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Town Hall Invite, Rent Stabilization, & Honoring John McCoy!

Friends and neighbors,

Happy Fantastic Friday!

We’re delighted to invite you to a telephone town hall with us Wednesday, February 21st beginning at 6:30. We will discuss issues still in consideration after House of Origin cutoff and take your questions. We hope to see you there!


Who: 40th District Legislators Senator Lovelett and Representatives Lekanoff and Ramel.

What: Telephone Town Hall

When: 6:30-7:30 PM, Wednesday, February 21st.

How: Call in via 877-229-8493. Once prompted, provide the pin 116359.

Submit questions in advance: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5FNB3X2

Reflecting on the 50th Anniversary of the Boldt Decision

This week, we commemorated a significant milestone in Washington’s history – the 50th Anniversary of the Boldt Decision.

This landmark Supreme Court ruling, which occurred fifty years ago, affirmed the tribal treaty rights of Washington’s Native American people. It set a precedent for justice, respect, and sovereignty within the U.S. Constitution. The Boldt Decision was more than just a legal victory; it was a validation of a way of life that has been fiercely protected and passed down through generations.

As we honor this momentous day, let us take a moment to remember the resilience and determination of leaders like Billy Frank Jr., Ramona Bennett, Bernie Govan, and many others who courageously stood for their people’s rights.

Moving forward, let us ensure that the spirit of the Boldt Decision continues to guide us towards a future marked by justice, equality, and respect for all.

Watch my video with Rep. Stearns about the Boldt Decision here! 


Working Together as One Washington: Honoring John McCoy’s Legacy

I want to share a story close to my heart about the late Senator John McCoy and his profound impact on our state’s governance.

Throughout my six years of service in the legislature, I’ve been privileged to witness the strength that comes from bringing all governing bodies together. Senator McCoy, a dedicated public servant who served almost two decades in both the House and Senate, exemplified this ethos. He tirelessly advocated for policies spanning education, technology, broadband, public safety, and governance, always with a focus on collaboration and consultation.

In one of our conversations, Senator McCoy emphasized the importance of bridging the gap between the state and tribal governing bodies. He shared stories of colleagues seeking to understand how these entities could work together effectively. It was clear that Senator McCoy’s commitment to building bridges between communities was unwavering.

Addressing Sovereignty and Education:

Following in Senator McCoy’s footsteps, I am deeply committed to strengthening our one Washington by fostering relationships and acknowledging the sovereignty of Native American tribes. One crucial step in this journey is ensuring that our public school curriculum incorporates the rich history and contributions of the First Washingtonians. I’m proud to share that House Bill 1879 passed in the House on January 31.

The Since Time Immemorial Curriculum, nearly two decades old, is a vital resource that should be integrated into every public school across the state. While progress has been made, with nearly half of schools adopting the curriculum, it’s disheartening that we still need to mandate compliance. Incorporating this curriculum is not just about meeting a legal requirement; it’s about honoring our shared history and fostering collaboration with the 29 federally recognized tribes of Washington state.

Joining Together for Change:

I invite you to watch this video honoring Senator McCoy’s legacy and reflecting on the importance of his work. Let’s honor his memory by continuing to advocate for meaningful change and collaboration in our communities.

Thank you for your unwavering support as we work together to build a stronger, more inclusive Washington for all.


Bringing Stability to Renters in Washington

Today, I am proud to share with you a significant legislative victory for housing stability in our state: the passage of House Bill 2114. This important piece of legislation aims to improve housing stability for tenants across Washington, particularly those subject to the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act and the Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act.

Key Points of HB 2114:

  • Limiting Rent and Fee Increases: The bill puts a cap on how much landlords can raise rent and fees – they can only go up by 7 percent in a year. Plus, during the first year of renting, landlords can’t increase them at all.
  • Protecting Tenants: Tenants get more rights under this bill. Landlords have to give them notice before raising rent or fees. Tenants also have the option to end their lease early in certain situations. And there are rules to prevent landlords from charging too much for move-in fees, security deposits, or late fees.
  • Enforcing the Rules: HB 2114 makes sure the rules are followed. If landlords break the law, the Attorney General can step in. Tenants can also take legal action against landlords who don’t play by the rules.
  • Help for Landlords and Tenants: The Department of Commerce will create an online center to help both landlords and tenants understand the new rules better. This will make it easier for everyone to follow the law.
  • Understanding the Impact: The bill also requires an assessment to see how these new rules affect different communities. This will help make sure the rules are fair and work for everyone.

The passage of HB 2114 is one of the most positively impactful policies we can implement to tackle our state’s housing crisis. Rent stabilization is critical for ensuring predictability and stability for all renters, including our diverse communities in the 40th Legislative District. In Skagit County, about 60% of people are renters—and 8,000 of these renters are rent-burdened. In Whatcom County, about 40% of people are renters, and over half are rent-burdened. In San Juan County, about one quarter of people are renters.

For too long, individuals and families have been forced to make impossible choices between basic needs and housing. HB 2114 seeks to alleviate this burden, ensuring that our grandparents, parents, students, and essential workers do not have to sacrifice their well-being to keep a roof over their heads.

Statement from the MOCC:

I want to share with you a statement issued by a group of my House colleagues addressing one of the issues that is so important to my constituents. I am a proud member of the Members of Color Caucus (MOCC), representing diverse interests and districts. We have united to address the urgent issue of housing instability in Washington. With rent prices soaring and homelessness rates climbing, particularly among marginalized communities, action is imperative. This year, House Bill 2114 aims to stabilize rent increases, recognizing that the financial strain of escalating rents leads to stress, trauma, and negative health outcomes for families.

“The ugly truth is that Washington is in the throes of a housing affordability crisis. Too many people in this state struggle to afford housing and stay housed. The cost of housing for Washingtonians has undeniably skyrocketed, with renters reporting an average increase of 20% in housing costs — in some cases happening consistently, year over year. Nationwide, a $100 increase in rent is associated with a 9% increase in the rate of homelessness — even when controlling for other factors, like wages, unemployment, and poverty. A study looking at metro areas found the same $100 increase in median rents to be associated with a 15% increase in homelessness, and as high as a 39% increase in nearby rural areas. This cannot continue.”

The MOCC emphasizes that historically excluded communities, including Black, Indigenous, and people of color, are disproportionately impacted by this crisis, as they are more likely to be renters due to systemic barriers to homeownership. Over 100 community-based organizations have joined the call for action, urging legislators to prioritize the voices and struggles of those directly affected by the housing affordability crisis. It’s time to listen and act to ensure housing stability for all Washingtonians.

Read our statement on rent stabilization here.

A Call to Action:

As your representative, I urge you to join me in supporting rent stabilization efforts. Together, we can ensure that all Washingtonians have access to safe, affordable housing. Let’s work towards a future where housing stability is not a luxury but a fundamental right for every resident of our state.

This bill is currently in the Senate Ways and Means committee–and now is your opportunity to testify in support of this bill! Learn how to testify hereIf you cannot appear before a committee, contact your legislator making your position on a bill known. You can do so by writing a letter, sending an e-mail, calling the legislator’s Olympia office, or by calling the Legislative Hotline at 800-562-6000.


Supporting Fairness and Accountability in Our Courts

I’m reaching out to talk about an important law that could make our local courts fairer and more effective: House Bill 1994. This bill is about making sure that people who commit minor offenses are held accountable in a way that helps them get back on track.

What HB 1994 Does:

HB 1994 lets judges dismiss certain misdemeanor cases once the person has met certain requirements set by the court. These requirements are different for each person and are meant to help them take responsibility for their actions and address any issues that led to the charges.

Why This Law Matters for Skagit County:

Here’s why HB 1994 is important for our county:

  • Using Resources Wisely: A lot of misdemeanor cases end up getting dismissed anyway. HB 1994 would make sure that the court’s time and resources are used in the best way possible.
  • Helping People Get Back on Track: Instead of just punishing people, HB 1994 focuses on helping them address the reasons behind their actions. This could mean getting them into programs for mental health, housing, or substance abuse support.
  • Making Our Community Safer: Research shows that just sending people to jail doesn’t always stop them from committing more crimes. HB 1994 aims to address the root causes of behavior, which can lead to safer communities in the long run.

Addressing Concerns and Ensuring Fairness:

HB 1994 has built-in protections to make sure it’s fair and balanced:

  • Serious offenses like assault or domestic violence aren’t eligible for dismissal.
  • People have to show that they’ve followed the court’s requirements before their case can be dismissed.
  • The whole process happens in open court, where both sides can have their say.

Join Us in Supporting HB 1994:

Your voice matters in shaping our local justice system. I encourage you to support HB 1994 and speak up for fairness, accountability, and smart use of resources in our courts.

Heal One Washington

In response to the urgent challenge that the fentanyl epidemic has created, I am proud to lead the Heal One Washington package. This initiative is crucial for our state as it addresses prevention, recovery, and aftercare in the fight against Fentanyl.

Our Legislative Efforts:

I want to update you on the progress of some key bills and provisions that I have championed to combat this crisis:

  • HB 1877: Revitalizing Washington’s Behavioral Health System: This bill, which has already passed in the House, is scheduled to be voted on in the Senate Committee on Law & Justice on February 20th. Watch my testimony on the House floor here!
  • HB 2305: Enhancing Cross-Jurisdictional Cooperation: The companion bill to this legislation has already passed in the Senate and is now under consideration in the House.
  • HB 2372: Supporting Comprehensive Behavioral Health Services: Passed in the House, this bill is slated for a hearing in the Senate Ways & Means Committee on February 20th. Watch my testimony on the House floor here!
  • HB 2075: Streamlining Licensing for Indian Health Care Providers: This bill, passed in the House, is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care TODAY! Watch my testimony on the House floor here!


Investing in Healing Facilities:

It’s imperative that we invest in facilities that can provide healing and support for our communities. Did you know that 80% of those being healed in Tribal centers are non-Tribal Washingtonians? We must ensure that facilities are adequately funded to support not only our tribal communities but also our nurses, bus drivers, grandparents, teachers, firefighters, union members, elected officials, homeless individuals, and farmworkers. By prioritizing these facilities, we are truly working to Heal One Washington.

Taking Action Together:

Families, children, coworkers, and friends – Fentanyl affects us all. But together, we can make a difference. I am committed to ensuring that no one fights this battle alone. In case you missed it, I’ve shared my personal story of recoveryin hopes that it makes those struggling feel a little less along. However, I cannot do this alone. I urge you to join me in this fight by reaching out to your legislators and sharing your story. Together, we can save lives.

Thank you so much for reading! Have a wonderful weekend.


Lekanoff sig

Rep. Debra Lekanoff