Earlier this month Washington State kicked off Phase 1 of our “Safe Start” reopening process across the state, with additional guidelines put in place for businesses to resume operations in a way that protects our workers and our communities. You can find more information on at https://coronavirus.wa.gov.
Just a few days ago, Governor Inslee announced the start of our Contact Tracing Initiative, an important part of monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and moving past Phase 1 of our reopening plan. This is to ensure that all those who come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 are informed and able to take steps to protect themselves, their loved ones, and our communities.
Although the “Stay Home and Stay Healthy” order is still in place, the Governor has taken steps to open our State. Click here for more information.
Here’s what you need to know:
- All essential businesses are open including grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and food producers.
- Additional business and recreation activities are allowed under the various phases of the Governor’s Safe Start reopening plan. The state is currently in Phase 1. Some counties have been approved to enter Phase 2.
- Beginning May 5, the governor authorized partial reopening of certain recreational activities including golf and day use at state parks and public lands for fishing, hunting and other recreational purposes.
- Beginning May 14, the governor authorized the following: outdoor, staffed tennis; guided tours and instruction for ATV, paddle sports, fishing and horseback; go-cart tracks, ORV/motocross and participant-only motorsports; and other substantially similar outdoor activities.
- Employers, workers and the public are required to adhere to specific health and safety guidelines. For more information:
Science speaks the truth, and I’m proud of the work we are doing, both in Olympia and across the State, to restart our economy and reopen our businesses in a safe, responsible way. So many have made sacrifices for the benefit of our communities, and I am eternally grateful for all that we have done to help one another in this difficult time.
Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday.
“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy”
Rep. Debra Lekanoff
Update on the Intalco Smelter
A few weeks ago, I wrote to you about the Alcoa Corporation’s announcement that the Intalco Works smelter near Ferndale will be closing by the end of July – a loss of 700 jobs in Whatcom County.
Since then, a growing coalition of federal, state, and local lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have been meeting with union representatives, workers, Alcoa representatives, and others to find solutions to these upcoming layoffs. In a briefing with Congresswoman Suzan DelBene’s office, we looked at finding common ways between state and federal representatives to address the situation. In the past few years the company has been under financial stress, but they continued to employ and provide financial stability to families from Blaine to the Skagit.
I stand with my friends in the 42nd district, the Alcoa workers and their families, and all who will have their lives impacted by the Intalco closure.
Rep. Sharon Shewmake has been a strong, leading voice in the effort to bring everyone to the table in order to build a strong pathway forward. Thank you, Rep. Shewmake, for your continued work on this important issue. I look forward to working together on this and other pressing issues for Washington State.
Tele-Tuesday With Debra!
Join me on Facebook Live for Tele-Tuesday with Debra and local experts and leaders!
As a way to virtually stay connected with community, we’re hosting Tele-Tuesdays to discuss issues that are at the top of all of our minds.
On Tuesday, May 26 at 12:15 PM I’ll be sitting down to discuss housing and homelessness with local experts and leaders. I am excited to be joined by Greg Winter, Lisa Byers, Rep. Nicole Macri, and all of you.
So grab some lunch, bring your questions, and we’ll “see” you on Facebook Live! Click here to RSVP.
Addressing Farmworker Safety
Washington State is working hard with all parties to engage in protecting our essential workers, and for Northwestern Washington this is a priority. For the past six weeks, I have convened my close colleagues, Rep. Mike Sells (Chair of the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee), Sen. Karen Keiser (Chair of the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee), Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, the Governor’s Office, state agencies, migrant community organizations, growers organizations and other stakeholders to find ways to increase farmworker protections.
Together, we have focused on finding solutions to the shortfalls of PPE and sanitation productions. In meeting with growers and farmworkers, we learned they shared the common concern that we were short in supplies at a state and national level, our distribution chains were clogged with overwhelming orders, and we needed waivers for distillers to make the products. With our state facing a crisis, we put our essential workers in harm’s way, and it is up to us to stand together to ensure we protect one another.
For us in the 40th, I am grateful for the expertise of the Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland, their connection with growers and distributors, and with state agencies who fight hard to get sanitation products to those who need it. Because all of us came to the table, shared opportunities to work together, and built relationships we were able to set up a plan to get thousands of masks from the Governor’s agencies to our northern farms. It is important for me to ensure we are coordinating and sharing best practices that will benefit everyone and protect those who are so important to keeping our communities running.
It’s not stopping there, as our farmworkers and their families are some of the lowest paid employees and the hardest working folks in our northern areas. I am honored to work with the Department of Agriculture Director Derek Sandison, our federal delegation, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, and Congressman Rick Larsen to advocate for the community. This most recent Congressional action, the HEROES Bill, has over 1800 pages focusing on economic stimulus, with a large portion on agriculture. We have heard the President call this “dead on arrival,” but we will still continue to push for the necessary policies to help our neighbors. One example of how we are advocating to remove barriers is that future federal stimulus checks must include protections for those who pay taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), a group that includes undocumented immigrants and their families.
Last Week’s Events
Last week I had the opportunity to speak (virtually!) at a number of wonderful events, and I am grateful for all the opportunities to interact with you and others across the 40th LD and Washington State.
In the 2020 Legislative Session, we were able to hold on to funding in the budget for our Net Ecological Gain study under the Department of Fish and Wildlife. This last week we held our first Advisory Team meeting and sat down with the Governor’s Office and state agencies to roll up our sleeves and begin the science study and legal review for returning habitats to levels that will sustain salmon recovery.
The Growth Management Act was a big part of the 60-day 2020 Session, and it will be a priority for many sessions to come. Work continues with state agencies and environmental stakeholders as we hold regular meetings on ways to modernize the Growth Management Act (GMA) to include robust salmon recovery efforts, and we continue to discuss how we can leave the environment in better shape than we found it through the GMA.
My goals are to reach out to community and state leaders to ensure we network and come together during these tough times. For the past few months, my colleagues and I have spent weekends hosting Zoom town halls, tele-coffees, and visiting with local organizations to share information.
It was an honor to join the Fidalgo Democrats, and to be invited to join Anacortes City Councilman Anthony Young and Terry Kyllo in their discussion of the Cultural Inclusion Coalition that they started in 2019. One of the greatest accomplishments for Washingtonians is the growth of diversity, equity and inclusion, and I thank the Fidalgo Democrats for providing a platform for a healthy discussion about the Cultural Inclusion Coalition and the experiences of all of our panelists. I shared with my friends that my experience on the Floor of the People’s House was one of hope. We look across the House and the Senate floors and we truly see the result of voters electing officials that represent our State’s values and future.
It was such a pleasure to take part in Sen. Marko Liias’ Virtual Road Trip on Facebook alongside him and Sen. Joe Nguyen!
Sen. Joe Nguyen from the 34th LD and I participated in Sen. Marko Liias’ virtual road trip on Facebook. Sen. Liias started out as a House Representative and he has served his community for several sessions. His district consists of some of the strongest economic industries that stretch from the Everett Ports to the Boeing Facilities and Everett Hospital. His partnerships include the sovereign relationship with the Tulalip Tribes, the largest employer in Marysville. Senator Liias is a leader for our Freshman Legislative Class. It was a pleasure to be invited as a progressive voice in the Legislature – we had a great conversation about diverse representation and how to best work together for the interests of all of Washington.