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Final Week: Bridging Communities

Happy Marvelous Monday!

Dear friends and neighbors,

I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who joined our Telephone Town Hall last week. I’m grateful for your engagement, thoughtful questions and active participation in our civic process.

I am honored to serve with my two colleagues and friends, Senator Liz Lovelett and Representative Alex Ramel and together we were joined by over 100 constituents at the 40th Telephone Townhall.   It is the collaboration that I admire the most as I come into my sixth term serving in the legislature. Our 40th District legislative wingspan of us to work on vital matters that stretch from transportation, infrastructure, education, fentanyl crisis, public safety to housing. Believe me, the list does not stop there! Together we are standing together to move SB603, which is a that brings tribal, state, local, state and federal governments together to explore renewable energy in our district. We are in an place where it is time for all governing bodies to work together for the future of energy in a manner that respects the consultation with tribes, engagement with local government and collaboration across the governing bodies.  Each of us have a role to lift the bill, and it is a relationship that places the 40th in place that moves important policy across the finish line.


Saving the Lives of our Children

The opioid epidemic’s reach is extensive, touching communities across Washington. Currently, the law mandates Narcan only in high schools within larger districts, leaving many of our students without this vital resource. This glaring inequity has deeply troubled students throughout the state, prompting them to take action.

Senate Bill 5804, championed by a group of dedicated high school seniors from Lake Washington High School, addresses the critical issue of opioid overdose reversal medication in our public schools. I had the privilege of meeting of meeting with this group of youth, and they shared heart breaking and tragic event—an untimely overdose death of a classmate. These students rightly believe that every student, regardless of school size or location, deserves protection from the dangers of opioid overdose.

Recognizing the urgency of their cause and turned to a colleague of mine.  A legislative colleague who was a new father, a leader in his community, and shared the same passion as I did to save the lives of children.  I shared the amendments below with 42nd LD, Representative Joe Timmons, and he championed a bipartisan amendment that received a yea vote to Senate Bill 5804. You see, this is what we do in the northern legislative districts, we raise one another up.  This amendment aims to broaden access to opioid reversal drugs in all public schools and tribal compact schools statewide. Crafted through thoughtful dialogue with myself, the sponsors of the bill, and concerned community members, this amendment seeks to rectify the current gap in access to life-saving resources.

Key points of the proposed amendment include:

  • Expansion of Access: Public schools and tribal compact schools would be empowered to include opioid reversal drugs in all first aid kits and sports medicine kits.
  • Emergency Preparedness: These schools would also be mandated to place opioid reversal drugs alongside mandatory defibrillators, ensuring swift access during emergencies.
  • Visibility and Accessibility: Schools will additionally be required to provide maps indicating the locations of emergency exits, defibrillators, and opioid reversal drugs, enhancing visibility and accessibility of these critical resources.
  • Funding: To support implementation, appropriate agencies, such as the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), will provide funding to ensure schools have the necessary supplies and resources.

This amendment not only aims to save lives but also to foster a culture of safety and preparedness in our schools. By equipping educators and students with the tools needed to respond effectively to opioid overdoses, we can mitigate the devastating impact of this crisis on our communities.

Read more about the students who introduced this bill & watch their powerful testimony here.

Opioid trends across Washington State

Statistics in the 40th Legislative District:  University of Washington, Addictions, Drugs and Alcohol Institute.

Maps by primary opioid category will appear below when you select a type of map.

See death rates by county See death rates by Accountable Community of Health

  1. Probable heroin
  2. Other opioids
    1. Commonly prescribed opioids
      1. Methadone
      2. Other natural and semi-synthetic opioids: Oxycodone, codeine, morphine, etc.
    2. Other synthetic opioids: Pethidine, tramadol, fentanyl and analogues, etc.
    3. Other and unspecified narcotics, including opium

Opioid Death Counts in the 40th Legislative District Counties.

County:                       Skagit

Deaths per 100,000 residents, 2002-2004:               5.61

Deaths per 100,000 residents, 2020-2022:               19.70

Percent increase, 2020-22  over 2002-04:                 251.4%

County:                       Whatcom

Deaths per 100,000 residents, 2002-2004:               5.66

Deaths per 100,000 residents, 2020-2022:               18.11

Percent increase, 2020-22  over 2002-04:                 220.2%

County:                       San Juan

Deaths per 100,000 residents, 2002-2004:               4.51

Deaths per 100,000 residents, 2020-2022:               3.72

Percent increase, 2020-22  over 2002-04:                 -17.5%

Senator Maria Cantwell held a federal oversight hearing in June 2024 and I held a House Legislative Hearing in December 2024 on the fentanyl crisis in WA State.  Here is a fact from her office; “Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in Washington state, outnumbering deaths from vehicle collisions and firearms. Data released earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the State of Washington experienced the single highest increase among U.S. states in reported drug overdose deaths between February 2022 and February 2023, an increase of 21.42%.”

My commitment to the 40th Legislative District

We have been meeting with local government and tribal governments, as we know that the work on the ground with dedicated people who are reaching people, families and saving lives. We will continue to stay engaged at all governing bodies to address the fastest growing epidemic that is sweeping across out state. I will remain focused on long term policy and fiscal investments that will take multiple years. Today I find myself are investing in the immediate need for capacity for treatment centers; investing in workforce development, increasing the capacity to invest in public law enforcement, removing jurisdiction barriers; providing naloxone and Narcan into schools system and training to apply the lifesaving medication, and investing in a public educating campaign and a focus on K-12 school education.

Now is the time to come together, for our children, parents, grandparents, neighbors, and communities. In this session our entire state legislature has united with a common purpose and say to families in Washington, and together we reach to share with our constituents and say, “You are not alone.”

This is our most pressing challenge and most important duty because generations of Washingtonians are losing their lives. Washington’s communities and families are living in fear but I want to make it clear:  We are working together, across tribal, local, state and federal governments. We are working together across the aisle and rotunda and branches from the Governor’s Office, AG Office to the Treasurer’s office. We are working together as policy makers, teachers, police officers, paramedics, counselors, nurses, caregivers, doctors, and students…..as brothers, sister, grandparents, fathers and as …. Mothers.

We have been facing an opioid and fentanyl epidemic since before COVID, and today we are seeing spics in our communities where the loss to opioid and fentanyl are passing the amount of loved ones we have lost to COVID. The statistics speak for them selves today – WE ARE IN A CRISIS.

In Lummi Nation, the aunties have the dirt on their shoes from the burial grounds they stand upon every other day, and the tears on their kleenix that remains in their pockets.  The tears of family members is not only in Lummi, but behind every door in WA State.  Each of us can find the dirt on our shoes from someone we have lost.

Each of us can share the names of those who we have lost and those who are suffering.

For me, today I remember Danayle Wilson.  I remember that she dedicated her life to healing so many across Lummi and Whatcom County, and her love will always stay with us.  She is our beacon to healing.

Our Washington Tribes have led in state efforts for the last decade, providing healing to Washington’s youth, adults, and elders of substance use, alcohol use, and other crisis care.  Their success give us a blueprint to Heal One Washington together. When we invest in our tribal partners, we make hope not just possible, but attainable for every community.


As I close out this Fantastic Friday, I want to share with you all of the work we are doing together across the Senate and House, with tribal and local governments.

  • Revitalizing Washington’s Behavioral Health System (HB 1877)
  • Supporting Comprehensive Behavioral Health Services (HB 2372)
  • Streamlining Licensing for Indian Health Care Providers (HB 2075)
  • Community-Based Recovery Programs: Emphasize the significance of investing in community-based recovery solutions, including facilities for youth and elders.
  • Limited Liability arising from the use of trained police dogs. Fentanyl Training and Safety for Police Dogs (HB1635)
  • Supporting young adults following inpatient behavioral health treatment. (HB1929)
  • Addressing fentanyl and other substance use prevention education. (HB1956)
  • Increasing the licensure fees that support the Washington physicians health program.(HB1972)
  • Concerning opioid and fentanyl prevention education and awareness at institutions of higher education. (HB2112)
  • Establishing co-response services and training as an essential component of the crisis care continuum. (HB2245)
  • Concerning substance use disorder treatment. (HB2319)
  • Concerning fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. (HB2396)
  • Updating the endangerment with a controlled substance statute to include fentanyl or synthetic opioids. (SB5010)
  • Concerning opioid overdose reversal medication in public schools. (SB5804)
  • Implementing a statewide drug overdose prevention and education campaign. (SB5906)
  • Establishing clear authority for the secretary of health to issue standing orders. (SB6095)
  • Creating the tribal opioid prevention and treatment account. (SB6099)
  • Supporting children and families (SB6109)
  • Modernizing the child fatality statute. (SB6110)
  • Concerning tribal warrants.(SB6146)

Operating Budget

  1. $4.7 million in tribal supports – community behavioral health, native youth sports programs, tribal schools opioid prevention pilot
    1. Tribal Supports – Icelandic Model
      1. The Icelandic Prevention Model focuses on the four domains of youth life: family, peer group, school and leisure time. It is based on the idea that substance use is primarily a social and environmental problem, rather than an individual problem. Funding is provided to support implementation of the model in tribal communities.
    2. Tribal Opioid Fentanyl Campaign
      1. Funds are provided for Native Lives, a campaign to inform and educate tribal communities about opioid misuse prevention, overdose response, and treatment. The campaign, geared to multiple age groups including youth, provides Tribes with education on using naloxone, finding drug treatment, helping people who are in recovery, and preventing addiction.
    3. Tribal Fentanyl Summit
      1. Funding is provided for a summit to bring Tribal leaders, the governor, and state agency leaders together to discuss the impact of the opioid crisis on Native communities across Washington State.
    4. Tribal Schools Opioid Prev. Pilot
      1. Funding is provided for OSPI to administer a pilot program for state-tribal education compact schools and before and after school programs offered by tribes to adopt opioid and fentanyl abuse prevention materials and resources during the 2024-25

Capital Budget

Capital Budget investments totaling $30.8 million into statewide health facilities for all Washingtonians thru diverse and targeted areas of critical care system, recovery and wellness inpatient and outpatient services, medicated inpatient and outpatient services.

Let me share with you a story. In the 40th LD, the Swinomish didgʷálič Center has served the entire northern area from Lyden to Sumas, from Anacortes to San Juans, from Burlington to Arlington, from Mount Vernon to Marysville. didgʷálič (deed-gwah-leech) Wellness Center is a multispecialty community health organization owned and operated by the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. They provide counseling, medication-assisted treatment, primary care, dental, and social services, both inpatient and outpatient to both Native and non-Native patients with substance use and behavioral health disorders.

In the 8 years, didgʷálič  shared that they serve an average of 400 patients a day, and these numbers speak for themselves on both how many lives are being touched, but also how big of a crisis have been in for quite some time.  For 8 years the wellness sees an average of 400 patients, thus they have touched 4.4 million lives. 4.4 million.

We are investing in healing our communities and this is just the start.


Find Help Now – You are Not Alone

Find Treatment: Millions of Americans face mental health and substance use disorders. Find confidential and safe treatment by zip code: FindTreatment.gov.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline-  In Crisis? Find Help Now

Sometimes help can’t wait. If you or someone you know is in danger or having a medical emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available.

  • Call or text: 988
  • Chat: org

Treatment Referral and Information System – Find Help Now SAMSHA

Hot Line: SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Thank you so much for reading!


Lekanoff sig

Rep. Debra Lekanoff