Ranker introduces series of jobs, government reform legislation

News release by Michael Althauser, Senate Democratic Communications.

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, introduced a wide-ranging series of bills this week to create jobs and reform government. The proposals include legislation to clean up environmentally hazardous toxic sites across the state, reform and reaffirm our state’s commitment to working waterfronts and new reforms in teacher and principle evaluations.

SB 6211 reforms the State and Local Toxics Account law, allowing sites to initiate clean-up in a more timely fashion while protecting funds for the primary purpose of cleaning up toxic sites to create healthier communities. According to the Department of Ecology, there are 56 sites throughout the state that could commence cleanup within 4 to 24 months, creating 620 direct jobs and 517 indirect jobs immediately.

“Local economies need healthy communities in order to thrive,” said Ranker. “There are hundreds of sites in communities across the state with such high levels of contamination that they are currently unusable. This bill significantly reforms the site approval process allowing more sites to be cleaned-up now, creating hundreds of jobs and healthier communities.”

SB 6170 is designed to protect existing working waterfronts, improve environmental protections and create jobs in the process through a series of important government reforms. Under the bill, a single permit would replace several existing state and local permits required for marine area projects when the project creates a substantial number of jobs, maintains ongoing jobs and provides an environmental benefit. To be eligible for this voluntary permit path, the project must be consistent with the local government shoreline plans, be sited on commercial or industrial shorelines and prove that new development will have an environmental restoration component.

“This critical piece of economic development and government reform legislation is a win-win for our working waterfronts, the jobs they maintain and for the health of our marine resources,” said Ranker. “This bill meets a pressing need now by simplifying the permit process for marine area projects while incentivizing responsible stewardship of our natural resources.”

SB 6177 promotes instructional excellence in Washington’s public schools. It builds on the state’s new teacher and principal evaluation system, creating a rating system for teachers and calling for development of a program to support state-wide implementation of the evaluation systems. Ranker is the secondary sponsor and plans to assist the prime sponsor, Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, in the progression of the bill.

“Teacher evaluations limited to a simple satisfactory or unsatisfactory say little about actual classroom performance. Much effort has gone into reforming our current evaluation system to help educators and principles achieve their potential for growth through meaningful feedback,” said Ranker. “This bill takes research-based ideas gleaned from schools across the state, including Anacortes School District, who have seen success with a teacher evaluation pilot project and takes the first few steps in reforming our binary system of evaluation. An evaluation system that not only provides instructional feedback, but also helps teachers and principals develop their own professional growth program will lead to a better learning environment for all students.”

“While these bills vary in issue area, their overarching goal is the same,” said Ranker. “This is the beginning of a conversation to take place this session regarding fundamental change so the state can operate more efficiently, better serve the public and create jobs now.”



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