Dear Friends, 

Earlier this week, we had the opportunity to celebrate the 54th annual Earth Day!

Earth Day serves as an annual reminder for us to pause and appreciate the natural wonders that surround us. It is our collective responsibility to prioritize the protection of our Mother Earth, nurturing her environment and ecosystems so that the next seven generations can continue to enjoy her splendor.

My leadership in championing salmon recovery and protection, emphasizing the crucial connection between salmon preservation and the overall sustainability of Washington State’s diverse ecosystem, is widely recognized and respected among your legislative peers. My unwavering commitment to safeguarding salmon, acknowledging their vital role in maintaining the health of waterways, habitats, fisheries, and hydro systems, is rooted in your deep reverence for the natural world.

My advocacy for salmon reflects a profound understanding of the intricate interdependence between these iconic fish and the entire biome of Washington State. From the Salish Sea to the mountains, from the Snake River and Columbia River to the lush farmlands and forests, you recognize the integral role that salmon play in enriching the soil, nourishing ecosystems, and sustaining biodiversity. Our holistic approach underscores the importance of preserving the delicate balance between environmental conservation and natural resource management for the well-being of both wildlife and communities across the region.

In the 40th LD we understand that we must protect the Climate Commitment Act, as not only are we committed to reducing carbon emissions now, but we are also investing the revenue back into the environment and our natural resources. The revenue generated supports the investment in natural resources to transportation such as culverts, roads, and bridges.  If we lose the Climate Commitment Action then we lose our funding for salmon recovery.

The Climate Commitment Act aims to cut Washington State’s greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by 2050 through a cap-and-invest program. and has been in effect since January 1st, 2023. The Act is expected to generate substantial revenue for climate and clean energy initiatives and emphasizes an equitable transition to a carbon-free future while prioritizing health and economic benefits for communities impacted by air pollution.

Let me be clear, I am holding myself accountable, and I hope you all will join me in this urgent need for change and accountability in our treatment of the environment and natural resources. This is a powerful moment for collective responsibility, and we must make a commitment to safeguarding the planet for those who will inherit it from us. 

Please, pause and acknowledge the harm caused by past decisions and practices, and recognizing the importance of making sustainable choices for the long-term well-being of the Earth and all its inhabitants. I have the determination to not be part of the cycle of exploitation and degradation, but instead to be a steward of the land and resources for future generations, making a profound commitment to environmental conservation and protection.

I urge you to join me in advocating for sustainable practices, prioritizing the health of our ecosystems and promoting a mindset of responsible stewardship. I value each and every one of you and my words today are a reminder of the profound impact each individual can have in shaping a more environmentally conscious and sustainable world.
Together, we can make a lasting impact and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.

Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday. 

Rep. Debra Lekanoff

Expanding Access to Mental and Behavioral Health Resources

I am honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Kalispel Tribe in addressing the critical issues of fentanyl, addiction, and mental and behavioral health challenges across our state.

Together, we are exploring the possibility of establishing a prevention, recovery, and aftercare facility in Spokane, which would serve as a hub for eastern Washington and operate as part of the broader collaboration between tribal, state, and local governments.

The Camas Health mobile wellness clinic

It is imperative that we create access to these vital resources within our communities, as it is not realistic to expect our citizens in eastern Washington to travel three or more hours to receive the services they need to overcome their struggles and become survivors. This facility will be a crucial step in ensuring that help is available where it is needed most.

I will be working closely with the Colville Tribe, the Yakama Nation, and local governments to bring together our efforts in addressing this major issue. Our goal is to provide comprehensive wellness and recovery inpatient facilities with beds and outpatient services for all those in need.

My commitment to this cause does not stop there. I am also continuing to invest and partner with the Healing Lodge of Seven Nations, the only wellness and recovery facility for addiction and mental health services for youth between the ages of 13 and 17 in eastern Washington.

Camas Health, owned and operated by the Kalispel Tribe

Please stay tuned for more information on this important work. Additionally, I look forward to sharing details about my collaboration with Seattle Supersonics coaches and players who want to return and provide healing tools to help save lives in a state that loved them and their families.

We have much work to do across local, state, tribal, and federal governments, and it is crucial that we remember that we are all Washingtonians, and this crisis impacts all of our communities. Together, we can make a difference and provide the support and resources our communities need to overcome these challenges.

ATNI Climate Resilience Newsletter 

The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) do incredible work for their community, and for the planet. ATNI is a nonprofit organization representing 57 Northwest tribal governments from Oregon, Idaho, Washington, southeast Alaska, Northern California and Western Montana.

I look forward to every one of their climate resilience newsletters, and I wanted to take a moment on this Fantastic Friday to share some of their highlights.

There is always so much more in their newsletter, and time and time again it has provided information that has informed my work fighting to protect our environment. Thank you to everyone at ATNI for all the incredible work you do!

If you are interested in learning more, head over to their website here.

State Policy Leadership to Conserve Nature Report

Friends, earlier this month the Center for American Progress and National Caucus of Environmental Legislators released an insightful report titled State Policy Leadership To Conserve Nature.

This report highlights the crucial role that state and local governments play in addressing the pressing issues of climate change and biodiversity loss.

The report reviews various innovative land and water conservation policy models that serve as solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises we are facing. It examines the major state-level policy tools being utilized to conserve lands for biodiversity, outdoor recreation access, and other benefits of nature, with a focus on models that could be replicated in other states.

One of the key takeaways from the report is that the diversity of solutions and experiences across different states presents an opportunity for effective knowledge-sharing and building upon successful strategies.

Tribal, state, and local governments play a pivotal role in driving conservation efforts tailored to their specific needs and geographies. At the same time, the report emphasizes the necessity of collaboration between state and federal entities to tackle the intertwined crises of climate change and biodiversity loss effectively.

I encourage you all to read this insightful report and stay informed about the various policy initiatives and conservation efforts happening at the state and local levels. Together, we can make a meaningful difference in protecting our natural resources and ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come.

Celebrating a Bellingham Brewery!

Next, some exciting news coming from a brewery right here in Bellingham.

Aslan Brewing Company, has teamed up with Patagonia Provisions to create the world’s first Regenerative Organic Certified Beer!

According to the Regenerative Organic Alliance, “regenerative organic agriculture is a collection of practices that focus on regenerating soil health and the full farm ecosystem. In practice, regenerative organic agriculture can look like cover cropping, crop rotation, low- to no-till, compost, and zero use of persistent chemical pesticides and fertilizers.”

The Bellingham Herald writes that:

“To be Regenerative Organic Certified, the new IPA was held to “the highest standard for organic agriculture in the world” for soil health, social fairness and animal welfare, according to the news release.

The Patagonia Provisions x Aslan Brewing Co. World’s First Regenerative Organic Certified IPA is now available on tap at Aslan’s Bellingham and Seattle locations, though there is a limited supply at each brewery.”

I am so proud of our very own Aslan Brewing Company! Here in the 40th, we understand the importance of preserving and protecting the land that feeds us.

Having the world’s first Regenerative Organic Certified beer is a tremendous achievement. Well done!

Supporting Congressman Rick Larsen! 

Next, I am thrilled to let you know about Congressman Rick Larsen’s recent visit to the 40th LD this week!

Yesterday, April 25th, Congressman Larsen was in Bellingham for a campaign fundraiser – it was such a pleasure to see so many of your smiling faces there supporting a great public servant. Thank you to everyone who came out and joined us!

I share a deep respect for Congressman Larson based on his long-standing dedication and holistic approach to leadership. 

It’s impressive to see such consistent advocacy for transportation, infrastructure, workforce development, and unions, all while ensuring community safety and rights protection. His personal engagement with constituents, by visiting them directly and involving himself in community issues, exemplifies a leadership style that not only listens but actively participates in the betterment of the community. 

I am pleased to endorse his campaign – and honored to have his endorsement as I run for re-election!

Leaders like him, who commit to such an approach, play a crucial role in building trust and facilitating meaningful progress, shaping a better future for all members of the community.

Bill to Force TikTok Sale Signed into Law 

Finally, to round out this Fantastic Friday, I want to give you an update on recent legislation that will change the way the social media app TikTok operates in the United States.

Earlier this week, the Senate officially passed legislation that would force a sale of TikTok by its Chinese owner ByteDance, and President Biden signed it into law one day later. While this may seem simple, the process of enacting this new legislation could prove complicated.

According to the New York Times:

“Congress passed the measure citing national security concerns because of TikTok’s Chinese ties. Both lawmakers and security experts have said there are risks that the Chinese government could lean on ByteDance for access to sensitive data belonging to its 170 million U.S. users or to spread propaganda.

The law would allow TikTok to continue to operate in the United States if ByteDance sold it within 270 days, or about nine months, a time frame that the president could extend to a year.”

This is a complex issue that has many moving parts and interested parties. Not only are there national security implications, but there are many Americans who rely on TikTok for their income, and disruptions to TikTok could have negative ramifications on their livelihoods.

This will be a story that progresses over the next nine months, and I will keep you posted on any major updates.