Amplifying Your Voices: Constituent Voices Matter

Dear friends and neighbors,  

Happy Fantastic Friday! 

I hope this message finds you in good health and high spirits! Your voice is the driving force behind meaningful change in Washington. In this newsletter, I’d like to celebrate the power of constituent voices. I’m excited to share with you some reflections on the Boldt Decision, an update on my Heal One Washington Press Conference, our work on salmon and other environmental initiatives this session, and an invite to an upcoming 40th LD Telephone Town Hall!  

You’re Invited to Our Telephone Town Hall!  

I’m excited to connect with you! Join me for a Telephone Town Hall on Wednesday, February 21, from 6:30-7:30 pm. This is a fantastic opportunity to discuss important issues, share your thoughts, and stay informed about legislative updates. Your voice matters, and I look forward to our conversation. Dial in and let’s make this a meaningful dialogue for our community. 


The Right to Our Own Lands and Waters

I am honored to commemorate a pivotal moment in our state’s history—the anniversary of the Boldt Decision. In 1974, the Supreme Court’s judgment in the United States v. Washington marked more than a legal victory; it was a profound affirmation of Washington Tribal Treaty rights within the US Constitution.

Before the Boldt Decision, our Tribal communities endured a challenging journey, facing adversity and trauma as they fought for recognition, justice, and respect for their way of life. The struggle extended far beyond the rivers—it was a battle for sovereignty, the defense of sacred traditions, and the right to be Indian in our own lands and waters.

Today, my legislative colleagues and I stand with our Washington Tribes to honor the remarkable leaders who paved the way, including Billy Frank Jr, Ramona Bennett, Mason Morsette, Bernie Gobin, Bob Joe, Lorraine Loomis, and countless others. Their commitment protected a way of life passed down from generation to generation.

The impact of the Boldt Decision reaches beyond fishing waters; it symbolizes a broader struggle for recognition, respect, and rights for Native Americans. It stands as a testament to decades of challenges and an unwavering fight to protect sovereignty and a unique way of life.

As we reflect on this historic day, we celebrate our ancestors’ resilience, unity, and unyielding spirit. Their sacrifices have set the stage for future generations. Looking forward, we remain committed to continuing this legacy, striving for a future where our rights are unquestioned, our traditions celebrated, and our contributions integral to the fabric of Washington State.

Heal One Washington

I am honored to share with you the important discussions that unfolded during the Heal One Washington Press Conference that I had the privilege of hosting alongside esteemed colleagues and tribal leaders.

During the press conference held on January 22 at the Capitol, we addressed the devastating reality that tribal members in Washington State are four times more likely to overdose and die on opioids than the state average. Tribal wellness centers have been at the forefront of Washington’s healing for over a decade, offering hope and healing.

It was a solemn moment when Lummi Nation Chairman Anthony Hillaire emphasized, “This is the most devastating threat we have seen.”

To tackle this crisis, I presented the Heal One Washington response plan, which includes two task forces and one youth awareness campaign. The plan aims to address the fentanyl epidemic comprehensively, advocating for prevention through public information campaigns, K-12 education, drug task force initiatives, and substantial investments in detox, recovery, inpatient/outpatient services, and aftercare support.

During the press conference, four of my bills were presented to address alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder among tribal members, reinforcing our commitment to combating this crisis:

  • HB 1877: Revitalizing Washington’s Behavioral Health System.
  • HB 2305: Enhancing Cross-Jurisdictional Cooperation.
  • HB 2372: Supporting Comprehensive Behavioral Health Services.
  • HB 2075: Streamlining Licensing for Indian Health Care Providers.

The press conference brought together tribal leaders, Nisqually Chairman Willie Frank Jr and Councilwoman Shay Squally, Lummi  Nation Chairman Anthony Hillaire, past Makah Tribal Chair Nate Tyler Rep. Nicole Macri (D-Seattle). The event highlighted the collaborative efforts essential to achieving a unified and effective response to the opioid, fentanyl and behavioral and mental health crisis.

I invite you to join us in this journey by standing together, addressing the issue head-on, and instilling hope, awareness, and a sense of community in the face of adversity.

The press conference recording is available to watch on TVW, providing an opportunity to gain insights into the comprehensive approach required to combat this crisis.

Let us unite, not only as constituents but as a community, to Heal One Washington.

Protecting the Health of Our Ecosystem

As your representative, it’s always been my commitment to advocate for our environment and the iconic salmon that are an integral part of our Pacific Northwest heritage. The opioid crisis, devastating in its reach, has touched the lives of generations. Our fight for a healthier Washington extends beyond the environment because none of it matters when our loved ones are lost to this crisis.

Today, I want to share with you the deeper connections between the challenges we face and the legislation we champion.

This brings me to House Bill 2463, a critical step in assessing and enhancing salmon planning and recovery efforts. Salmon are not just a vital part of our ecosystem; they hold profound cultural significance for our Tribes. The health of our environment and the health of our citizens are intertwined, much like the Healing One Washington initiative aims to mend the fabric of our communities affected by the opioid crisis.

As we work towards a comprehensive review of salmon recovery, we’re not only safeguarding the environment but also acknowledging the role salmon play in the well-being of our Tribes, the ecological balance, and the fabric of our shared heritage.

Watch my testimony on this bill here.

Constituent Voices Matter

1. The Green Amendment: Empowering Washington for Generations

Our commitment to a cleaner, healthier Washington is taking a monumental step forward with the Washington Green Amendment. Initiated by your concerns and unwavering support, I introduced a resolution to amend the state constitution, safeguarding your right to clean water, pure air, a stable climate, and a healthy environment.

This amendment, inspired by successful efforts in Pennsylvania and Montana, is a testament to your dedication to environmental justice. It recognizes the profound connection between a healthy environment and the well-being of every Washingtonian, present, and future. We believe in building a foundation for prosperity that aligns with the values of generations past and preserves the beauty of our great state.

Watch my testimony here.

2. Recycling Revamp: The Voice of Our Youth Advocates

The RE-WRAP Act embodies the strength of young advocates who passionately voiced their concerns. This legislation encompasses the aspirations of youth groups, addressing the environmental challenges they care deeply about. Your collective voices have led to the creation of a legislative framework that truly reflects the values and needs of our community.


HB 2144 boosts beverage container recycling: this bill encourages recycling by letting beverage distributors run a system where you get a 10-cent refund for returning qualifying containers. It’s all about responsibility and aiming for an 80% recycling rate by 2032. Let’s make Washington cleaner and greener!

HB 2049 says producers of paper products must help with recycling. They’ll fund an organization that makes sure these products get collected and recycled properly. Plus, it makes sure certain plastic products use more recycled materials. It’s a step towards a more Earth-friendly Washington.

Update On My Bills:

Empowering Education with Tribal Sovereignty (HB 1332): Passed in the House! Next stop, the Senate!

Revitalizing Washington’s Behavioral Health System (HB 1877): Heard in the House Appropriations Committee—scheduled for vote on February 5th.

John McCoy’s (lulilaš) Legacy (HB 1879): Passed in committee! Next stop, the House floor!

Streamlining Licensing for Indian Health Care Providers (HB 2075): Passed in committee! Next stop, the House floor!

Supporting Comprehensive Behavioral Health Services (HB 2372): Passed in committee! Next stop, the House floor!

Advancing Behavioral Health Crisis Response (HB 2408): Heard in the House Appropriations Committee—scheduled for vote on February 3rd.

Visits to Olympia:


Reconnecting with familiar faces: cherished moments with Western Washington University President Sabah Randhawa and Nora Halbert.


Engaging discussions on Senior Advocacy Day with the dedicated team from the Northwest Regional Council in Olympia, focusing on essential services for aging and disabled Washingtonians.


Physician and physician assistants “climbed the hill” last week to share about their experiences in the house of medicine and legislative priorities.

Your voice matters. Here’s How you can contribute:

  • Stay informed: Follow the progress of legislation you care about!
  • Engage with your community: Share your thoughts and concerns with me directly.
  • Support upcoming initiatives: Your involvement shapes the future of Washington.

Your voice matters, and together, we are creating a Washington that cherishes its environment, protects its citizens, and empowers future generations.

Thank you so much for reading!

Lekanoff sig

Rep. Debra Lekanoff