Week 9 | The 2022 Session Comes to an End

We just wrapped up the 2022 Legislative Session! After a jam-packed 60-days, we adjourned late last night after passing the finalized transportation and operating budgets. In future newsletters, I’ll go into depth on the investments made in the final budgets and what they’ll mean for our district. In this newsletter, I’ll highlight some of the bills we passed to mitigate the damaging effects of climate change, address homelessness and housing affordability, and support Washington’s working families!

Preserving Our Environment for Future Generations 

The 2021 legislative session was a landmark year in the fight against climate change with the passage of the Climate Commitment Act and low-carbon fuel standards. During this year’s short session, we continued that great work by passing legislation targeting greenhouse gas pollution from landfills and our state’s building sector. With a climate crisis on our doorstep, we’re committed to doing all we can to protect the lives and livelihoods of all Washington families for generations to come. 

Protecting the Environment

Improving appliance efficiency standards: HB 1619 (Fitzgibbon) 

Washington has taken great strides toward a greener, cleaner, more sustainable energy grid in recent years, but we can do more to ensure the energy we produce is being used as efficiently as possible. House Bill 1619 expands energy efficiency standards to a greater range of household appliances to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, water use, and costs for Washington families. Not only does this bill minimize our negative impact on the environment, it will lead to long-term savings for residents throughout the state. 

Reducing methane emissions from landfills: HB 1663 (Duerr) 

Methane can be nearly a hundred times worse than carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping heat and changing our climate — and much of it comes from our state’s landfills. House Bill 1663 requires large municipal landfills to install and operate gas collection and control systems to capture this methane and prevent it from getting into the atmosphere. Our kids deserve a livable future, and we must do what we can to reign in a planet that just keeps getting hotter and hotter. 

Reducing methane emissions from organic waste: HB 1799 (Fitzgibbon) 

For too long, surplus food and organic waste has been left to rot in our landfills, releasing methane into our atmosphere and accelerating our climate crisis. House Bill 1799 helps redirect our surplus food to the families who desperately need it, while repurposing organic waste for composting at local farms. We have the opportunity today to chart a new course for our state that helps eliminate hunger and protects communities from the effects of climate change — this is a common-sense win-win. 

Promoting Housing security and reducing homelessness 

Washington had deep housing and homelessness crises before the pandemic, and the economic downturn severely increased the need in every community. Investments in 2021 helped stave off an eviction tsunami and kept people housed to reduce the spread of Covid-19. Now that emergency supports are winding down, House Democrats are continuing to make targeted investments that promote housing security.   

This biennium, we passed policies and made historic investments to protect renters, make it easier to build affordable housing so it can be delivered quickly, and reduce homelessness so all Washingtonians can find accessible, quality and climate-friendly housing. These efforts include: 

  • Relocation assistance for tenants of closed or converted manufactured/mobile home parks (HB 1083) 
  • Requiring a legitimate business reason to end a residential tenancy (HB 1236) 
  • Eviction Prevention Rental Assistance Program—Washington’s first permanent revenue source for evection prevention (HB 1277) 
  • The nation’s first guaranteed right to counsel for certain tenants in eviction court (SB 5106) 
  • Lowering costs to establish or preserve affordable housing by exempting sale of real property for affordable housing from the real estate excise tax (HB 1643) 
  • Creating the Apple Health and Homes Program to get people into permanent housing with wraparound support services by recognizing chronic homelessness as a medical condition (HB 1866) 

home neighborhood

We Remain Committed to Working Families  

This session we passed legislation that puts working families first and encourages diversity, fairness, equity, and justice with labor policies that address intimidation and retaliation, and implement reforms to Employment Security, Workers’ Compensation, and Paid Family & Medical Leave. Some of our victories include: 

Transportation Network CompaniesHB 2076  

A decade in the making, this measure puts an end to unsustainable pay cuts and moves rideshare drivers forward where their pay will rise with the cost of living. This bill creates the highest statewide minimum wage for rideshare drivers in the country, as well as workers’ compensation benefits, paid sick days, and protections against unfair driver termination.   

Restroom access for truckers: HB 1706  

This legislation requires port terminal operators to provide sufficient restrooms for drayage drivers and includes an enforcement mechanism. The men and women who keep our economy moving and deliver the goods we all depend on deserve more access to restrooms and running water.    

Washington Silenced No More Act: HB 1795  

This measure empowers workers and protects them from abusive non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements by prohibiting their use to block employees from speaking out about harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and wage-theft in the workplace.   

Salary transparencySB 5761  

Not disclosing salary information perpetuates disparities and impacts women and people of color, which effectively maintains existing pay gaps. This bill requires employers to provide the wage scale or salary range in job listings. This is the next logical step in our work as leaders in pay equity. Publicly posting salary ranges up front provides ALL applicants the same information so they can negotiate from a level playing field and makes it harder for employers to low-ball candidates with offers below the potential salary range.   

Washington Workers

Eliminating sub-prevailing wage certificates for people with disabilitiesSB 5763  

Workers with disabilities should be valued and treated equitably. To this end, last year we passed legislation eliminating sub-minimum wage certificates. We followed up this session by repealing the statute allowing the Department of Labor and Industries to issue special certificates for the employment of individuals with disabilities at wages lower than the applicable prevailing wage rate.   

Diaper Need Act: HB 1947 SB 5838   

Families across Washington are struggling to afford diapers. With this bill, parents or other caregivers who receive TANF and have children under three years old will receive a monthly subsidy to help pay for diapers.    

Unemployment insurance, family leave, and medical leave premiums: SB 5873  

Last year, we passed legislation to reduce the impact of unemployment insurance premium increases from the pandemic on employers.  Small businesses, including restaurants, are still struggling, so we are reducing the cap back to 0.5% for 2022 – the same as what we had last year – and lowering the cap for 2023.  

Preparing for the Semiquincentennial

This session, Sen. Sam Hunt introduced legislation to establish the Semiquincentennial Committee, which will coordinate and provide guidance for Washington state’s official observance of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States.

I was proud to have spoken in support of the bill on the floor of the People’s House, and am happy to report it passed the Legislature and is now awaiting the governor’s signature!

We have looked to the past to build our future. Today it is an honor for me to sit on the floor of the People’s House, Mr. Speaker, and talk about how far we have come, how our history has brought ourselves together. We as Native Americans are not going anywhere, never leaving the homelands where our roots, our names, our bloodlines are intertwined within the laws that are built today.

Watch my remarks on the floor.

A Quick Note on Culverts!

Although I’ll be going in to depth on all three state budgets in next week’s Fantastic Friday, I wanted to share one investment that has particular significance to our district and to my priorities as a lawmaker. I’m excited to share that I successfully sponsored a capital budget proviso to provide Skagit County with $1 million to bring 11 of the highest priority culverts to full design! This funding will ensure our communities can work quickly to remove fish passage barriers in the Skagit, helping restore our salmon.

“We owe the Representative a huge thanks for this funding and for believing in these projects and our concept. We can all sincerely agree that restoration and protection of salmon, steelhead and bull trout populations is critical. Fish barrier removal is key to doing so, and this funding will help us remove more culverts more quickly. It’s a good day for all in Skagit.” – Skagit County Commissioner Ron Wesen

“This funding, leveraged with a local match, will allow us to move forward quickly on these projects. Representative Lekanoff’s work securing this funding supports studies and prioritization done by our staff, Skagit River System Cooperative, Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group and others. Fish restoration in the Skagit is truly a collaborative effort, and we’re thankful to have the Representative on our team.”  – Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki

“We are grateful that Representative Lekanoff championed this initiative. We also appreciate the vision and leadership of retired Public Works Director Dan Berentson, Public Works Director Grace Kane, and the Skagit County Natural Resources Division in assembling these projects.” – Skagit County Commissioner Peter Browning 

More information about Skagit’s Natural Resource management and fish restoration can be found here or by calling Skagit County Public Works at 360-416-1400.

Thank you all for taking to the time to read this week’s Fantastic Friday, and for taking an interest in our progress at the House of Representatives. I will continue sending out Fantastic Fridays into the interim, so watch for more updates on all we accomplished in the 2022 Legislative Session!

Please feel free to reach out to me using the information below, with any questions, inquiries, or concerns you may have.

I am here for you!

All best wishes,

Lekanoff sig

Rep. Debra Lekanoff