Senator steps down from leadership amid investigation

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A lawmaker who is the subject of an investigation into allegations of improper conduct has stepped down from his leadership positions on two Senate committees.

Senate Democratic leadership announced Wednesday that they were reconfiguring committees based on Sen. Kevin Ranker’s decision to step down from his chairmanship of the newly proposed Environment & Tourism Committee. He also is stepping down as vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee.

Ranker, a Democrat from Orcas Island, has been under investigation since October. Ann Larson, who served as Ranker’s legislative assistant for a year nearly a decade ago, said the investigation is related to sexual harassment and hostile workplace issues she faced.

Senate leaders say that the Environment and Tourism Committee will now be folded into two committees already in existence, with the environmental component being absorbed by the renamed Environment, Energy & Technology Committee and the tourism element becoming part of the Financial Institutions, Economic Development and Trade Committee.