Week 12 | Expanding Resiliency in WA

Happy Fantastic Friday!

Time flies, and we are already three weeks away from the end of the 2023 legislative session. As we approach the final stretch, I wanted to take a moment to express how grateful I am for the opportunity to connect with my colleagues in-person and have had face-to-face conversations with many of you. 

Thank you for your continued engagement and support. Let’s make these final three weeks count! 

Expanding resiliency in Washington  

I am excited to share with you some of the funding highlights in the Resilient Washington 2023-2025 operating budget. These investments demonstrate our commitment to improving the quality of life for all residents, particularly those who need it most. 

My legislation, as funded in the House budget:  

  • HB 1639, which seeks to memorialize the late Billy Frank Jr. in Statuary Hall: the legislation allocates $489,000 in fiscal year 24 and $654,000 in fiscal year 25 to the State Arts Commission for operating expenses, as well as $78,000 to the state Historical Society for implementation. 
  • HB 1332, requiring tribal education in k-12 public school curricula: $525,000 for operation and implementation 
  • HB 1177, which seeks to establish a cold case unit for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People: the legislation will receive $1,005,000 

Investments in our community:  

  • The Mount Vernon Library Commons project has been awarded $2.1 million from the transportation budget to construct electric vehicle charging stations. With this funding, the library will be able to provide a valuable service to the community by supporting the transition to clean energy while promoting sustainability and reducing emissions. 
  • The Port of Anacortes will receive $1 million in state funding to support the replacement of the T Dock. The engineering study conducted showed that the dock is not capable of supporting its original load capacity, and this project aims to increase structural capacity while ensuring the continued safe use of the dock. This is a significant project for the region as it will continue to support jobs and economic benefit for Anacortes and the surrounding areas. 
  • Early learning and childcare service provider SPARC in Mount Vernon will receive $1,500,000 of state funding to expand the number of children and families they can serve. This funding will help SPARC to open their next school and support the growing demand for specialized classroom and therapy services for young children. By the end of this project, SPARC anticipates supporting an increase of up to 300 children aged 3 – 5. 

Statewide resiliency:  

  • The Tribal Cultural Affairs Program: $2,750,000  to the State Arts Commission to help support and preserve our tribal cultural heritage, which is crucial for maintaining our community’s identity and traditions. 
  • $500,000 to be appropriated for the Attorney General’s Office to establish a truth and reconciliation tribal advisory committee to study the impact of Indian boarding schools in Washington state. Research into these types of schools has led to tragic revelations across the U.S. and Canada and beginning a thorough study in Washington state is an important step toward justice and understanding the history that’s taken place in our state.
  • $464,000 to the Attorney General’s office to support the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People task force.  
  • $404,000 from the Climate Commitment Account was appropriated for the implementation of HB 1216specifically for the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs to facilitate government-to-government collaboration between federally recognized tribes and the state’s Departments of Ecology, Commerce, and Archeology & Historical Preservation. This funding will help promote sustainability and protect our natural resources. 

These budget requests are essential for promoting justice, preserving our cultural heritage, serving those in need, and protecting our natural resources. Thank you to advocates in our community for working in collaboration with the state on these requests.  

Visits to Olympia


The State Legislature is actively working towards establishing bipartisan approaches to address salmon recovery and preserve natural resources across the state. HB 1720 stands as a shining example of how the agriculture and salmon industries can come together to find practical solutions. It was a privilege for me to co-host a legislative event alongside the Governor of Indian Affairs Director, Craig Bill, and the Children of the Setting Sun founder, Darrell Hillaire.

The presence of notable figures such as Nisqually Chairman Willie Frank, Squaxin Island Chairman Kris Peters, Lummi Councilwoman Lisa Wilson, and Chair Frances Charles made this event all the more special. They provided valuable insights that proved to be a teachable moment for our legislators and executive branch staff. We are grateful for their participation and contributions to the conversation.


Thank you, Whatcom County Commissioner Kaylee Galloway, and Executive Satpal Singh Sidhu for the opportunity to collaborate on future projects related to renewable energy, water, infrastructure, and public safety. Our joint efforts in these areas will surely yield fruitful results, and I am excited to work together with you both.

We understand that there is much more work to be done, and I am grateful for the excellent relationships we have established with tribal, local, and state governments. These strong partnerships will undoubtedly help us achieve our goals and create a better future for our community.


We are honored to work alongside Lummi Nation Chairman Anthony Hillaire, Councilman Jim Washington, and Councilwoman Lisa Wilson in addressing the critical issue of salmon recovery. For the Lummi people, salmon is not just a resource but the very heart of their culture, economy, and way of life.

Together, we are committed to tackling the challenges that come with salmon recovery, from improving hatcheries and habitats to preserving our water resources. We recognize the significant threat posed by invasive species like the green crab, which can harm both our environment and resources, and we are working closely with our co-managers to address this crisis.

There is much work to be done, but we are dedicated to collaborating with the Lummi Nation to protect and sustain their precious resources, as well as to preserve their cultural heritage.


We had the privilege of hearing from two distinguished individuals who shared their insights on the drug crisis plaguing our districts. WA State Narcotic Agency’s Ann Anderson and Snohomish Officer Dave Hayes, who also served as a state representative for six years for the 10th district, provided us with some harsh realities that we face daily.

As we continue to navigate the Blake decision and prioritize public safety, it is crucial to maintain a balanced approach that prioritizes the protection of our communities. Unfortunately, the drug crisis is worsening, and we need to take decisive action across the state to combat it.

Consider the following figures in the Skagit alone: in 2021, 18,000 fentanyl pills were confiscated by the police. In 2022, that number had surged to 300,000, and we are projected to reach 400,000 by 2023. These figures are alarming and demand urgent attention.

We must invest in a comprehensive plan to fight this crisis. It is essential to work together with stakeholders and community leaders to identify effective solutions and put them into action. By doing so, we can create a safer and healthier environment for all.


Swinomish Tribe Environmental Protection Office Director Todd Mitchell and his team are closely monitoring the BNSF accident near the Swinomish Casino and Resort. Their efforts are crucial in ensuring that the environment and community are protected during this challenging time.”

This is important because accidents involving trains carrying hazardous materials can pose significant risks to the environment and nearby communities. The Swinomish Tribe’s Environmental Protection Office plays a critical role in overseeing the response to the accident and ensuring that any potential environmental impacts are minimized.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback on the issues that matter most to you. If you haven’t had a chance to reach out to my office yet, I encourage you to do so – we’re here to serve you!

Thank you again for all that you do to make our district a fantastic place to live. Have a wonderful weekend!

All best wishes,

Lekanoff sig

Rep. Debra Lekanoff