By Ralph Schwartz
Sen. Kevin Ranker’s loss is Sen. Doug Ericksen’s gain.
The rival senators from neighboring districts — Ranker, D-Orcas Island; and Ericksen, R Ferndale — have gone in opposite directions in terms of Senate leadership since the Republicans announced their takeover (with the help of two crossover Democrats) in December.
Ranker refused an offer from the GOP-led coalition to head up the Senate’s environment committee. He said he would focus instead on issues at the core of his and his constituents’ values, including reproductive rights for women.
Ranker’s decision led to an expansion of the committee Ericksen was chosen to chair. “environment” was added to his energy and telecommunications committee.
A press release from Ericksen’s office announcing the committee change is pasted below:
Ericksen to lead Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee
Whatcom County senator excited about addition of environmental issues to committee
OLYMPIA…Sen. Doug Ericksen today (Jan. 14) was formally named chair of the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee. The environment component was added to the committee when the Senate finalized its committee structure.
“Adding environment issues to the mix was a natural fit because energy policy is directly linked to our environment and quality of life,” said Ericksen, R-Ferndale. “The focus of the committee will stay the same: reducing energy costs, promoting new technologies and creating energy-sector jobs while protecting our environment.”
Environment was initially slated to be a separate committee, with the Majority Coalition Caucus offering the chairmanship to Senator Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island. When Ranker chose not to lead the committee, it was consolidated into Senator Ericksen’s Energy and Telecommunications Committee. Merging the committee will also expand its membership, which increases from four members to nine.
The 2013 legislative session began today and is scheduled to last 105 days.
Ranker said he and Ericksen have agreed to work together on the issues relevant to the Republican’s committee. From an email Ranker sent to the Politics Blog:
Doug and I have agreed to get together for dinner in the coming days to discuss areas where we can agree and work together in the committee. While many of the larger issues we discussed regarding energy and climate may still be off the table, I imagine that Doug and I will be able to find mutually agreeable issues that we can advance together that will benefit Whatcom County and Washington State.
Also, Ericksen has launched a new website with a blog format. He will update it regularly, he said. Some of his posts will be 2-3 minute video updates of what’s going on in the legislative session, under the heading, “Ericksen TV.”
Here’s his release about the website:
Ericksen launches new legislative website
OLYMPIA…Sen. Doug Ericksen today launched a new official Senate website to make it easier than ever for Whatcom County residents to contact him and stay up-to-date on the latest legislative news. The website address (www.senatorericksen.com) and his email address (email@example.com) have both been simplified for greater convenience.
“My singular focus with the new website and email address was to make it as straightforward as possible for the people of Whatcom County to communicate with me,” said Ericksen, R-Ferndale. “Technology should make our lives easier, and my goal was to remove any barriers between constituents and my office.”
Ericksen’s website features a blog-post format; he noted that he’ll be adding new content on a regular basis, with written and video posts.
“One of the features of the website I’m most excited about is the Ericksen TV page. I record short video updates on a regular basis during session, and they’ll be collected on the page,” Ericksen said. “It’s a great way to give someone a flavor of what’s going on in Olympia in two or three minutes.
“In December I sent out a piece about titled the ‘12 Biggest Myths of Olympia,’ debunking some of the popular misconceptions about state government. That really resonated with folks, so I’m going to make it an ongoing series on the website. We’ll examine some of the claims made by elected officials and state agencies in real-time to determine whether they’re accurate.
“I represent our 42nd District most effectively when I receive direct input from constituents, so I hope people will take an opportunity to visit the new website and share their feedback.”