For the last decade, Washington State has grown and thrived under the leadership of Governor Jay Inslee. He has done a tremendous job of helping us to move forward, emphasizing protecting the environment, supporting education, making affordable housing available to all Washingtonians, and more.
Last week, Governor Inslee officially announced that he will not seek a fourth term, clearing the way for a new wave of leadership in our great state.
Governor Inslee had this to say in a statement announcing his decision:
“Our last decade of Washington’s storied history is one of growth and innovation. I am proud to have played a role in our state’s leadership on so many fronts. We’ve passed the nation’s best climate policies, the most successful family leave benefits, the best college scholarship programs, a more fair legal justice system, and the most protective actions against gun violence. We’ve shown that diversity is a strength worth fighting for. This has been ten years of dynamic success.
As governor, I have seen my role as inspiring our state ever forward and ever higher. I’m gratified to be able to say that this approach has worked to improve Washingtonians lives in many ways and many places.”
There will be a lot of time to talk about who will follow Governor Inslee in Olympia, and I have a few words later in this newsletter about who I’m excited to support, but I want us all to take a moment to appreciate Governor Inslee.
Not only have we seen incredible growth and accomplished great things together, but Governor Inslee also oversaw our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and has lead us through our recovery.
Thank you, Governor Inslee!
Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday.
"Stay Safe, Stay Healthy"
Rep. Debra Lekanoff
Updates from the 2023 Legislative Session
Next, as the official 2023 Legislative Session is behind us, I want to provide a few highlights to you all on some legislation that I spearheaded this year – starting with Honoring Billy Frank Jr.!
Honoring Billy Frank Jr.
Those of you who have subscribed to my newsletter for the last few years may remember discussions we’ve had about replacing the statue that Washington has in the Capitol building in Washington D.C.
Now, I’m excited to tell you that my bill has passed off the Senate floor unanimously!
I have worked closely with a number of my colleagues from the legislature and tribes on legislation that would replace Washington State’s statue of Marcus Whitman at the National Statuary Hall in the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. with a statue of Billy Frank Jr.
Billy Frank Jr. embodied the spirit of Washington State in so many ways, working his entire life for the causes of equality, justice, and protecting the environment. Through his fight to protect tribal treaty rights, he also worked to protect the natural resources that so many cultures are based upon.
We all owe Billy Frank Jr. our deep thanks for his work in protecting our salmon and helping their recovery efforts across the state. Billy understood that salmon don’t see political parties, that their health and success are incredibly important to all of Washington State.
Supporting Tribal Police
HB 1290, which requires the Criminal Justice Training Commission to provide training to tribal police officers and employees who are not peace officers, corrections officers, or officers of a general authority Washington law enforcement agency, was signed into law by Governor Inslee last month!
This will do a tremendous job of supporting Washington’s tribal nations, providing them with additional support and training as they work to keep their lands a people safe.
The law provides trainings for tribal police officers if:
- the tribe is federally recognized.
- tribal agencies who have entered into tribal officer certification written agreements with the CJTC reimburse the CJTC for 25 percent of the cost of training.
Investigating MMIWP Cold Cases
Finally, I want to talk about HB 1177, which was also signed into law by Governor Inslee. This new law creates a cold case unit specifically to investigate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People.
More than four in five Native women will experience violence in their lifetimes and are murdered at more than ten times the national average. It’s plain to see that this is an issue that we need to address, and I’m proud to have led the way.
This coupled with the alert system to help identify and locate Missing and Murdered Indigenous People that went into action last year will help bring our people home, and closure to the families that have lost a loved one.
When issues are as plain to see as this one, it’s clear that we must take action. Addressing the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People in this country must continue to be a priority, we must do everything we can to protect Native women.
My Friend Bob Ferguson
Next – Attorney General Bob Ferguson is running for Governor!
Last week, following the announcement that Governor Inslee will not seek another term in office, my friend Bob Ferguson, our Attorney General, announced his exploratory Gubernatorial campaign!
It has been a pleasure to work with Bob as Attorney General and I am so grateful for his ongoing support as I have served in the People’s House.
Now, I am thrilled to return that support as he begins this journey into the next phase of his service to Washington and Washingtonians! I hope you’ll consider joining him as well.
Here is Bob’s announcement statement from last week:
“I’ve never been afraid to take on big fights. From the Trump Admin and the gun lobby to anti-abortion extremists and corporate interests, I’ve taken on powerful adversaries, and won.
That's just the start. Today, I'm proud to announce my exploratory campaign for Governor of WA.
Since I first ran for office, I’ve run grassroots, people-powered campaigns. I refuse to take money from large corporations. This campaign will be no different — join us today. We can’t do it without you.
To learn more about Bob and his work, click here.
Special Legislative Session
While our regular Legislative Session has come to a close, Governor Inslee is calling us back to work starting on May 16 so that we can find a solution to our state’s drug possession law – which currently will expire on July 1.
In 2021, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in Washington v. Blake that the state’s law making drug possession a felony was unconstitutional, and we passed a temporary measure – which will expire on July 1 – making drug possession a misdemeanor.
Addressing this gap in legislation was a major point in the 2023 Legislative Session, and unfortunately, we were not able to come up with and pass a solution. Now, we are set to readjourn with this single goal in front of us.
We must find common ground to move forward with statewide legislation, avoiding a situation where each city has their own policy, confusing law enforcement and Washingtonians.
I am confident that my colleagues and I will be able to move swiftly, finding a policy that will help Washington clearly address the issue, while supporting those who need access to addiction services.
Keep an eye out for additional updates as the Special Legislative Session gets underway next week.