As we get started in this new year, looking back at our great electoral wins this past November, it is time to roll up our sleeves and get to governing. You all have cast your votes and made your voices heard and sent your representatives to Olympia, and to Washington!
We’ve watched America grow into who we are as a people of many different races, cultures, color, religions, and beliefs in our way life. We have come so far, and elected an incredibly diverse legislative body in Washington, D.C. – yet despite Congress starting their session earlier this week, they have not begun to govern.
That is because the narrow Republican majority in the House of Representatives has been unable to elect a Speaker of the House. As I am writing to you now, the House has held eleven votes for speaker with nobody receiving the required 218 votes to lead the lower chamber of Congress.
Representative Kevin McCarthy has received the most votes out of any Republican – around 200 total votes – but has been unable to work with his colleagues to receive the simple majority necessary to become Speaker of the House.
Meanwhile, all Democrats in the House of Representatives have stood united, voting each time for Representative Hakeem Jefferies – giving him 212 votes to be Speaker!
I want to commend my fellow Democrats in the House of Representatives for working together, leading by example for how to best help the American people – not themselves.
Additional votes for Speaker are happening every day, and Congress cannot move forward until someone is chosen to hold the gavel – keep an eye out in the news to see who will win out! I will be sure to provide an additional update next week if votes continue.
Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday.
“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy”
Rep. Debra Lekanoff
New MMIW Alert System in Colorado!
The year ahead has so many great things in store, and on this first Fantastic Friday of the new year I am excited to share some news out of the great state of Colorado!
Starting at the end of last month, a new system went into effect in Colorado granting the Colorado Bureau of Investigation the ability to send out a Missing Indigenous Person Alert when a Native person is missing in the state.
The bill, which was signed into law over the summer, required that the Colorado Department of Public Safety create the Office of Liaison for Missing or Murdered Indigenous Relatives, which hired their first director, Aaron Julian, in November.
Here is a sample of what the Colorado bulletin will look like:
This is incredible progress, following the similar alert system that California implemented a few months ago. I am so proud that the work we are doing here in Washington is rippling out, impacting more and more communities across the country as we work to ensure that our Native brothers and sisters are safe, and those that go missing come home.
This is important work, and I am excited to continue collaborating with lawmakers across the country who understand the need to prioritize this issue. Thank you, Colorado!
One additional update I’d like to provide here is on the success of our current system here in Washington – and to let you know that an at-risk/missing person has been found!
Thank you to all of the dedicated individuals who brought Jai-Lee home, and to everyone who has supported us as we have implemented and refined our alert system! This just highlights how important these programs are, and how necessary it is to expand them across the country.
NCEL Year in Review
Friends, last week we took a look back at some of the top highlights from Fantastic Fridays throughout 2022 – and now I want to take a moment to highlight the work of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislatures (NCEL).
Working with NCEL is something I am incredibly proud of, and it is an honor to sit on their Executive Board as we continue the great work across the country.
Today, I’d like to take a moment and share some of their highlights from 2022 – here is their year in review:
- NCEL organized and circulated five nationwide sign-on letters with 483 legislators from 49 states and territories joined together to call for establishing a National Biodiversity Strategy, centering health and climate in U.S. public housing, providing dedicated funding for states to recover endangered wildlife, improving gas furnace efficiency standards, and ensuring equity in the America the Beautifulconservation initiative.
- The work of the NCEL network received 146 media hits in 2022, which means more attention and more support for state efforts.
- Throughout the year, NCEL hosted 60 in-person and virtual events to inform, inspire, and connect state lawmakers around strong environmental policy solutions.
- NCEL sent delegations of staff and state legislators to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) and the Biodiversity Conference (COP15) to learn and showcase the leadership of U.S. states in addressing the climate and biodiversity crises.
- Strong state environmental policy continued throughout 2022. It was another very active year for bills supporting low-carbon transportation systems, plastic pollution solutions, offshore wind energy, and outdoor engagement.
This is work that will continue in both the short and long term, impacting the entire country – so keep an eye out for additional updates, and click here to learn more about NCEL!
Council of State Governments Committee Co-Chair!
Another national organization that I am excited to tell you about is the Council of State Governments (CSG)!
I have worked with CSG for many years, and I am thrilled to let you know that my role will soon be expanding. Starting this year, I have officially joined the Canada Relations Committee as a Co-Chair, serving through December 31, 2024! As a committee Co-Chair, I will also be a member of the CSG West Executive Committee, serving as the organization’s governing body.
The work of CSG West policy committees reflects the substantive issues facing Western legislatures. CSG West policy committees offer opportunities for legislators to learn from the experiences and expertise of other states as well as hear from nationally and internationally recognized experts in particular subject matters.
Policy committees can recommend resolutions and policy positions for the consideration of the CSG West Executive Committee
The Council of State Governments is a nonpartisan community of the states, committed to connecting, informing, inspiring and empowering public servants in all three branches of state government to put the best ideas and solutions into practice. Learn more about them here.
Congratulations Commissioner Janicki!
Last year saw an incredibly important election, one that we highlighted time and again as a way to ensure that everyone here in the 40th LD understood how much their voices matter. While there won’t be many election results to share for some time, there is one quick one I would like to tell you about:
Congratulations to Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki for being elected as the new County Representative on the Board of Natural Resources for the Washington State Association of Counties!
I have long counted Lisa as a close friend and working with her to help improve our communities has been nothing short of amazing. She was one of the first people to come out and endorse my campaign this year, and I am happy she has this incredible opportunity!
Anacortes City Council Legislative Priorities
Now I’d like to take some time on this Fantastic Friday to update you on legislative priorities for 2023 in a few places across the 40th LD – first, in the City of Anacortes.
Last month, ahead of the new year, the Anacortes City Council voted on an approved their legislative priorities, including the refinement of public safety policies, support for housing policies, and updating infrastructure polices related to bid limits, and encouraging s ate investment in human services, affordable and subsidized housing, and infrastructure including broadband expansion and reinstatement of the Sidney, B.C. ferry.
Here are the full priorities:
Thank you to the Anacortes City Council for all your hard work – I look forward to working alongside you in 2023 to help accomplish these goals!
Skagit County Legislative Priorities
The second set of legislative priorities for 2023 that I’d like to share with you today comes from the Skagit County Board of County Commissioners.
The 2023 legislative priorities for the Skagit County Board of Commissioners fall along three lines:
The Skagit County Crisis Stabilization Center (SCCSC) which provides inpatient mental health services to adults experiencing acute psychiatric symptoms, providing 24-hour support, and preparing individuals to return home, or to other community-based programs as appropriate.
The proposed priorities would add 16 crisis stabilization beds, as well as 32 co-occurring treatment and acute detox beds.
Support Salmon Recovery Efforts Utilizing A Collaborative Approach, through a Voluntary Stewardship Program – supporting voluntary habitat improvement programs, — Including Local Partners — making sure that local partners have a seat at the table as legislation and policies are developed, — and Implementation Funding – ensuring that new responsibilities are fully funded by the state Legislature.
Support Public Safety and Reduce Court Backlog, by adopting and investing in solutions aimed at enhancing community safety, accountability, equity, and reliability of County justice functions.
These are strong steps to help support our communities, and I am excited to work hand in hand with the Skagit County Board of County Commissioners to achieve these great goals!