Dear Friends, 

Today is truly a Fantastic Friday, and I’d like to share with you a few words about this tremendous step that I, and the State Legislature have taken – specifically, I’d like to show you the new door to my office!

Look at the names on the door.

For the first time ever Washington state has acknowledged the traditional name, and a non-English name, and used it on state property. They have never acknowledged another language, nor any cultural language to be used in recognition of a Native American. We were always told to use English.

I made Washington change today.

Washington State recognizes my cultural name, Xix’Chi’See. This is the traditional name my ancestors passed down through the Tlingit houses of the Raven and Owl. Thank you, Washington state for seeing me.

Representation Matters


Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday. 

“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy”
Rep. Debra Lekanoff

Delayed Flights Across the Country

Earlier this week, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered a nationwide pause on domestic flight departures after their NOTAM (Notice to Air Missions) system went out. The NOTAM system alerts pilots and airports of real-time hazards, meaning that flying without it up and running would have been extremely dangerous.

The pause on flight departures delayed or cancelled thousands of flights across the country and around the world – nearly 7,000 around the world by noon eastern on Wednesday – though flights resumed by about 9 a.m. eastern Wednesday morning.

Following a preliminary investigation, the Federal Aviation Administration said that a “damaged database file” in a key system likely caused the outage.

According to NPR, “The FAA defines a NOTAM as “a notice containing information essential to personnel concerned with flight operations but not known far enough in advance to be publicized by other means.” Pilots might receive NOTAMs about closed runways, large flocks of birds, a plume of volcanic ash, ice on a runway, or lights on tall buildings and towers.”

This was an extremely unfortunate development as millions were set to travel across the United States on Wednesday. This should also act as a reminder that as we jet off across the country and around the world, we rely on countless dedicated individuals who work tirelessly every day to ensure that we are able to travel so freely.

Thank you to all who worked so diligently to get our flights back up in the air!

Whatcom Legislative Priorities 

Last week, we talked about the legislative priorities for Anacortes and Skagit County, looking at what our local governments want to accomplish in 2023 and beyond. Now, I’d like to share with you the 2023 Legislative Objectives for Whatcom County!

Here are the Legislative Objectives for Whatcom County in 2023:

  • Capital Budget Priorities
    • Preserve MTCA funding for environmental cleanup projects and brownfield redevelopment efforts
    • Continued funding for countywide broadband infrastructure
    • Provide funding for What-COMM Dispatch Facility
  • Behavioral Health
    • Support greater access to substance abuse treatment and crisis services
    • Support state investment in the planning, construction, operations, and maintenance of regional
    • behavioral health facilities
    • Continue state funding for alternative response programs
    • Increase funding for behavioral health services and homeless crisis response
  • Climate Action and Environmental Sustainability
    • Continued fiscal and policy support for energy efficiency and clean energy transition and development
    • Grant funding to support climate adaption and resilience projects, including funding for fully integrating
    • climate change planning into Comprehensive Plans and other Growth Management Act documents
    • Provide funding for watershed planning efforts, including the Water Solutions Table and floodplain mitigation efforts
  • Housing Affordability and Child Care
    • Advocate for policies and funding that increase housing affordability
    • Provide prudent flexibility in County Investment Pool Funds to invest in community needs, including
    • Affordable Housing and childcare projects
    • Provide funding for childcare facilities and operation, including subsidies
  • Economic Development and Fiscal Sustainability
    • Extend the .09% local sales and use tax for public facilities.
    • Protect and enhance local revenue sharing options
  • Criminal Justice
    • Support funding for criminal and civil justice assistance and alternatives
    • Support state investments to help with the costs of the Blake decision
    • Continue to improve legislation addressing law enforcement response
    • Encourage the State to provide funding for local government’s Criminal Justice capital facilities

Taking Caution in the Rain 

This week, we have seen an incredible amount of rainfall up and down the West Coast, and my heart goes out to those in California who are dealing with tremendous amounts of rain and flooding.

We have felt our fair share of harsh weather this week here in Washington State as well – according to the National Weather Service in Seattle, the Whatcom County lowlands were expected to receive a half-inch or more of rain yesterday alone.

This type of weather brings up a number of additional concerns, including the potential for landslides and avalanche conditions in the Mount Baker Wilderness. Rain is expected to continue through the weekend, but not as heavy as yesterday.

Please use caution as we make our way through this bad weather! If you are unsure, always err on the side of caution and stay home. Be careful around bodies of water like the Nooksack River, and always make sure you are aware of your surroundings as you drive.

Recycling Your Christmas Tree!

Friends, this time of year it is always difficult to say goodbye to the holidays. While we look back at all of the great times celebrating with loved ones, it always begs the question – what to do with our Christmas tree?

This year, Big Lake Trees is asking customers to bring back their trees after taking them down, with plans to run used trees through a chipper to be used as mulch to protect seedlings being planter this year.

This is a fantastic way to put your Christmas tree to good use – and help usher in the next generation of Christmas trees that will help us celebrate in the future! Big Lake Trees is located on Highway 9 in Mount Vernon.

For more information, check out their website here.

Congratulations Navajo Nation President Nygren! 

This week, I would also like to take a moment to congratulate the new President of the Navajo Nation, Buu Nygren!

President Nygren was sworn in earlier this week after campaigning on promises to deliver water, electricity and broadband to tens of thousands of residents who don’t have it. President Nygren has not held political office before, but was a Vice Presidential candidate in 2018.

Current Vice President, Richelle Montoya, is the first woman to hold the position.

According to NPR:

“Nygren beat out incumbent President Jonathan Nez in the tribe’s general election by about 3,500 votes. Nygren was joined by his wife Jasmine, daughter Evelyn and grandmother Marilyn Slim as he took the oath of office during a ceremony that highlighted the challenges he grew up with and, later, academic and business successes that helped him ascend as the youngest person to hold the tribal presidency.”

Congratulations, President Nygren and Vice President Montoya!

Skagit Valley Food Co-Op Donation 

Earlier this week, the Skagit Valley Food Co-Op announced a major donation of $100,000 to Viva Farms!

According to GoSkagit, “The donation came about after the co-op’s Board of Trustees asked about how the co-op could make healthy food more accessible and how it could play a larger role in local agriculture and food resiliency… The plan is to use the funding to create a capital funding program to buy additional land, build infrastructure and help farmers get equipment, Viva Farms Executive Director Michael Frazier said.”

Viva Farms is a non-profit (501c-3 and charitable organization), Farm Business Incubator and Training Program established in 2009, operating 119 acres, two locations in Skagit County, and one in King County, Washington.

Viva Farms has educated over 1,000 farmers in sustainable organic farming and are currently incubating 29 farm businesses and anticipate having 40 students in our Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture in 2021. 

To learn more about them and their work, click here.


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