The decisions we must make during the 2014 legislative session must represent the core values of a majority of Washingtonians - developing a comprehensive plan to fully fund education, protecting women's health choices and equal rights and protecting our environment. These fundamental core values will again be the issues that dominate conversation this year.
The good news is the solutions and necessary votes exist to solve all of these problems. The difficult news is that last year, some of these same solutions to these problems were blocked from even receiving a vote. It is my hope that this year we can come together to allow critical legislation such as the Dream Act and the Reproductive Parity Act to receive a vote - allowing the full Senate an opportunity to vote on these important bills.
The Dream Act would allow high school graduates whose parents are undocumented the same access to financial aid for college that all other Washington high school grads have. This bill received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House on Monday with 71 yes votes - 16 of which were cast by Republicans.
The Reproductive Parity Act ensures that women and families have their full range of healthcare choices covered by their insurance. It passed the House by a wide margin last year, and should pass with similar support this year. While a closer vote in the Senate, there are the votes to pass this critical bill and it deserves to be considered by the full Senate.
Transportation is crucial to our state and for our area. The collapse of the Skagit River bridge serves as a reminder to us all that the Senate absolutely must pass a comprehensive transportation package and begin negotiations with the House. Both business and labor have called for action and Senate Democrats agree.
On education, we received word last week from the State Supreme Court that we are continuing to fall short of the state's obligation to fully fund K-12 education. I believe we must immediately begin developing a bold and thoughtful plan for how we are going to address our massive educational funding problem.
While some have argued that this past year and the year before us represents a bipartisan compromise, I would argue... at what cost? If compromise and bipartisanship means we abandon the core values of a vast majority of Washingtonians such as defending and advancing women's reproductive choice, equality and the environment then I want no part of it. In the end, it does not matter if it is a Democratic idea or a Republican idea, it simply matters that it is a good idea.
We have serious work to tackle in 2014 and fewer than 60 days in which to complete it. It's time to put people ahead of party and power and finish our unfinished business.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
State Sen. Kevin Ranker represents Washington's 40th legislative district, which comprises all of San Juan County and significant portions of Whatcom and Skagit counties, including Mount Vernon, Burlington, Anacortes and much of Bellingham.