How to Support Bills You Care About!

Dear friends and neighbors,  

Happy Fantastic Friday!  

We’re off to a busy start to the 2024 legislative session. Please read on for some updates about a new statue on the Capitol, the current reality of climate change in our community, resources and a press conference about fentanyl & the opioid epidemic, my bills this session, and a template to email in support of legislation!  

Honoring Billy Frank Jr.  

I am thrilled to share a momentous occasion in our state’s history—the unveiling of a statue commemorating the remarkable Billy Frank Jr. at the Washington State Capitol. Billy Frank Jr., a fearless advocate for Native American rights and environmental conservation, left an indelible mark on our region. The statue serves as a poignant tribute to his tireless efforts during the “Fish Wars” and his instrumental role in securing tribal fishing rights. It symbolizes not just a man, but a legacy of resilience, justice, and the enduring fight for indigenous rights. This monument reminds us of our commitment to honor and uphold the values Billy Frank Jr. held dear—equality, environmental stewardship, and the strength of diverse voices in shaping our shared future. May this statue stand as a beacon of inspiration for generations to come.  


The Cold Snap Reveals a Harsh Reality – Climate Change Hits Home

In last weekend’s record-breaking cold spell, Whatcom County experienced temperatures plummeting to levels not seen in over seven decades. The bone-chilling freeze wreaked havoc on vulnerable populations, leaving our homeless community struggling against the bitter cold and displacing countless individuals whose homes succumbed to burst pipes and flooding.

This isn’t just a cold snap; it’s a stark reminder that climate change is no longer a distant threat but a pressing reality impacting us now. The bitter winds and frozen landscapes are not merely inconveniences; they are the tangible consequences of a changing planet, demanding our immediate attention and action.

The recent events in Whatcom County underscore the interconnectedness of climate and water policy. Rising temperatures lead to extreme weather events, disrupting the delicate balance of our ecosystems and putting communities at risk. The Climate Commitment Act is not merely a legislative endeavor; it’s a lifeline for our environment, our homes, and our future.

We cannot afford to ignore the signs any longer. Climate change is impacting us in profound and immediate ways, and the time for bold action is now. I urge you to stand with me in supporting the Washington Climate Commitment Act, defending it against those who seek to undermine its imperative.

Healing One Washington

In the shadows of our picturesque landscapes, a silent epidemic has been tightening its grip on our communities. The opioid and fentanyl crisis, a dark undercurrent threatening the fabric of our society, requires us to stand united and declare: “You are not alone.”

In the tapestry of our shared experiences, whether you’re a little girl, a surgeon, a cashier, a mom, a teacher, or a legislator, there is no place for shame. The journey may be tough, but thoughtful individuals, like you, have the power to carry us to a place of healing and hope.

Fighting this epidemic is not just a duty; it is the most critical part of my job. No state policy matters when generations of Washingtonians are losing their lives. Fentanyl, with its ruthless grip, claims over 90% of lives lost to opioids, leaving devastation in its wake.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug poisonings are now a leading cause of death for Americans aged 18-45. In 2022 alone, over 110,000 lives were lost to drug overdoses in the U.S., with nearly 70% attributed to fentanyl and synthetic opioids.

Tribal, state, and local governments must work together to forge a path towards recovery. Tribal wellness centers, at the forefront of Washington’s healing for over a decade, offer a beacon of hope. Together, we can amplify their efforts and create a united front against this pervasive threat.

Alongside respected colleagues and Tribal leaders, I will be hosting a press conference dedicated to addressing the crisis, discussing treatment initiatives, and highlighting the crucial state policies in action to Heal One Washington.

Press Conference Details:

WHEN1:00 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22

WHERESenate Rules Room, 220A Legislative Building, Olympia 

WHORep. Debra Lekanoff (D-Anacortes)

American Indian Health Commission Executive Director Vicki Lowe

Rep. Nicole Macri (D-Seattle), member of the Healthcare & Wellness Committee

Washington State Tribal leaders, including but not limited to:

Lummi Nation Chairman Anthony Hillaire

Colville Business Council Chairman Jarred-Michael Erickson

Makah Tribal member Nate Tyler

The press conference will be available to stream live and watch as an archive on TVW

This press conference will bring together experts in the field, including esteemed colleagues who possess invaluable expertise in tackling the complexities of the fentanyl epidemic. Tribal leaders from across the state will also join us to share insights and strategies deeply rooted in Tribal healing practices.

Our goal is to shed light on the comprehensive approach required to combat this crisis. We will discuss treatment initiatives, state policies currently in action, and the collaborative efforts essential to achieving a unified and effective response.

By standing together and addressing this issue head-on, we aim to instill hope, raise awareness, and foster a sense of community in the face of adversity. Join us as we embark on this journey to Heal One Washington.


Here are resources to share within our community:

Resources by County:

 Outpatient Services: 

  • Didgwálič Wellness Center: 360-588-2800 
  • Consejo Counseling & Referral Services: 360-763-5595 
  • Lifeline Connections: 360-397-8246 (ext. #33150) 
  • Sauk-Suiattle Substance Use Disorder Clinic: 360-436-2237 

 Inpatient Treatment: 

  • Legacy Lodge, Men’s Residential Facility: 360-755-6400 
  • Lake Whatcom Treatment Center: 360-676-6000 

 Youth Services: 

  • Catholic Community Services Recovery Center (serves youth, adults, and families): 360-751-0131 
  • Visions Youth Treatment Center (services for female youth, ages 14 to 17): 360-647-4266 

 Needle Exchange: 

 General Resources: 

  • Washington Recovery Help Line: MOUD Locator
  • Never Use Alone: 877-696-1996 (NEVER use alone or let someone you know use alone. Call this phone number for safe and compassionate support on the line that can call emergency services only if needed. This could save your life, or the life of someone you know.) 

Let’s forge a path of unity, compassion, and resilience against the opioid and fentanyl crisis. 

Mobilize Support for Legislative Initiatives!

As we navigate the legislative landscape, I’m excited to share with you the bills I’m currently championing in this session. At this critical juncture in the legislative process, your support is paramount in propelling these policies across the finish line. Let’s build momentum together! 

Here’s a template you can use to express your support: 

Subject line: SUPPORT FOR HB XXXX (insert bill number here) 

Body: Dear Rep. Lekanoff, 

I am reaching out to express my wholehearted support for HB XXXX (insert bill number here). 

[Feel free to personalize this section with your thoughts or experiences related to the bill.] 


(Your Name) 

My bills: 

Empowering Education with Tribal Sovereignty (HB 1332): This bill ensures that Washington’s public schools integrate tribal sovereignty curriculum, fostering a more inclusive and diverse educational experience. By authorizing grants, mandating monitoring, and encouraging collaboration, the legislation aims to elevate Native American perspectives in education, promoting cultural understanding and enriching the learning environment for all students. 

Ensuring Justice with the Tribal Fugitive Extradition Act (HB 1555): The Tribal Fugitive Extradition Act addresses a significant justice issue by establishing a legal process for the extradition of individuals between Washington State and federally recognized Indian tribes. This legislation ensures the honoring of tribal warrants, closing gaps in the criminal justice system, and promoting reciprocity. It is a crucial step towards protecting victims and creating a fair and cooperative legal framework. 

Expanding Opportunities for Homeless Students (HB 1693): This bill expands the Students Experiencing Homelessness Program. By removing its expiration date and extending its reach to all public four-year institutions and community colleges, this bill emphasizes the importance of providing stable accommodations and assistance to vulnerable students, supporting their educational journey and contributing to statewide higher education goals. 

Revitalizing Washington’s Behavioral Health System (HB 1877): This legislation marks a significant effort to enhance Washington’s behavioral health system. With a focus on collaboration, cultural sensitivity, streamlined licensing for Indian health care providers, and penalties for non-compliance, HB 1877 aims to improve healthcare accessibility while maintaining high-quality standards. The bill underscores the commitment to addressing behavioral health challenges and ensuring equitable and effective care for all. 

John McCoy’s (lulilaš) Legacy (HB 1879): This bill, a tribute to the late John McCoy, officially names the curriculum on tribal history, culture, and government after him. McCoy, the only native with Washington bloodline to serve in the state legislature, made significant contributions by incorporating tribal history into social studies courses. Notably, this legislation embeds his Coast Salish name into state law, recognizing the importance of cultural inclusivity. McCoy, a believer in the power of words, imparted the significance of language, and now his name becomes a culturally significant word enshrined in law. The bill aims to enrich students’ perspectives on tribal history, culture, fostering unity and understanding. 

Streamlining Licensing for Indian Health Care Providers (HB 2075): This legislation streamlines the licensing process for Indian health care providers, recognizing the unique status of Indian health care programs. By simplifying procedures, emphasizing cultural sensitivity, and promoting cooperation in healthcare delivery, the bill aims to improve accessibility and quality of healthcare services, ensuring that providers meet necessary standards. 

Enhancing Cross-Jurisdictional Cooperation (HB 2305): The Tribal Warrants Act focuses on enhancing cooperation between Washington State and federally recognized Indian tribes. By establishing uniform processes for the reciprocal return of individuals, the bill emphasizes due process rights and cross-jurisdictional cooperation. It is a crucial step towards preventing fugitives from evading justice while respecting individual rights and ensuring a fair legal process. 

Supporting Comprehensive Behavioral Health Services (HB 2372): This bill addresses the urgent need for comprehensive alcohol and substance use disorder prevention and behavioral health services. By allowing the transfer of land to tribes for program expansion, the bill supports holistic and culturally based approaches, fostering collaboration between the state and tribes to enhance critical services. It underscores the importance of mutual agreements to expedite necessary permits and promote timely facility construction or renovation. 

Advancing Behavioral Health Crisis Response (HB 2408): This bill advances the state’s behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention system. By emphasizing collaboration, funding for crisis call centers, and advanced technology systems, the bill aims to improve coordination, accountability, and the overall quality of behavioral health crisis services. Real-time information sharing and monitoring trends in crisis hotline data further contribute to the effectiveness of the system, ensuring timely and responsive care for individuals in crisis. 


Visits to Olympia!


I met with WSU Legislative Director Collin Bannister and engaged with a passionate student group from WSU in Olympia advocating for meaningful change on the pressing issue of gun violence.


Grateful for a productive meeting with the Skagit Boys & Girls Club. I was truly impressed by the depth of knowledge on the issues demonstrated by the two young advocates participating for the first time.


Grateful to stand by the display in the Lt. Governor’s office showcasing Billy Frank Jr.’s legacy and the journey to replace our statue in Statuary Hall. This exhibit, open to the public, tells the powerful story of change and honor.

Thank you so much for reading—I appreciate your role in our community, your engagement, and your support.

I’m here for you!


Lekanoff sig

Rep. Debra Lekanoff