Politics Blog

Environmental scorecard shows sharp division between Dems, GOP

Washington Conservation Voters recently released its 2013-14 Legislative Scorecard, which scores legislators (obviously) based on how they voted on bills that would affect the environment.

WCV selected eight House bills and 12 Senate bills, took a position on each, and scored legislators based on what percentage of their votes aligned with the WCV recommendation.

In what is probably the cleanest-cut insight into how sharply environmental issues fall along party lines, the scores varied widely between the three Republicans and the three Democrats in the two legislative districts (40th, 42nd) that represent Whatcom County. 

The scores:

Among senators, Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, ranked 10th in a field of 55 with a score of 90 percent. He was excused from two of the 12 environmental votes, and he voted for a bill WCV opposed. HB 1652, considered last year, would have allowed developers to defer payment of impact fees to local governments. This was intended to boost the building industry at a time when the recession was still more present, but environmentalists opposed the bill because they argued it would promote urban sprawl.

Ranker, in an interview today (Tuesday, May 13), said he heard a compelling argument from builders in Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan counties that this was a good bill.

Ranker emphasized that while he is "very environmentally minded" when he considers bills, he isn't solely driven by that concern. He is attentive to builders, too, he said, when it comes to spurring the economy. 

In 2011-12, Ranker scored 100 with WCV.

The other Whatcom senator, Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, scored an 8 out of 100 because he got one vote "right," in WCV's view. He voted for SB 5802, which created the Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup tasked with finding ways to reduce the state's global-warming-inducing carbon emissions. Ericksen, a self-described "climate agnostic," hasn't seen eye-to-eye with the three Democrats, including Ranker and Gov. Jay Inslee, on the five member workgroup. Ericksen ended up speaking against an executive order Inslee announced last month, which came out of the workgroup's majority report.

On the House side, Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, and Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes, scored 88. Both voted the same way Ranker did on the bill that would have allowed builders to defer impact fee payments. The bill passed both houses but was vetoed by Inslee.

The 42nd District representatives are both Republican. Jason Overstreet of Lynden scored a 13. He voted with WCV on the "Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act," which would have prevented harmful chemicals from being used in flame retardants. The legislation didn't get through the Republican-led Senate.

Rep. Vincent Buys, also of Lynden, scored a zero. His career score, in fact, is a zero -- something only seven representatives of the 107 evaluated in 2013-14 can claim.

Review the scores from this page on the WCV website.