That’s a wrap! 2023 Legislative Session Recap

Dear friends and neighbors,  

Happy Fantastic Friday!  

It’s hard to believe we’ve finished the 2023 legislative session! I want to take a moment to thank you for your engagement and advocacy. Your input and feedback have been invaluable in shaping the policies that will impact our communities for years to come.  

Here’s an update on some recent legislative developments from the last few weeks: 

Making Progress for Washington: Highlights of the House Democratic Caucus’s Achievements

Leading the fight to protect reproductive rights and gender affirming care 

I’m proud to share with you the work we’re doing to protect reproductive rights and gender-affirming care in Washington state. At a time when politicians across the country are attacking these fundamental rights, it’s more important than ever that we stand together to protect them. 

One of the most critical pieces of legislation we passed this session is the My Health, My Data Act, which ensures that our deeply personal health information, including reproductive health data, cannot be sold without our consent. We believe that everyone has the right to make their own healthcare decisions without fear of being judged or having their private information compromised. 

We also passed a bill that protects healthcare providers from disciplinary action for providing legal care in our state. This means that if a doctor loses their license in another state for providing care that is legal in Washington, their Washington license remains intact. We believe that healthcare providers should be able to provide the care their patients need without fear of losing their livelihoods. 

To further protect reproductive care, we passed the Shield Law, which provides legal protection for those who pursue or provide reproductive care in Washington. With this law, we’re making it clear that we won’t stand idly by while extremist lawmakers in other states try to restrict reproductive care. We’re committed to ensuring that everyone in our state has access to safe, legal, and affordable reproductive healthcare. 

We also eliminated co-pays and deductible requirements for abortion care, so that no one’s ability to access reproductive healthcare is impacted by their ability to pay. We believe that everyone, regardless of their income, should be able to access the healthcare they need. 

Finally, we passed a bill that allows Washington to distribute mifepristone, which is used to end a pregnancy or for miscarriage management. We believe that every individual has the right to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions, and that those decisions should be made between them and their healthcare provider. 

These bills are just a few examples of the work we’re doing to protect reproductive rights and gender-affirming care in Washington state. We’re committed to fighting for these fundamental rights and ensuring that everyone in our state has access to the healthcare they need. Thank you for your support and for standing with us in this important fight. 


Taking action for safer communities: Gun safety measures  

We are making amazing progress in the fight for gun responsibility. This has been a long-time passion of mine: it pains me deeply to witness the intergenerational anxiety caused by gun violence in schools, and the resulting trauma experienced by our children, families, and communities. 

House Bill 1240House Bill 1143, and Senate Bill 5078 are critical steps toward achieving comprehensive gun responsibility. These bills ban assault weapons, mandate firearm safety training and a 10-day waiting period and ensure that firearm industry members are held accountable for responsible sale, distribution, and marketing of their products. Together, they represent a significant effort towards ensuring the safety of our communities and preventing the devastating impact of gun violence on our families and loved ones. 

gun safety

Housing for every person in every corner of Washington  


This year, my colleagues and I made housing our top legislative priority and we have successfully passed policies to address Washington’s housing supply crisis. With the shortage of about 150,000 units and the number rapidly increasing, we recognized the need for more homes of all types to provide affordable housing options for everyone. Our focus was on allowing more diverse housing options and streamlining the regulatory process to make it easier for developers to build. 

Here’s a summary of what we have accomplished so far: 

One of the bills we passed, House Bill 1110, requires cities to allow for more diverse housing options in residential neighborhoods, depending on their size. This legislation will help slow urban sprawl and prevent deforestation, reduce pollution causing traffic, and protect our watersheds. By increasing middle housing supply, we are also promoting more affordable housing options. 

For cities between 25K and 75K, the legislation requires two units everywhere and four units within a ¼ mile walking distance of a major transit stop. Cities with populations over 75K are required to allow four units everywhere and six units within ¼ mile walking distance of a major transit stop. Additionally, these cities must allow six units anywhere when two units are affordable. 

Cities under 25K and within the contiguous urban growth area of the largest city of a county with a population of 275K are only required to allow two units per lot in all residential zones. 

In addition to HB 1110, we passed House Bill 1337, which eases barriers to accessory dwelling units (ADUs) construction. ADUs are some of the most affordable options to construct additional housing supply. This legislation requires cities and counties to allow ADUs in urban growth areas (UGAs) and prohibits certain regulations that hinder ADU construction. 

House Bill 1042 helps to rapidly convert unused or underused existing buildings into new housing. By removing barriers to creating housing within these existing buildings, we can quickly house families in need. 

To finance affordable housing, we passed House Bill 1046, which increases the benchmark for area median income, opening resources to low-income households. This legislation significantly improves opportunities for partnerships between public housing authorities and private developers. 

Finally, House Bill 1293 streamlines development regulations by requiring cities and counties to apply only clear and objective design review standards to the exterior of new development. This legislation will help streamline the project permit process and create more certain timelines for developers. 


Several bills have been passed to support housing stabilization. These bills include: 

  • House Bill 1474, which establishes a covenant homeownership account and program to provide down payment and closing cost assistance to groups of people identified in a covenant homeownership program study. 
  • House Bill 1695, which creates permanent deeply affordable housing by allowing cities to use surplus public lands to develop projects that result in homeownership opportunities. 
  • House Bill 1074, which protects renters from unfair deposit claims by giving landlords 30 days to submit a statement for retaining any portion of a tenant’s deposit and substantiate the cost of those damages with documentation. 
  • House Bill 1129/Senate Bill 5198, which requires landlords to provide tenants with two years’ notice before closure or conversion of a manufactured/mobile home community, with exceptions like compensating tenants for relocation or cost of their manufactured home to get a quicker closure date. This bill also requires landlords to provide written notice, providing tenant organizations the opportunity to compete to purchase when the owner is selling or leasing a manufactured home community. 
  • House Bill 1771, which improves access to the Manufactured Home Relocation Assistance Fund for manufactured home residents who are forced to move because of site closure. 
  • House Bill 1298/Senate Bill 5258 , which reforms condo liability and warranty regulations and creates a down payment assistance program for first-time homebuyers to buy condos and townhomes. 
  • House Bill 1349, which extends the timeframe to refer homeowners to mediation in the case of a default, prohibits excessive fees for locating or recovering foreclosure surplus funds and other unclaimed property, and adds new language that will delay the trustee sale of a house for the homeowners to apply for federal relief funds. 
  • House Bill 1636, which establishes that homeowners cannot be foreclosed on unless the fees and fines are over $2,000 and the homeowners have had the ability to apply for federal assistance dollars. 


Breaking down barriers: empowering students through the Student Basic Needs Act 

I am proud to share with you the news that House Bill 1559, which was sponsored by Rep. Entenman, passed in the Senate.  This bill, titled the Student Basic Needs Act, aims to remove barriers to educational opportunity for students in Washington by ensuring that their basic needs are met. 

In 2020, the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) reported that six out of 10 community or technical college students in Washington State experienced hunger or housing insecurity in the previous year, despite being employed. This issue affects students of all backgrounds, but students of color, students identifying as LGBTQ, and students with histories of foster care and incarceration are disproportionately represented in the study. 

It is clear that students who are hungry or experiencing housing insecurity have a harder time focusing on their studies. That is why the Student Basic Needs Act is so important. The bill implements Student Basic Needs task forces in higher education institutions, requiring them to develop Hunger-Free Campus Strategic Plans. In each plan, the task force must analyze gaps in student needs, design a Benefits Resource Hub, provide access to a campus food pantry, create and update methods to identify food-insecure students, and provide reports to detail the findings. 

Students need access to basic needs such as food, water, nutrition, shelter, clothing, physical healthcare, and mental healthcare. These needs should not create barriers to education for anyone in Washington. I believe that expanding educational opportunity and breaking down prohibitive barriers for our students is a critical step towards a more equitable and just society. 

Thank you for your continued support for this important initiative. 

Bold climate action for the future of our state 

clean energy

Streamlining clean energy siting 

I am proud to announce the passage of House Bill 1216 and the positive impact it will have on clean energy siting in our state. Working diligently with the tribes, the Department of Ecology, and the Governor’s office, we have crafted a bill that streamlines the permitting process for clean energy projects while still providing a thorough review. 

As we work to decarbonize our economy and expand our energy production, we must consider the environmental impact of these projects. House Bill 1216 ensures that new clean energy projects, including wind, solar, green electrolytic hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuel, and renewable natural gas, will be subject to the same level of review as other projects, but in a more coordinated and streamlined manner. 

I want to emphasize that my colleagues and I have had ongoing conversations to ensure that this bill works for everyone, including our Indigenous communities. In partnership with the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs, the Department of Ecology, the Department of Commerce, and the Office of Archeological and Historical Archives, we are providing capacity funding and direction to engage with our tribes. The State of Washington and the House Environment and Energy Committee are committed to protecting sacred sites and honoring our cultural heritage while still allowing for responsible development. 

I am proud of the work we have done together to create a bill that benefits both the environment and our economy, and I will continue to work on behalf of all Washingtonians to find solutions that work for all of us. 


The 2023 legislative session saw the passage of several other important environmental policies in Washington State. These policies aim to address various issues related to climate change, pollution, and sustainability. They reflect the state’s commitment to taking bold action to protect the environment and build a cleaner, more resilient future for all. From streamlining clean energy siting to banning toxic chemicals in cosmetics, these policies represent a significant step forward in the state’s efforts to tackle environmental challenges and create a more sustainable future. 

  • House Bill 1192/Senate Bill 5165: extends planning horizon to 20 years and requires electric utilities to specifically consider wind and solar resources, streamlines siting of large transmission infrastructure. 
  • House Bill 1170: requires the Department of Ecology to update the Integrated Climate Response Strategy by 2024 and every 4 years thereafter, in collaboration with state agencies, tribes, businesses, and overburdened communities. 
  • House Bill 1329: prohibits utilities and landlords from terminating water or electricity service during extreme heat events, and reasonable efforts to reconnect service are required. 
  • House Bill 1047: bans the use of 9 chemicals in cosmetics, including lead, mercury, formaldehyde, and PFAS. 
  • Senate Bill 5144: sets up a battery collection and recycling program for different types of batteries to avoid waste and toxic contamination. 

A budget for a Resilient Washington

Investing in our community  

I’m proud to have advocated for investment in our community. Here is a list of various projects and programs in different areas that are scheduled to be implemented or improved between the years 2023-2025. The list includes projects related to education, infrastructure, environmental conservation, and community development. These projects are important for the well-being and growth of the communities they serve, and they aim to address various needs and challenges that have been identified. 

  • Building for the Arts: Orcas Center – This project aims to construct a new building for the Orcas Center, a community performing arts center that hosts a range of events and programs, in order to improve its facilities and expand its services. 
  • Library Capital Improvement Program: San Juan Island Library District – This program intends to fund improvements and renovations to the San Juan Island Library District, including the construction of new library buildings, in order to provide better resources and services to the community. 
  • Youth Shelters and Housing: Skagit Valley Family YMCA (Mt. Vernon) – This project aims to build new housing units for homeless and at-risk youth in the Skagit Valley area, in order to provide a safe and stable living environment and support their education and career goals. 
  • Local and Community Projects – These projects include various improvements and renovations to community facilities and infrastructure, such as parking lot and sidewalk rehab, pumpouts to protect the Puget Sound, building renovations, and sports stadium improvements, all of which aim to improve the quality of life for residents in these areas. 
  • Community/Technical College System: Minor Works projects – These projects involve minor repairs, replacements, and improvements to community and technical college facilities, including repairs to buildings, roofs, and infrastructure, and program improvements to enhance the educational experience of students. 
  • Criminal Justice Training Commission: Regional Training Facilities – This project aims to construct new regional training facilities for law enforcement officers, in order to provide better training and resources to officers throughout the state. 
  • Ecology: Floodplains by Design, Remedial Action Grant Program, Elevator Restorations at Ecology Facilities – These projects include initiatives to protect and restore natural habitats, such as floodplain conservation and grant programs to remediate polluted sites, as well as repairs and upgrades to facilities owned by the Washington State Department of Ecology. 
  • Historical Society: Heritage Capital Grant Projects – This program provides funding for historical societies and museums to preserve and improve their facilities, including the Tharald Homestead, in order to protect the state’s cultural heritage for future generations. 
  • Natural Resources: Natural Areas Facilities Preservation and Access – This project aims to preserve natural areas and improve access for recreational use by constructing new trails, campsites, and other amenities. 
  • Public Schools: Skills Centers Minor Works – This project includes minor repairs and renovations to skills centers at public high schools, in order to provide better vocational training and education for students. 
  • Recreation and Conservation Office: Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account, Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board, Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program, Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration, Washington Wildlife Recreation Program – These programs aim to protect and preserve natural resources, including salmon habitats and shoreline access, and fund recreation and conservation projects throughout the state. 
  • State Parks and Recreation Commission: Capital Preservation Pool, State Parks Capital Projects Pool – These programs provide funding for maintenance and capital improvements to state parks and recreation facilities, in order to preserve and enhance their natural beauty and recreational opportunities. 
  • Western Washington University: Access Control Security Upgrades, Classroom, Lab, and Collaborative Space Upgrades, Environmental Studies Renovation, Heating Conversion Project, Minor Works projects, Preventative Facility Maintenance and Building System Repairs – These projects include a variety of upgrades, repairs, and improvements to facilities and infrastructure at Western Washington University, in order to improve the educational experience for students and faculty, and ensure the safety and longevity of university facilities. 

A Budget for all Washingtonians


The Resilient Washington Biennial Operating budget is a $69.3 billion budget to fund critical state services and boosts funding for students, workers, behavioral health, housing, and climate action. The budget prioritizes equity considerations, relying on what communities have shared with lawmakers to guide decisions, considering racial equity with targeted investments while also weaving equity throughout the budget. 

The two-year operating budget adds roughly $4.7 billion in new spending, leaves $3 billion in total reserves, and does not rely on any new general taxes or fees. It also maintains the services expanded using federal funds during the pandemic that protected vulnerable Washingtonians. 

  • Increased funding for public schools and universities. 
  • Expansion of Medicare benefits, including coverage for hearing aids, dental care, and vision. 
  • Increased funding for affordable housing and rental assistance programs. 
  • Investment in infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and public transportation. 
  • Funding for climate change mitigation and renewable energy research. 
  • Expansion of tax credits for working families and low-income earners. 
  • Increase in funding for mental health services and addiction treatment programs. 
  • Investment in early childhood education and child care programs. 
  • Increase in funding for scientific research, including medical research. 
  • Funding for community development and revitalization initiatives. 

Setting Sail to Success: Washington State Invests in New Ferries  

I am pleased to share with you the recent investments the state has made in Washington State Ferries (WSF). As you know, our district heavily relies on ferries for daily commutes to work and school, making the state’s investment in WSF crucial for our community’s economic and social well-being. Through House Bill 1846, the state has opened the procurement of new vessels to national shipbuilders while still prioritizing Washington shipbuilders by providing a 13 percent credit for bid proposals for vessels constructed in-state. These investments will ensure WSF continues to operate safely and efficiently, providing essential transportation services to our community for years to come. 


I’m so proud of the work from this session that will improve the lives of Washingtonians and make our communities safer, greener, and more equitable. 

As we move forward, I encourage you to stay involved, stay informed, and continue advocating for the issues that matter to you. Stay tuned for information about opportunities to connect over the interim. I look forward to working together towards a brighter future for our state. 

I am here for you!

All best wishes,

Lekanoff sig

Rep. Debra Lekanoff