Week 6 | Building a Resilient Climate Together

Dear friends and neighbors,  

Happy Fantastic Friday! 

We’re over 25% of the way through the legislative session. Today is policy committee cutoff, which is the first big deadline of this legislative session. Today, all bills that will be further considered will have already passed out of their policy committee and will advance to a fiscal committee (if applicable), and/or the House Floor. Thank you so much to all who have shared advocacy, feedback, and stories with me so far—it has been so wonderful connecting with so many of you. One of the most important parts of my job is hearing from you about what’s important to you, and sharing with you what we’re working on.  

I have always tried to learn from history and those around me about creating a sustainable future for generations. My name comes from the name for the cool tributaries where baby frogs live. It goes back 10,000 years and has passed down through generations, through my grandmother’s grandmother. My name is interconnected with the resources and the environment. So when the environment dies, my name will no longer exist. The spirit of who I am will no longer exist. Environmental work is integral to my identity. Here are some of the things we’ve been working on to protect our planet for generations to come:  

Implementation of the Climate Commitment Act  

In 2021, the Washington State Legislature passed the Climate Commitment Act, a sweeping bill that directs the Department of Ecology to develop and implement a statewide cap-and-invest program to cut carbon pollution. This act is a commitment to reducing Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by the year 2050.  

2023 marks a significant shift in climate policy, from a focus on passing major climate policies to now implementing these transformative laws. Washington has among the strongest policy frameworks to transition away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy. The Climate Commitment Act went into place January 1st, 2023 and its cap-and-invest program is expected to bring in billions of dollars for climate and clean energy. As the Legislature invests in climate action using new funds coming from the CCA, it is critical to spend dollars wisely and ensure an equitable transition to a carbon-free future.  

Beyond incentivizing business to reduce emissions, the CCA also works to make sure that cutting carbon pollution produces health and economic benefits for the communities that bear the brunt of air pollution today. That approach puts environmental justice at the heart of the law, and seeks to alleviate the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and other types of air pollution in overburdened communities 

Some of the revenue generated by the emissions allowance auctions (anticipated to be about $500 million per year) will be earmarked specifically for projects and programs designed to address air quality issues in these communities and to advance health and environmental equity statewide. In addition, the CCA requires that at least 35% (with a goal of 40%) of total auction proceeds be dedicated to projects that benefit vulnerable populations within overburdened communities in Washington. In addition, at least 10% of auction funds must be allocated to Tribal projects. 

Solar panels for a bright future

solar panels

Community solar allows everyone to benefit from solar energy, even if they can’t put panels on a rooftop. Community solar has unique economic and environmental benefits, without the requirement of owning a home, dealing with installation, or upfront costs. This year, I’m proud to support HB 1509, a bill that would expand equitable access to the benefits of clean, reliable, affordable, and locally sited solar power to all Washingtonians. The Fair Access to Community Solar Act requires that electric utilities compensate subscribers of community solar projects for electricity generated by the project with a retail-rate bill credit that must be rolled forward until the credit is used. It also increases the allowable size of projects, directs the Utilities and Transportation Commission to adopt rules to implement a new community solar program, allows electric utilities to recover development and implementation costs of the community solar program in electric utility rates, and adds new requirements and removes certain limitations as to where community solar projects may be located. Community solar leads to energy independence, produces less pollution, supports local economies, and is the first, best step to slowing climate change: fossil-fueled CO2 emissions are causing our planet to warm at an accelerating rate, and the time to act is now. 

Protecting our Salmon – Written, Amended, and Approved by Citizens


Salmon restoration is too important for our state to delay action. Every river in Washington State is supported by hatcheries, and the wild salmon population has depleted. Salmon are a keystone species that signal the health of human populations and habitats. They hatch in freshwater rivers, migrate to the oceans as young adults, and return to rivers to spawn; in this way, they link terrestrial and marine systems. In Washington state, glaciers provide the cool water that salmon need to survive. With increases in global temperatures, glacial meltwater hasn’t been enough to keep rivers cool enough to support salmon populations. Lummi Tribal Leader Randy Kinley taught me that if you have a healthy salmon, then you have a healthy economy, healthy people, and a healthy social structure because people are enjoying the outdoors and working hard. People are healthy because they’re drinking clean water and eating good food. All of those things are going to be gone once that salmon is gone. Once that salmon’s gone, all of the ceremonies, traditional songs, values, cultural laws, way of life, and names will all be gone. We become, as Native people, a shell of what we are. 

This year, I’m proud to co-sponsor the first bipartisan bill HB 1720 that brings together agriculture community and tribal communities to protect and restore riparian areas by establishing a voluntary, regionally focused riparian grant program designed to improve the ecological functions of critical riparian management zones. I am joined by Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee Chair Mike Chapman from the 24th district, Republican Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee Ranking member Tom Dent of the 13th District, and Republican Minority Ranking Member Joel Kretz of the of the 7th district to carry the voices of thousands of fishermen and farmers will have a future.  

HB 1720 provides the Washington State Conservation Commission (SCC) the opportunity to develop and implement the riparian grant program to fund protection and restoration of the critical riparian management zones. The bill also provides funding for the Recreational Conservation Office to implement salmon recovery riparian buffer projects. The bill further develops a commission for developing the criteria for the grant program, establishes a salmon riparian habitat policy task force in the governor’s salmon recovery office to monitor and review the implementation and successes of the grant program. The task force members are appointed by the executive director of the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office and includes: 

Lead by  

  • four representatives from federally recognized tribes in Washington, two from east of the crest of the Cascade mountains and two from west of the Cascade mountains; 
  • four representatives from agricultural and livestock producers; 

Other Participants include 

  • one representative from a regional salmon recovery organization; 
  • one representative from a forestry and agriculture organization, as recommended by a recognized statewide agriculture or forestry organization; and 
  • one representative from a nonprofit environmental organization that owns or manages undeveloped land in Washington, as recommended by a recognized statewide environmental organization. 

The Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources and the State Conservation Commission shall have a representative serve in a technical advisory role to the task force. 

Washington state continues to face one of the most significant crises of our lifetimes in the degradation of Pacific Northwest salmon. The salmon, whose numbers have been plummeting for decades, are now in some places facing extinction. Once the salmon are gone, the very foundation of Pacific Northwest Native American culture, laws and values will be irreparably damaged.  

To ensure we have watershed salmon recovery; our four bipartisan representatives also support an additional 100 million for the WA State Conservation Commission to focus on salmon recovery thru volunteer riparian buffers and another 100 million for the Recreational Conservation Office, Salmon Recovery Foundation Program for all salmon recovery projects. For the first time in history agriculture and salmon industries come together for holistic recovery on watersheds from riparian buffers, salmon recovery projects, lead entities recovery projects and culvert repairs.  

Environmental policy needs to represent all Washingtonians and all people. In the past, we have not been good stewards of the land. It will take investment and care to repair what we’ve destroyed. But we must invest in our values today so that our grandchildren can have a future.    

Thank you for coming by my office!

  • It was a delight to catch up with an old friend, Karen Stratton. On my left, looking at the photo is Jamie SiJohn, Public Relations Director for the Spokane Tribe, and on my right, looking at the photo is Spokane City Councilmember Karen Stratton, daughter of former Sen. Lois Stratton, the first female enrolled tribal member to serve in the Washington State Legislature:


  • Laurie, the Director of the San Juan Library, was joined by Boyd and Barbara to discuss their library’s new building project and the Department of Corrections recommendations for the Library Capital Improvements budget:


  • I heard from community health center professionals from UCNW and CHC Snohomish about their staffing struggles and the difficulty recruiting the staff they need:


  • I met with officials from the University of Washington as well as Patsy Whitefoot of the Yakama Nation to hear about celebrated events and future projects at the wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ  Intellectual House on campus.


  • I met with student advocates Adán Mendoza Sandoval and Naira Gonzales Aranda after the public hearing on her bill HB 1693:


  • It was a blast to meet and hear from Friday Harbor students about work they’re doing in the classroom and around their community:  


  • I also had the pleasure of meeting with Madelyn Carlson, a Board Member of the Non-Profit Insurance Program (NPIP) and CEO of the non-profit People for People.  NPIP has close to 900 non-profit members across the state and helps them meet their insurance needs along with an array of services to reduce risk.  A great resource for any non-profit! 

 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 be sending out a Fantastic Friday letter each week throughout the 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