Welcome to the 2024 Legislative Session!

Happy Fantastic Friday!

Dear friends and neighbors,  

The 2024 Legislative Session begins on Monday, January 8. We’re dedicated to advancing the well-being of every Washingtonian. With unwavering determination, the House Democratic Caucus is tackling the housing crisis head-on, ensuring that every individual in our state has a secure and stable home. Our commitment extends to combatting the opioid epidemic, where we prioritize public health, accessible treatment, and preventive measures. In the realm of K-12 education, we’re providing our children with the resources they need to flourish. Acknowledging the pivotal role of childcare, we push for comprehensive reforms to make quality care accessible to all working families. At the heart of our agenda is a focus on behavioral health services, advocating for a resilient system that prioritizes mental well-being. Moreover, as a steadfast steward of our environment, we stand firm in safeguarding Washington’s natural beauty and ecological balance. As we navigate this legislative session, the WA House Democratic Caucus, inspired by the spirit of progress, is prepared to enact transformative policies that uplift our great state. 

Here are some ways to stay in touch and engaged: 

One of my greatest legislative priorities is to continue to serve our community. Your feedback, advocacy, ideas, and stories are very important to me and help to inform the work that I do.   

Here are some ways to stay engaged:   

  • Watch — TVW.org broadcasts all the debates and votes that happen in the House and Senate, along with committee meetings and other events you may be interested in. You can watch live or access recorded content.  
  • Research — Look up legislation by lawmaker or by topic.  
  • Learn — Learn about the legislative process, from start to finish.  
  • Testify — Committee testimony will continue to have a virtual option, so instead of driving to Olympia to weigh in on legislation during the committee process, you can continue to do so from home. Written testimony is also an option, and you can always share your story with me. Learn more about how to testify.   
  • Get in touch — You can reach my office by email at Debra.Lekanoff@leg.wa.gov, or are welcome to call the legislative hotline number (toll free 800-562-6000). This year, we will accommodate in-person and virtual meetings. To schedule a meeting, please contact my Legislative Assistant, Devon McBride at Devon.McBride@leg.wa.gov.   

get in touch

Addressing the Opioid Crisis Together

I stand before you with a heavy heart, recognizing the gravity of the opioid and fentanyl crisis plaguing our communities. Fentanyl is claiming over 90% of lives lost to opioids. Governor Inslee’s proposed legislative priorities, which I wholeheartedly support, address this crisis head-on.

In our fight against this epidemic, the governor’s supplemental budget allocates $64 million, building upon the existing $200 million in the 2023-25 budget. The goal is clear – to save lives, prevent overdoses, and bring treatment closer to those in desperate need. Our Tribal communities, disproportionately affected, are at the forefront of our focus, with measures to enhance public safety and disrupt the drug supply network.

This comprehensive approach acknowledges the evolving stages of our state’s opioid crisis, from prescription misuse to the lethal emergence of fentanyl. Critical investments include public education, health engagement hubs, overdose prevention, and treatment accessibility. Our youth, starting substance use as early as age 14, must be a priority, and the proposal modernizes opioid prevention education to meet this challenge.

The legislation goes further, responding to fentanyl’s impact on children with a public health approach, enhancing safety for families affected, and providing support through resources like Health Engagement Hubs. It establishes a solid foundation for expanded opioid treatment programs, overdose prevention efforts, and recovery support.

In the spirit of collaboration, the governor’s proposal also supports Tribal governments, recognizing their unique challenges. It ensures that our Indigenous youth receive the care they need through organizations like Rise Above, a Native-led nonprofit empowering youth to lead healthy lives.

This multifaceted strategy aligns with our shared commitment to saving lives and addressing the complex challenges posed by this public health emergency. Let us stand together, united against the opioid and fentanyl crisis, working towards a healthier and safer future for all.


Salmon Restoration

I am unwavering in my commitment to address environmental issues and safeguard our region’s natural resources. Our primary focus will be on protecting Puget Sound by minimizing harmful nutrients harming the ecosystem. This involves developing an efficient program that enables wastewater treatment plants to offset nutrient contamination through credit purchases.

Salmon recovery remains one of my top priorities, and the Governor’s proposed funding will support increased surveys and monitoring for coastal salmonids, fish production investments, non-native predator suppression in Lake Washington, and ecosystem restoration projects in the Whidbey Basin. Our dedication to habitat preservation extends to coastal areas, with funded projects aimed at restoring aquatic and terrestrial habitats on the Washington coast through the Natural Climate Solutions Account.

We’re also supporting initiatives such as the Estuary and Salmon Restoration program and addressing fish barriers through the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board projects. Recognizing the importance of carbon storage, we plan to enhance forest-related biodiversity, protect water quality, and support salmon habitats.


Everyone Needs a Home

Addressing the pressing challenges of housing and homelessness remains a top priority in the upcoming legislative session. Despite Washington’s thriving economy, housing prices have become a significant hurdle for many families and workers. In 2023, historic investments were made to create over 13,200 affordable homes for those with lower incomes over the next six years, along with expanded emergency housing options for approximately 2,300 people experiencing homelessness.

However, the need continues to grow, with rising eviction rates and increased vulnerability among renters: Washington needs over a million housing units by 2044, with an obvious emphasis on affordability.

To meet this challenge, we have consistently increased funding for housing since 2013, culminating in historic investments totaling over $1 billion in the 2023-25 budgets. This includes $400 million for the Housing Trust Fund, constructing affordable units and preserving existing ones.

The urgency of Washington’s housing challenges is recognized, and proposed initiatives cover a wide spectrum. The Rights of Way Safety Initiative has closed 30 encampments, and the governor’s supplemental budget proposes a $100 million investment in the Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition program, creating an additional 1,350 units for those transitioning out of encampments.

The strategic agenda for 2024 focuses on critical areas, such as enhancing the Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition program, supporting local housing programs, and addressing the unique housing needs of specific communities, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In summary, the proposed investments for 2024 underscore our commitment to creating real solutions for housing and homelessness, because everyone in Washington deserves a home.

 Revolutionizing Washington’s Climate Strategy

Transforming Washington’s Future: The Climate Commitment Act (CCA) is driving real change with a hefty $2.1 billion budget in 2023-25. Guided by Governor Jay Inslee, this bold initiative tackles climate issues head-on and propels us toward a sustainable future.


Tribal Power for Clean Energy: We’re investing $2 million in a Tribal Clean Energy Innovation and Training Center at Northwest Indian College. It’s more than a center; it’s a stepping stone for tribes in clean energy jobs and technologies.

Waste Turnaround with $5 Million: Thanks to the CCA, the Department of Commerce gets $5 million to make industries eco-friendly. This means less waste, less pollution, and a big win for our environment.

Boosting Rural Innovations with $2.7 Million: The Innovation Cluster Accelerator program is getting a $2.7 million boost. Why? Because we believe in growing clean tech in rural areas and making sure no one is left behind.

Nisqually Tribe’s Power Move: We’re giving $4 million to the Nisqually Tribe to create their own microgrid. It’s not just about power; it’s about empowering tribes to control their energy destiny.

Green Skills for Everyone: With $2.5 million from CCA and an extra $6 million, we’re bringing climate solutions into community colleges. We want everyone to be part of the clean energy wave.

Wind Power for Washington: We’re putting $750,000 to check if we can lead in the offshore wind game. It’s not just turbines; it’s jobs, growth, and a cleaner future for Washington.

Hydrogen: The Future’s Fuel: A cool $1.1 million goes into making hydrogen the next big thing. Cleaner fuel, smart uses, and even storing it underground – we’re on the cutting edge!

Looking Out for Everyone: Governor Inslee is putting almost $900 million from CCA into play. Over 40% of that is for our communities that need it most, and nearly $23 million goes straight to Tribes. It’s not just about climate; it’s about helping people thrive.

Building a Tougher Washington: It’s not just money; it’s action. We’re expanding salmon habitats, fixing stormwater issues, and making our coasts stronger. Our forests, agriculture, and communities are getting a boost to face the challenges ahead.

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Thank you so much for reading! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office—I’d love to hear from you this session.

See you next Fantastic Friday!

All best wishes,

Lekanoff sig

Rep. Debra Lekanoff