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Ranker elected chairman of the Natural Resources and Marine Waters Committee

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan, has been elected by majority Democrats to chair the recently rechristened Natural Resources and Marine Waters Committee and to serve as assistant whip for the Democratic Caucus in the state Senate.

Ranker served as the committee’s vice chairman last year when it was the Natural Resources, Ocean & Recreation Committee. The committee has been renamed to reflect the expanded focus to include all marine waters and shoreline issues, including the Puget Sound, in addition to all of the historic duties such as natural resources, fisheries and timber.

“The issues being discussed by the Natural Resources & Marine Waters Committee are important for the residents of Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan counties,” Ranker said in a press release. “The committee will set the direction and flow of legislation that affects everything from recreational and commercial fishing, maritime business, and shoreline management, to land issues involving the management of our minerals, forests and state parks.”

Many of these issues, particularly the shoreline management and land use matters, also directly relate to other important economic drivers such as real estate and tourism.

As assistant whip, Ranker will help maintain the direction of the caucus – which means creating economic growth and jobs. Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan counties now have a voice in Senate Democratic leadership.

Ranker’s election as chairman was made official Dec. 6. The 2011 legislative session will begin on Jan. 10.

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