Tag: State Sen. Kevin Ranker
It started out as a bill to protect employees and job applicants from having to disclose Facebook and other social media information to bosses and prospective bosses.
The original text of the bill declares that employers have no right to demand social media access from their workers and their job applicants.
But now, according to this report from AP, business groups have proposed an amendment that would allow employers to get workers’ social media information if they are investigating workplace misconduct, such as supplying trade secrets to competitors.
UPDATE: The amendment was introduced Tuesday, April 2 and withdrawn the next day. Here is AP’s followup report.
I’m not sure of the status of this amendment. The link to it on the Legislature’s page contains the word “withdrawn,” so perhaps this proposal is dead for now. Stay tuned.
“Under the amendment, employees would be present when their social network profiles are searched and whatever information found is kept confidential, unless it is relevant to a criminal investigation,” the AP says.
Hmm. It seems to me that if the purpose of these social media searches is detection of criminal behavior, a search warrant is required. Law enforcement agencies can’t get a search warrant without some evidence to back it up, and evidence of criminality that is improperly obtained by those agencies is not admissible in court, under many circumstances.
UPDATE CONTINUED: Apparently this type of concern prompted the amendment’s sponsor to pull it.
This is probably just another footnote to our society’s ongoing effort to figure out how, and how not, to use social media. But this kind of thing bears watching.
By John Stark
Backers of SB 5805 insist that the measure has nothing to do with the Gateway Pacific Terminal coal export pier prop0sed for Whatcom County’s Cherry Point, but State Sen. Kevin Ranker is convinced otherwise.
Ranker, D-40th, says the backers are telling the truth when they say it had its origins in a desire to jump-start a long-stalled gravel-shipping pier project in Jefferson County. But that doesn’t change the fact that the bill’s language could also be applied to Gateway Pacific, Ranker said. He also suspects that many of the senators and lobbyists supporting the bill are well aware of that fact.
“This bill would remove Whatcom County from the decision-making process” on Gateway Pacific, Ranker said Thursday, Feb. 28. On Friday, Ranker filed several amendments meant to remove its potential impact on the coal terminal.
The bill, bill summary, bill digest and proposed amendments can all be viewed here.
State Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-32nd, and State Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-23rd, joined in that effort.
Among other things, the amendments would make sure that local governments must consent to an expedited permit process for a project deemed to be of special economic significance. Ranker’s amendments take the further step of stripping the bill of language that would make “transportation” and “basic commodity transportation” projects eligible for express-lane service in the regulatory process.
Here is an earlier blog post in which backers of the bill downplay its significance for Gateway Pacific, while stopping short of an outright denial that it could affect that project.
Ranker said he thinks it likely that the Republican-controlled (sorta, kinda controlled) Senate will pass SB 5805, but it won’t get through the House, and even if it does, it won’t get past the veto pen of Gov. Jay Inslee.
The Senate may vote on the bill today–Friday March 1.
UPDATE: Ranker’s legislative assistant, Kendall Farley, said the bill and the proposed amendments may come before the full Senate next week.
UPDATE NUMERO DOS: Gateway Pacific spokesman Craig Cole said he checked with SSA’s lobbyist in Olympia and was told that the company is not playing a role in pushing for the bill’s passage.
“It’s not our deal,” Cole said.
Asked if the bill could benefit Gateway Pacific if passed, Cole said he had no idea.
By John Stark
A Washington State Senate bill calling for expedited processing of permits for–among other things–”basic commodity transportation” is getting a lot of attention from opponents of the Gateway Pacific Terminal coal export pier proposed for Cherry Point.
The bill, SB 5805, was introduced Feb. 15, 2013 and passed along to the Rules Committee after a perfunctory Feb. 21 hearing in the Trade and Economic Committee. The bill comes up at 30:24 in the TVW video. Committee members make passing reference to coal projects and constituent concerns about it, but there is no definitive discussion of whether the bill would have any impact on those projects.
The bill modifies language in existing law for expediting the permit process in ways that would seem to apply to Gateway Pacific–especially the insertion of new language that would make “basic commodity transportation” facilities eligible for the fast-track.
State Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-44th, is a co-sponsor of 5805. Hobbs told me that 5805 has been introduced in previous sessions as part of an effort to get approval for a “pit to pier” gravel shipping terminal in Jefferson County that has beern simmering for many years. Here is some info on that project on the Jefferson County website; here is a critical view of it from a citizens’ organization, the Hood Canal Coalition. (Nobody mentioned this project during the committee hearing, unless I missed it.)
“Coal was not in mind when this bill was drafted,” Hobbs said.
Hobbs endorsed the Gateway Pacific proposal before his 2012 race for a 1st District House seat, in which he garnered 7 percent of the vote in the primary. He said he didn’t think SB 5805 would have any effect on Gateway Pacific.
Josh Swanson, a lobbyist for the International Union of Operating Engineers, also supports both 5805 and Gateway Pacific. Like Hobbs, he said the two are not related; 5805 is about gravel shipments in Jefferson County, and backers of the Jefferson County project have been trying to get this legislation passed for many years.
Swanson said he wasn’t sure if 5805 could also benefit Gateway Pacific if it becomes law, and he understands why Gateway Pacific opponents are worried that it might.
“I certainly think the argument could be made,” Swanson said. “I understand that.”
Meanwhile, Gateway Pacific opponents are sounding the alarm on Facebook, urging people to contact legislators to voice their opposition to 5805.
State Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, responded with a Facebook post of his own:
“Thanks to each of you who have written to me here on FB and through my office regarding Senate Bill 5805 that could allow permit streamlining of large scale projects such as the Coal Export Facility at Cherry Point or the Pit to Pier project.
“Know that I am strongly opposed to the bill and am helping lead the opposition here in the Senate. Make no mistake… This is a bad bill and each of us needs to do anything in our power to make sure that it never gets to the Governor’s desk.
“I will continue to work tirelessly to oppose this bill.”
I have contacted Ranker seeking additional comment.
UPDATE: Mike Ennis, government affairs director for the Association of Washington Business, also said that Gateway Pacific was not on the minds of those who drafted 5805, and he scoffed at the notion that it might benefit the coal terminal.
“I think it’s just scare tactics by the enviros,” Ennis said.
But when he was asked if Gateway Pacific could benefit from the bill if it becomes law, Ennis stopped short of a flat denial.
“I don’t think they could, but that’s as far as I’ll go,” Ennis said.
The Association of Washington Business is also on record in support of Gateway Pacific.
Republican candidates at the Wednesday, July 18 Whatcom County Tea Party forum joined in on the widespread criticism of a quote from President Barack Obama that is being interpreted as belittling the contributions of American business people.
The Obama quote that is getting all the attention runs like this: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Republicans are interpreting this comment to mean, “You did little or nothing to build your own business,” which would certainly be an absurd thing for the President to say.
John Swapp, business owner and Republican challenger to State Sen. Kevin Ranker in the 40th District, observed: “I didn’t have any help from the government. The government was in my way most of the time.”
To me, Obama’s comment makes a bit more sense when you see it in context. Here’s a longer excerpt reported by the Washington Post:
“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. ( emphasis added.) Somebody else made that happen.”
Not one of Obama’s more eloquent moments, to be sure. But when you look at the offending sentence, it doesn’t sound as silly. It looks like ”You didn’t build that” is supposed to mean, “The government, not you, built the roads and bridges that enable your business to exist.”
Swapp, at least, seemed aware of the full context.
“Yeah, I drive over a lot of roads and bridges, but so do a lot of people,” he said. He went on to observe that the business owners generate more than their share of the tax revenues that build those roads and bridges.
Matt Krogh, Democratic challenger to State Rep. Vincent Buys in the 42nd District, also referred to the wider context of Obama’s remark, attributing his own success in life to public school teachers as well as roads and bridges.
“The success that I have in life I owe to a lot of other people and I’m glad of it,” Krogh said.
Washington state boaters are bombarding State Rep. Jeff Morris and State Sen. Kevin Ranker with complaints, after the two men unveiled plans to use taxes and fees on boaters to help pay for a proposed new Center for Marine Innovation.
Morris’s plan, HB 2444, would shift $150,000 from the Recreation Resources Account that gets money from boaters’ fuel taxes. Those taxes would not be raised. But Recreational Boaters of Washington is asking members to express their opposition to the measure, because as they see it the money is supposed to be used for boating facilities, such as launch ramps.
Morris said he has heard their complaints, but he thinks that the shift is a reasonable use for a small part of the money from the $17 million fund.
He said the proposed new center should benefit boaters. Among other things, it will be charged with finding solutions to the ethanol fuel headache that boaters often complain about. Ethanol added to gasoline can cause problems in marine engines because it attracts water, Morris said. Despite that, even the gasoline sold at marine fueling stations often contains enough ethanol to cause problems for some boaters.
The new center would also help to focus the state’s ongoing efforts to support the marine trades industry that is an important job-creator in northwest Washington, Morris said.
Ranker’s bill, SB 6264, takes a different approach. His bill would add an additional $1 to the cost of each boat registration.
“I know they (boaters) are unhappy with Kevin’s funding source and they are unhappy with mine,” Morris said.
State Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, has invited his 40th District constituents to a town hall meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 26 at Fairhaven Middle School, 110 Park Ridge Road.
In a press release, Ranker said he wants to have a discussion of the state’s ongoing budget challenges and the effects on K-12 education, social services and other programs critical to local communities.
A similar event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at Anacortes Public Library.
We’re at the point in the legislative session in which bills die by the dozen, because they have failed to move out of their house of origin by last week’s deadline.
Ranker’s dead bill defined “small scale” as no more than two cows, nine sheep, or nine goats, and exempted such mini-producers only if they do not advertise their milk for sale. It sounds as though the bill was meant to enable hobbyists to sell a little milk to friends and neighbors without being in violation of state law.
State Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-40th, is among 17 sponsors of SB 5274, which would regulate the operations of “pregnancy centers” maintained by pro-life groups that encourage women not to choose abortions. A similar proposal is HB 1366 in the House.
Pro-choice advocates contend that these centers masquerade as health clinics and promote their anti-abortion agenda to women who should be getting information about all their legal and medical options.
According to NARAL, a national pro-choice group, the bill:
- Requires the centers to disclose that they do not provide service or referrals for abortion or comprehensive birth control and that they do not provide medical care for pregnant women.
- Requires the centers to keep any medical information they collect private.
- Requires the centers to provide pregnancy test results immediately.
The groups operating these centers argue that they are now providing millions of dollars’ worth of pregnancy testing and counseling to women in need, and that the provisions of the bill create potentially threatening civil liability for them. Among other things, the bill authorizes civil suits from women who contend they were damaged by the center’s activities, and give courts the power to triple any actual damages awarded.
Senate Bill 5194, sponsored by State Sen. Kevin Ranker and 13 other state senators, would impose new restrictions on sale and use of phosphorus fertilizer if passed by the Legislature and signed into law.
Among other things, the law would require immediate cleanup if anyone accidentally applies phosphorus-laden fertilizer to impervious surface, such as pavement.
The bill was scheduled for a Senate committee hearing this morning, Jan. 28.
Phosphorus-laden runoff is the biggest pollution problem facing Lake Whatcom, the source of drinking water for Bellingham and its outskirts.