Dear Friends, 

More than four in five Native women will experience violence in their lifetimes and are murdered at more than ten times the national average, and it’s plain to see that this is critical issue that needs our focus and resources right now.

This Sunday, May 5th, marks Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Awareness Day, a solemn moment to remember our brothers and sisters who have been lost, and those who remain missing to this day.

While this epidemic continues to rage across the country, I am uplifted by the continued work and ongoing progress we are making both in Washington and throughout the fifty states. I want to take a moment to talk about a few pieces of important work being done to protect our Indigenous brothers and sisters.

Right here in Washington, I’m proud to have joined with Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Washington State tribal leaders in creating an alert system, known as MIPA (Missing Indigenous Persons Alert), to help identify and locate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People. 

The Washington State Patrol launched the MIPA Alert System on June 30, 2022, and in collaboration with tribal law enforcement, municipal and federal law enforcement, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), and other state agencies, as well as cable systems and state broadcasters, WSP’s Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit (MUPU) added the specific designation of Missing Indigenous Persons to the Endangered Missing Alerts Systems already in place.  Those include:  AMBER Alerts highlighting missing children, SILVER Alerts highlighting missing seniors, and ENDANGERED MISSING PERSON Alerts highlighting missing adults.

We’ve seen this system recreated in a few places across the country, and it is a vital tool in moving swiftly to protect missing Indigenous peoples.

In California, just last month legislators unanimously approved a bill to create a pilot program that will allow tribal police officers to become peace officers under certain conditions.

 The bill was introduced by Assemblymember James Ramos, and according to Native News Online:

“Ramos’ bill attempts to fix a decades-old problem created by Public Law 280. In 1953, Congress enacted the law, which transferred public safety responsibility on tribal lands from the federal government to six states—including California—without reimbursing costs. In each of those states, state authority was substituted for federal authority on designated Indian reservations, with few exceptions. On reservations that aren’t subject to the law, crimes committed by non-Natives against tribal members are considered federal offenses and tribal police—with training and funding by the US Department of the Interior— are able to carry out arrests and investigations.”

Finally, the Democratic National Convention announced earlier this week that they will be running an ad campaign around Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Awareness Day in several states.

The goal of the ads is both to raise awareness about and honor those who have gone missing or have been murdered and reaffirm Democrats’ commitment to addressing this nationwide epidemic impacting our Native communities.

While there is much work to be done on this front, I am uplifted by the growing commitment to addressing this ongoing tragedy. As we approach Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Awareness day, I would encourage you to take a moment and consider what you can do to help protect our Native brothers and sisters.

It is our duty to support, protect, and uplift every community in our state. We can and we must do better to advocate for the safety of Indigenous people in Washington State. This is about valuing the lives of Indigenous women. It’s about making sure their lives matter. It’s about making sure MY life matters.

Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday. 

Rep. Debra Lekanoff

New Access to Electric Vehicles in Washington 

Next, an exciting now program that will help low-income Washingtonians afford electric vehicles!

Governor Inslee recently announced a new rebate program that will help reduce the monthly cost of leasing an electric vehicle to as low as $56 for some Washingtonians. An incredible step forward in making eco-friendly transportation accessible to more of our neighbors.

According to Governor Inslee’s press release:

“Gov. Jay Inslee and state Department of Commerce Director Mike Fong announced the nation-leading program Tuesday that assists leases and purchases for thousands of low-income drivers to spur EV adoption. Washingtonians earning up to 300% of the federal poverty level ($45,180 for a single resident or $93,600 for a family of four) are eligible for huge discounts towards the purchase or lease of an EV.

The program could bring down the cost of six popular EV models to less than $150 per month for qualified buyers. The Toyota bZ4X has the lowest estimated monthly payment of just $56 per month based on currently-advertised deals. The Hyundai Kona ($78), Nissan Leaf ($87) and Hyundai Ioniq 6 ($93) are other popular models with estimated monthly costs beneath $100. That’s less than the average monthly phone bill.”

This is the type of strong action we need to take across the country. It is so important that not only do we each do our part to reduce our impact on the environment, but that our elected officials take steps to make that process as easy as possible.

I will always work to ensure our environment is protected and healthy for seven generations to come, and I am thrilled to see this new program from Governor Inslee and the Department of Commerce.

Fighting to Ensure All Employees Have a Safe Workplace 

As your elected official in the 40th Delegation, I extend my heartfelt support to all our local employees who are fighting to have a safe workplace. I recognize the importance of all voices which have often gone unheard, and I commend those brave individuals who have stepped forward to advocate for a healthier work environment.
I understand the critical need to address harassment and inequality in the workplace. These issues require systemic change to ensure safety and respect for all employees. I acknowledge with great respect the diligence of those employers who are tackling these crucial matters. In 2024 it is shocking that we are still addressing common sense humanity that every citizen deserves in their place of work, their communities, and their homes.

As your representative, I stand committed to reinforcing state laws that safeguard your rights and ensure a safe workplace for everyone. I am particularly attentive to those among you who have been victims of inadequate conditions. I hear you, stand with you, and advocate for you. Your courage in voicing your experiences is pivotal in driving us towards enacting policies that prevent future grievances while respecting local decision-making principles.

Going forward, I will continue to support legislative actions that protect and benefit all employees in our community. I am dedicated to ensuring our workplaces are safe, nurturing environments where everyone is valued and respected.

For those who have been victims of workplace harassment, please know that there are resources available. If you or someone you know needs information on the options they have, click here.

Thank you for your dedication and service. Together, we will maintain and enhance the standards of our professional spaces, ensuring they are secure and prosperous for all.

Appreciating a Dedicated Civil Servant 

Recently, I had the honor of attending a gathering in the homeland of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, where the Washington State Democratic caucus, along with over a dozen tribal chairs and council members from federally recognized tribes, celebrated Congressman Derek Kilmer’s twenty years of public service.

Congressman Kilmer announced he will not be seeking re-election.

“As nourishing as this job has been, it has come with profound costs to my family,” he wrote in a statement. “Every theatrical performance and musical recital I missed. Every family dinner that I wasn’t there for. The distance I felt from my family for months after the events of January 6th. I am conscious that I didn’t always deliver in the way I wanted; and hope they will forgive me for that.”

The event highlighted Representative Kilmer’s remarkable journey, from the Washington State House of Representatives to the State Senate, and finally to his role as a prominent member of the Democratic Congressional delegation.

Kilmer is renowned for his bipartisan efforts, including founding a caucus dedicated to cross-party collaboration and his influential tenure as chair of the Appropriations Committee, where he consistently engaged with constituents under his guiding principle, “How can I help you?”

Kilmer’s policies and fiscal decisions have significantly impacted countless lives in Washington and across the nation. The caucus also supported an unprecedented number of Native candidates running for state offices, including Representative Chris Stearns, State Senator Claudia Kauffman, Nate Tyler of the Makah Tribe for the 24th LD, Bob Iyall of the Nisqually Tribe for the Senate in the 22nd LD, and Patrick Depoe, the first Native American in the race for Washington State DNR Commissioner of Public Lands.

As expressed by Chairman Willie Frank, this surge in Native candidates marks a pivotal moment for enhanced representation and collaboration between state and tribal governments. The presence of Native Americans at the legislative table promises to foster mutual understanding and joint efforts to address statewide issues, emphasizing that their voices are crucial in shaping policies for all residents of Washington State.

On behalf of our community, I extend my sincere gratitude to Representative Kilmer for his decades of work in service to Washington State. His dedication and commitment to helping Washingtonians have been truly remarkable, and we eagerly anticipate his future contributions.

Supreme Court Hears Another Abortion Case 

Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in yet another case stemming around abortion and the right to choose.

While we have seen a number of cases come before the Supreme Court regarding the new cloudy relationship between state and federal laws around abortion in the post-Roe era, this case may be the most harrowing.

According to CNN:

“The dispute, stemming from the Justice Department’s marquee response to the high court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade in 2022, turns on whether federal mandates for hospital emergency room care override abortion bans that do not exempt situations where a woman’s health is in danger but her life is not yet threatened…

A ruling is likely to land sometime in late June, potentially around the same time that the court will decide another key abortion matter pending on its docket: Whether the US Food and Drug Administration overstepped its authority by expanding access to the abortion pill mifepristone.”

At its core, this case is about whether or not elected officials in state legislatures can restrict how a doctor treats pregnant patients, specifically around emergency care during the pregnancy.

Make no mistake, this is yet another attempt by conservative lawmakers to further restrict our autonomy over our bodies. This is a deeply personal issue to me, and I will always fight to ensure that every person who bears a child maintains authority over what happens to their body.


Finally, this week I am thrilled to share that the 40th District Democrats recently voted unanimously to endorse Senator Liz Lovelett, Representative Alex Ramel, and me as we all run for re-election in November!

It is an honor to represent the 40th district, and I take my responsibility as your voice in Olympia very seriously. Having the support of the 40th Democrats warms my heart and makes me excited to get out on the campaign trail.

Thank you, to the 40th District Democrats, for your continued support! I look forward to working side by side with you this summer and fall as we work to elect the best possible candidates in our great district.