Legislative Update: Investing in Whatcom County, Bringing People Together Through Sports & More

Dear friends and neighbors,

With only two weeks to go until Legislative Session ends, I remain committed to fighting every single day to improve public safety and protecting our most vulnerable. Last fall, I promised you that I would work hard on laws that would combine the important work of law enforcement and mental health professionals. I will continue to fight every day for you to see a change in our state’s vehicle pursuits law and a change to the Blake decision, as well as laws to support behavioral health.

Investing in Whatcom County

Courtesy of North Cascades Institute

There are so many good things coming to Whatcom County because of the House’s operating budget and capital budget that I’m thrilled to tell you about! For a full list of how Whatcom County is benefitting from our work in Olympia, I encourage you to review the operating, capital and transportation budgets on fiscal.gov.wa. While I can’t cover everything with you today, here are a few projects that that I’m especially excited about from our operating budget that has already passed through both chambers of the Legislature that will receive funding once the Governor signs it into law:

  • Master of Social Work (MSW) Program: As a lifelong social worker, I’m super excited about this one! Western Washington University’s MSW program will complement the proposed sociology undergraduate program and will address the critical regional and state need for more trained behavioral health professionals. WWU is prepared to funds to offer this degree program that will work to ensure students are well-equipped for employment in public, private and nonprofit sectors in behavioral and mental health, healthcare, long-term and palliative care, housing, child welfare, criminal justice, and veterans’ services.
  • Northwest Maritime Apprenticeship: Whatcom County is steeped in maritime history. Blaine was built as a fishing town and families have been involved in the industry for generations. As a future investment, it’s important to continue this heritage and give our young people an opportunity to thrive in the good paying jobs of the fishing industry. A Blaine nonprofit centered on working waterfronts is on track to receive funds this biennium to contract with a Bellingham Technical College that focuses on working waterfronts to build on start-up efforts, provide a solid foundation, and grow the Northwest Maritime Apprenticeship program. Marine trade apprenticeships make sense because they allow the current workforce to train the next generation, increase job opportunities, support our local communities, and celebrate and maintain our heritage while continuing to provide healthy food locally and for trade.
  • Point Roberts Exclave Community Relief Program: Point Roberts was the hardest hit Washington city in the pandemic. As our state’s only exclave, it was completely cut off from the rest of Washington, as well as Canada. To help this city recover from the pandemic, it has been recommended to provide funds to the Exclave Community Relief Program.
  • Connections and Snow and Ski: The 8,400 students in the Blaine, Mt. Baker, and the Nooksack Valley school districts will be the recipients of funds to learn winter sports, taught by The North Cascades Institute. I’m really happy to see this as it’s in line with HB 2078, my bill to expand outdoor school programs, that became law almost a year ago. Studies show that time spent outdoors is good not just for our kiddos’ physical health, but for their mental health, too.
  • Long Term Recovery: None of us can forget the devastating floods that ripped through the Nooksack River basin in November 2021. Money to support disaster relief and recovery efforts in the operating budget to help those in our communities who are still dealing with the aftermath of the atmospheric river that took out much of our infrastructure, homes, businesses, and more.

Bringing People Together Through Sports

Are you a sports fan? I know I sure am! My sons and I took part in an opening day game for the Mariners at T-Mobile Park last week. But I also enjoy going to local sporting events too. That’s why I’m happy to share with you that our state’s capital budget has plans in the works to support the deWilde Rugby & Polo Fields in Ferndale and I fought to support investments in the Joe Martin Field for the Bellingham Bells.

Sporting events bring people together, which is so important in rebuilding our community mental health after so many years in isolation during the pandemic. It’s time to bring people together again and experience being part of a team and a community! Investing in our local sporting venues is also investing in our local economies.

Last week, I took part in a bipartisan planning meeting with other members of the Innovation, Community & Economic Development & Veterans Committee to start planning for #FIFAWorldCup2026!

Washington has been chosen (along with cities in Canada and Mexico) to host the games and what excites me the most is what an incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this is! The last time the U.S. hosted the World Cup was in 1994 and soccer has grown exponentially in its popularity here in America!

People across our state will be having viewing parties and the summer of ’26—when the games take place—will be such a fun time! Sporting events have a special ability to bring people together, and this event will certainly make memories for a lifetime! For all the little (and big) soccer players throughout the state, I hope this event inspires them to get outside, commit to teamwork, play hard, and stay healthy!

State Legislators Call for a Strong National Nature Assessment

In February, I let you know that I had been selected as Washington’s state lead for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. And last week, I joined more than 120 state legislators nationwide to sign a comment letter to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy about the National Nature Assessment. We have a responsibility to protect and preserve our natural resources for future generations.

Click here to read a press release to learn more. To see the letter I signed, click here.

Best wishes,