District Update: A Closer Look at How State Dollars are Spent in Whatcom County  

Dear friends and neighbors, 

I’ve been back home for a couple of weeks now, and it’s been so nice seeing so many of you out and about. Throughout the legislative session, I kept you up to date on the legislation I was working on and supporting.  

In addition to introducing legislation, however, many of my budget requests were incorporated into our state’s operating and capital budgets. Read on to learn how these state dollars will be used for vital projects right here in our communities.  

How State Dollars are Used in Our Communities 

The following is a snapshot of my budget requests that made it into state budgets: 

  • Whatcom County 23-Hour Relief Center: $23.5 million. These monies support this vital program that reduces the need for incarceration including behavioral health services, permanent supportive housing, re-entry services, and more flexible use of Medicaid dollars. The Whatcom County 23-Hour Relief Center is so important to reduce poverty, improve public safety, create a healthier community, and build an economy that works for everyone. 
  • Department of Children, Youth, & Families (DCYF) Home Visiting: $1.6 million. This money will be used to establish a pilot program to provide contracted home visiting slots to families involved in child welfare.  
  • 211 Washington: $1 million. 211 connects callers, at no cost, to critical health and human services in their community. This money will fund 53 staff to stabilize our 211 system and restore operating hours to 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday-Friday. 
  • Imagination Library: $500,000. This is Dolly Parton’s book gifting program that mails free books to children from birth until they begin school. 

  • The Health Center at Options High School: $300,000. This Bellingham high school caters to kids who tend to get lost in the shuffle and then face struggles. It’s a great option for those who benefit from smaller class sizes and more community-based and hands-on learning. These dollars will be used to help support a new health center at the school. 
  • Family Shelter Initiative: $250,000. These funds will enable the county to increase the number of families it can support to those currently experiencing homelessness. At the beginning of this session, I heard from multiple constituents and stakeholders how our communities have more than 600 families with kids living in their cars. I saw this as a particularly urgent need to get this place more funding to help more people. 
  • Ferndale Community Services: $200,000. This program supports the Family Resource Center model in Ferndale and northern Whatcom County. 
  • California Creek Estuary Park Expansion in Blaine: $185,000. These dollars will expand access to the outdoors for all of us. I’ve been a firm believer in supporting the great outdoors for both physical and mental health during my entire time in the legislature. 
  • Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services of Whatcom County Douglas Building HVAC Replacement: $110,000. All things age and this money will help keep this building in tip-top shape for years to come in order to provide valuable services to those experiencing domestic violence or sexual assault and needing support and access to vital services. 
  • Day Camp Mental Health Services for the Blaine-Birch Bay Parks and Recreation Department: $50,000. This money makes it possible for the department to hire a youth mental health counselor for their outdoor youth and recreation program. 

Additionally, I am thrilled that the Whatcom County Skills Center is the recipient of $2.1 million! My seatmate, Rep. Joe Timmons, and I worked together to get this critical funding across the finish line. 

A Bill of Mine Becomes Law! 

I’m also happy to report that House Bill 1978, legislation meant to help in the aftermath of a natural disaster, has been signed into law by the governor. It is effective on June 6. 

All of us certainly remember the enormous toll we faced in the aftermath of the fall 2021 floods in the Nooksack River Valley. While I witnessed folks rallying together and helping each other out, there was still significant damage to roads, loss of life, and too many families and businesses were uprooted. 

That’s why I introduced HB 1978, which is designed to help in times of crisis. This piece of legislation will make it easier for our helpers to work together in a natural disaster, both in planning and when the actual disaster occurs. It supports collaborative planning efforts for the next emergency and puts an end to bureaucratic red tape.   

How to Stay in Contact 

Now that the 2024 legislative session is over, the best way to stay connected to me and my work is to reach out to my office directly. I am always happy to hear from you and take your questions, concerns, or comments. I look forward to staying in touch. 

Best wishes, 

Alicia Rule