Dear Friends, 

As we look forward to the upcoming legislative session and all the great work to be done, each of us elected officials owe you a deep gratitude. Without your support and trust, we would not have the opportunity to work on your behalf.

This place we all call home is truly special, and it remains the honor of my lifetime to represent you and speak out for you in Olympia. Thank you so much for casting your vote, making your voice heard, and allowing me the privilege of fighting for the 40th LD!

Now, as we gear up for 2023 and the work to come, it’s important that we come into the new year prepared for the journey ahead of us. Last week we had committee days to get us started, and I am thrilled to roll up my sleeves to get started with uplifting our communities.

Keep an eye out for updates on my committee work this legislative session, and while my roles have expanded during my two terms in Olympia I want to highlight my work on the following committees: Appropriations; Rural Development, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, and the State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee.

I truly cannot wait to get together with my colleagues and continue the important work started over the last four years – setting up our communities, state, and country for the next seven generations to come.


Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday. 

“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy”
Rep. Debra Lekanoff

Newly Elected House Leadership 

In addition to committee days last week, the People’s House has also elected our Democratic Leadership for the upcoming term!

We have such an incredible caucus, and this group of elected officials is ready to get to work on your behalf. I want to take a moment to congratulate our new slate of leaders!

            Speaker Laurie Jinkins

            Majority Caucus Chair Lillian Ortiz-Self

            Majority Leader Joe Fitzgibbon

            Majority Whip Alex Ramel

            Majority Floor Leader Monica Jurado Stonier

            Deputy Majority Leader Larry Springer

Congratulations, Alex!

Congratulations to each of these incredible public servants! It is a pleasure to call you my colleagues and I am thrilled to stand beside you as we work on behalf of all Washingtonians.

For full House Leadership information, click here.

Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Summit

Last week, it was my pleasure to give the keynote address at the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) Tribal Leaders Climate Change Summit!

The 2022 National Tribal Leaders Climate Change Summit will convene leaders from Tribes and First Nations to advance tribal climate change policy and action on November 28-30, 2022. The Summit engaged Tribal leaders, citizens, staff, youth and collaborators in conversation about navigating the cultural, economic, and social challenges of climate change. 

It is always a pleasure to join ATNI for their events and workshops, and I am so grateful to all of the work they continue to do on behalf of Native peoples in the Northwest.

Our summit goals included:

  • Hearing from Tribal communities on the frontlines of climate change;
  • Exploring what a just transition looks like for diverse Tribal Nations; and
  • Discussing how Tribal sovereignty and co-management can advance climate action

I was glad to talk about the importance of tribes and tribal sovereignty in addressing climate change, how Washington’s tribes are enacting change to address this environmental issue, and how we’re working together on a government-to-government level.

Thank you to everyone at the Summit for joining and engaging in this important discourse, and to everyone at ATNI who helped to put this on!

Summit Partners included the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Bureau of Indian Affairs, PNW Tribal Climate Change Network, Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, Oregon State University, First Nations Development Institute, The Nature Conservancy, NRCS, OSU Forestry, University of Washington, Washington Environmental Council, the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, Conservation Northwest, and Natural Resource Defense Council.

ATNI was founded in 1953 and is a nonprofit organization representing 57 Northwest tribal governments from Oregon, Idaho, Washington, southeast Alaska, Northern California and Western Montana. 

Learn more about them here.

Washington’s Green Amendment 

Last week, it was also my pleasure to join Western Washington University to be a part of their Environmental Lecture series alongside activist, author, and founder of the Green Amendment Movement Maya K van Rossum!

Thank you for joining us, Maya!

The talk focused on discussing and inspiring a new tool for environmental preservation, one that will provide a new way of thinking about, and pursuing, environmental protection from a policy as well as a legal perspective.

A Green Amendment would be a constitutional environmental rights amendment added to the Bill of Rights section of the state constitution that would recognize the rights of all people in the state to pure water, clean air, a stable climate, and healthy environments. 

Here is the text of our current bill

Earlier this year, I was proud to introduce the Washington Green Amendment, which would amend Article I of our state constitution to recognize the environmental rights of all people of Washington for both present and future generations.

This is an important addition to our rights as Washingtonians, and I continue working with my colleagues to pass this important Amendment to our state constitution that will help us protect this beautiful place we all call home for the next seven generations to come.

For more information about a potential Green Amendment for Washington, click here.

Nation-to-Nation Relationships 

As we’ve discussed recently, engaging Washington’s tribes in discussions around energy infrastructure and renewable energy development is incredibly important, and something I take extremely seriously as one of the Native members of the People’s House.

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of meeting with the Nez Perce Tribe Vice Chair Shannon Wheeler. Shannon and I have worked together many times over the years, and collaborating has always been fruitful and left me feeling optimistic.

Thank you, Vice-Chairman Wheeler!

In addition to discussing the future of renewable energy and energy infrastructure, we also discussed the treaty rights of the Nez Perce Tribe and an investment in salmon recovery throughout the region.

Any salmon recovery efforts need to be founded in sustainable steps, and we must move through the path of safely and smartly removing the Snake River Dams and restoring the natural pathways our salmon take each year to return home.

Thank you, Vice-Chairman Wheeler, for sitting down and talking through these important issues with me! I know together we can accomplish a great deal for our communities, and for our salmon.

To read more about the Snake River Dams and the need to remove them, click here.

Putting Our Communities Front and Center!

Communities of color and low-income communities are on the frontlines of the climate and environmental crisis. We are advocating for our right to a healthy environment for all, and we are doing so through the lens of rooting out inequities everywhere that we can.

With that in mind, I was thrilled to meet with Guillermo Roger Jr., a Government and Legislative Activist for Front and Centered, to discuss diversity and equity in our legislation that will help Washingtonians on a community level.

It was so wonderful to talk to Guillermo, and we covered an incredible breadth of important topics – from equity, diversity, and sovereignty around the Statewide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, to the Equity Disparity Map and identifying next steps that we can take through the HEAL Act.  

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me, Guillermo! It was a pleasure to see his passion and dedication to helping uplift the communities in Washington that need it most. Together we are committed to building the future we need by ensuring all state funds live up to the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act goal of directing that 40 percent of environment-related funds create environmental benefits to vulnerable populations and overburdened communities.

According to Front and Centered’s Website:

“We envision a Just Transition to a future where our communities and the earth are healed and thriving, our people have dignified work, and our government values, respects, and represents us. We are working for sovereignty and self-sufficiency for our communities so that future generations can thrive. We strive to make racial inequities on all issues a thing of the past, and to ensure that people of color and indigenous people are at the forefront of building equitable, democratic systems and policies that work for their communities.”

To learn more about Front and Centered, click here.

Return to Legislating in Person!

This week, I was so lucky to have the chance to once again legislate in person!

Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have done our work virtually. While I am happy that we took this important step, and glad we were able to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19, I am so happy to be back in person!

It is so incredible to see my old colleagues in this face-to-face setting, back at the Capitol. It’s so important that we are able to do this work and have these discussions in person – and this week I was able to sign onto a bill from Representative Jacquelin Maycumber from the 7th LD!

Many of you may not know, but one of the oldest protocols in Olympia for partnering on bills is for a legislator to walk around with a blue sheet and ask their colleagues to sign on – that’s where you see the co-sponsor language come from!

Representative Maycumber brought us a bill that will help apprenticeships and unions across the state, supporting our workers as they grow and prepare for work!

Thank you, Representative Maycumber! I cannot wait to continue working in person with the great elected officials you have sent alongside me to Olympia.

Protect Your Family This Holiday Season!

With the holidays upon us, many of us are set to start traveling to see our loved ones – for their sake and yours, make sure you are safe! The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a new COVID-19 booster shot that will is currently available – the Moderna booster for those who are 18 and older, and the Pfizer-BioNTech booster for those 12 and older.

Individuals who completed their most recent round of COVID-19 vaccination at least two months ago are eligible for these new boosters.

These new shots target both the original strain of COVID-19, as well as the omicron variants that make up most current cases in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) signed off on these new shots as well.

Getting vaccinated remains the most effective way of protecting yourself and those around you from COVID-19, and it is important that we continue to do our part to keep our communities safe. If you are able, I would highly recommend you get vaccinated with the new vaccine.

Doing your part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 remains important, and I am so grateful for the continued efforts we are all making to protect one another. For more information on where you can find a vaccine, click here.

Helping Our Children in Need

Today I want to take a moment to highlight an incredible organization operating right here in the 40th LD.

The Sakgit Preschool and Resource Center (SPARC) focuses on individual support for children with developmental delays, disabilities, and chronic health conditions. Their programs ensure that all children receive individualized learning opportunities, creating an inclusive and universal approach to early learning and intervention.

Now they are poised to grow and help support even more of our children. The work we do today must always keep the next seven generations to come in the front of our mind. SPARC is one of those organizations that embodies these ideals, and I’m proud to stand behind them as they grow and help the coming generations.

It has been my pleasure to work with Amanda Sloan, their Executive Director, as we move forward in expanding support for these incredible children!

For more information about SPARC and how you can support then, click here.

The Skagit Preschool and Resource Center was founded in 1964 by a group of dedicated parents of children between the ages of five and eighteen with severe disabilities who did not have a school experience available to them. 

The program initially began primarily as childcare but gradually became a school experience when they hired teachers. This community-based program was replicated in several other counties and still exists today.

Promoting Affordable Housing

As we move into the next legislative session, and issue that has always been at the forefront of my mind must be one of our priorities. I will always work to ensure that all who want to call this place home have an affordable place to live, and that will continue as long as I am lucky enough to work on your behalf.

Recently, I was lucky enough to help organize a meeting with legislators on the importance of addressing housing in our upcoming work. It was my pleasure to work with Commissioner Galloway on legislative tools to help our county, and our communities!

Thank you for your work, Commissioner Galloway!

This is an issue that is near and dear to my heart, and we must continue to address housing on every level. Making sure that our housing is affordable starts long before mortgages and moving trucks – it starts with blueprints, materials, labor, and so much more.

My kitchen table is always open to everyone, and I will continue working to lower housing costs for all Washingtonians. There are so many tools we can use to lessen housing costs for our communities, and we are going to continue working on this as a priority issue at the county level, and the state level.

Supporting State Legislators Across the Country 

Whenever I have the chance to attend an event held by the National Council of State Legislators (NCSL), I leave so excited to get back to Washington and continue the great work that my colleagues and I have started.

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the NCSL pre-legislative session event!

In addition to collaborating with other State Legislators, working with NCSL also gives me the chance to work closely with the National Caucus of Native American Legislators, connecting with other Native elected officials from across the country that share my passion for uplifting our communities.

At this event, it was exciting to sit with my fellow Native legislators to discuss topics ranging from Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women to environmental and natural resource protection, to understanding the different legal practices that states and tribes use across the country.

Make a Donation