Community

Get on the Bus

Give new direction to the state Senate

Attend

What: Flip the Senate

When: Sat., Sep. 30

Where: Multiple departure locations, including Bellingham High School (2020 Cornwall Ave.)

Info: Register at 
www.cascadia
weekly.com/redirect

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Washington State Senate has been in paralysis too long. A number of years back, a couple of Democrats in conservative districts made the decision to legislate alongside Republicans in what became known as the Majority Coalition Caucus. And for a while, it worked—there were sufficient votes to get things done, even if there wasn’t full agreement on what should be done. Over time, though, the ability of the caucus to push through gridlock eroded.

Last November, the charismatic Republican from Redmond, Sen. Andy Hill—the chief GOP budget writer who had been talked about as a potential candidate for governor—died of lung cancer. He was 54.

His death has drawn a special election, and it is an important one, one that could shift the balance of power in the state senate and get that body working again in Olympia. The contest will decide whether the GOP keeps its one-seat majority in the state Senate. Democrats hold a slim majority in the state House, as well as the governorship.

Because of its importance, millions of dollars have poured into the race. Democrat Manka Dhingra holds a precarious lead over Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund in the 45th District.

Sen. Kevin Ranker—the chief budget writer for the Democrats—sees an opportunity to strengthen Washington policy in the face of changing directive at the federal level on issues like health care, education, immigration and the environment. The state has already decided these matters, he says, but they need strengthening. And that strength requires a committed state government.

Get on the bus, he urges. Get out the vote. One day will make a huge difference.

Right now, Bellingham is underrepresented on the bus. That’s a shame, because Bellingham values are among the most passionate in his district, Ranker says.

“Following last November’s election, like many in Washington, I felt totally overwhelmed,” the Orcas Island Democrat admits. “I was shocked and I was scared. Since then each day has been a barrage of newsfeeds coming across my phone—from attacking immigrants’ rights, women’s rights, the environment and LGBTQ rights to gutting most agencies and laws I care about to the increasingly scary daily rants, these past months have been emotionally exhausting. 

“But like many of you, I have chosen to fight back. I have chosen to surround myself with friends and neighbors who empower me, rebuild my strength and do everything I can to take my country back.”

“We can make sure that Washington state is not only a sanctuary for the protection of our core values, but also a beacon of hope and leadership for our entire nation,” Ranker notes. 

This Saturday, dozens of friends and neighbors from the 40th and 42nd districts will get on a bus in Bellingham and ride down to Redmond to attend a massive rally for Manka Dhingra, and then go doorbelling for her.

“The bus ride is free and lunch is included and it will truly make a difference—and it will be a lot of fun!” Ranker promises.

Since taking control, the Washington State Senate Republicans have advanced numerous bills that are directly contrary to state policies, Ranker details. Perhaps even more critically, they have used their numbers to block or stall other pieces of approved legislation that would have protected and advanced core values expressed by voters. 

Bad bills introduced, Ranker itemizes, include making protests illegal; delisting of endangered species; privatizing public lands; expanding tax loop holes for Big Oil; allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ and transgered individuals; and withdrawing funding for family planning.

Blocked bills include a state voting rights act; an equal pay act; workplace protections for immigrants and minorities; additional protections for LGBTQ and transgendered; protections from oil spills; and legislation to address climate change.

If these issues are important to you, this is a call to action, Ranker asserts.
“The contrast is clear and the outcome is everything,” Ranker says. “Join me and dozens of your neighbors for an incredibly empowering day. Just one day will truly make a huge difference.

“Together we can protect women’s rights, immigrants’ rights, LGBTQ rights, healthcare, education and the environment.”

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