs in Washington State. Their proposal reduced the size of the committee to only four members and while they called it a "bi-partisan" committee with "co-chairs" they appointed three of their own members, the best of which has a 30% Conservation Voters Record and a Chair with a 0% record.
Further, these three members have a track record of voting against expansion of our renewable energy portfolio. This at a time when a majority of Washington voters have clearly supported expansion of renewable energy at the ballot box through state-wide Initiative 937. This is also occurring at a time when we elected a governor who has dynamic plans for expansion of this industry and the thousands of associated jobs.
“Second, while the Republican proposal offered a Democratic Chair and majority on the Environment and Marine Waters Committee, I am hesitant to except a Chair of a committee that will spend dozens of hours debating and working on critical issues such as our climate or Puget Sound clean-up, encouraging citizens to take time from work to travel to Olympia to testify only to see these bills go no further than their committee of origin.
Why? Because the Rules Committee, where the bills are sent before floor action would occur, is stacked 12 to 6 with members who have track records of not supporting these issues. I have serious concerns that Chairing this committee would only allow for discussion of these important issues and not the actual advancement of critical policy.
“Lastly, while recent press coverage has addressed the fact that certain bills may be introduced, it is clear that the new Majority has had to make commitments that will not allow any legislation associated with women's health or other issues Republicans consider "social issues" to actually pass. So while some bills may be heard in committee, these critical policies protecting women's health and reproductive rights seem destined for failure. While I hope that I am not correct, I understand otherwise.
“In the end it comes down to this: I was elected and recently re-elected as an outspoken advocate for women's rights, equality, education, Washington jobs and the environment. I do not believe the Republican proposal for the Senate will truly support these values. I simply cannot abandon those core values in order for a title of Chair.
“While I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance the needs of all Washington citizens, for the reasons I have stated here, I must decline the offer from the Republicans.”