Rep. Andrew Barkis’ bill to enhance recreational opportunities for the disabled gains House approval

Legislation recognizing certain challenges and creating opportunities for disabled persons who want to participate in wildlife-related recreation gained approval by vote of 97-0, in the state House of Representatives on Thursday.

House Bill 2649, authored by 2nd District Rep. Andrew Barkis, would make a technical change to existing policy by enhancing the fish, shellfish, and wildlife-related recreational opportunities for persons with disabilities. The director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) would be authorized to grant a disability designation to a person who meets certain eligibility criteria established by the Fish and Wildlife Commission. An individual granted this disability designation would be eligible for reasonable accommodations to participate in these recreational activities.

“In our daily lives under the dome here in Olympia, we meet so many people who bring good ideas and solutions to our table that we haven't thought of before. These solutions often times become the foundation of the policies we write,” said Barkis, R-Olympia. “I had a woman from the Nisqually River area come visit me and asked if there was a way to close the loophole of the definition of a disabled person under WDFW's current form to obtain a reduced-fee hunting and fishing license. She said making this small change will help so many people enjoy the wildlife-related recreation across our state. She presented her idea, the bill was drafted, and now we have a solution. This bill is a great example of the power of our constituents.”

Barkis' bill would broaden the signature authority for certifying a disability designation. This would bring the WDFW's practices in line with the regulations set under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

House Bill 2649 now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov