Governor signs two of Rep. Barkis’ bills into law

The power of constituency is a key component to the Legislative process in Olympia. Second District Rep. Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia, recently saw how beneficial his constituents' voices can be through two pieces of legislation recently signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee.

People with disabilities face many uphill battles in their daily lives. Legislation authored by Barkis recognizes certain challenges and creates opportunities for disabled persons who want to participate in wildlife-related recreation throughout Washington state. House Bill 2649 will make a technical change to existing policy by enhancing the fish, shellfish, and wildlife-related recreational opportunities for a person with a disability. The bill will broaden the signature authority for certifying a disability designation. This would bring the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's (WDFW) practices in line with the regulations set under the American with Disabilities Act.

“This bill shows the power of our constituency, and that by working hand-in-hand on the policies that have the largest impact, great solutions happen,” said Barkis. “A woman from the Nisqually River area asked me if there was any 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 fish, shellfish, and wildlife-related recreation across our state. Without her input, and willingness to come forward and ask for something to be done, this bill never would've crossed the finish line.”

Peer support is a vital component in maintaining health and wellness in any law enforcement agency. A bill sponsored by Barkis now extends the peer counselor support to limited authority law enforcement officers. House Bill 2611 will establish a testimonial privilege on communications made between a limited authority law enforcement officer and a peer support group counselor, when receiving counseling because of an incident the officer was involved in while acting in their official capacity. This bill will administer the same standards and conditions that apply to the privilege for communications by law enforcement officers, or firefighters, to limited authority officers.

“Our limited authority law enforcement officers, such as someone working for the Department of Corrections or the Department of Natural Resources, often deal with traumatic situations as part of their job. They deserve to work in an environment that focuses on prevention and intervention for the hard and emotional aspects of their job,” said Barkis. “Any of these traumatic experiences can have lasting effects on these officers. It's important they can talk to and engage with a peer support counselor if they need one.”

Both House Bill 2649 and House Bill 2611 will go into effect later this year.


Washington State House Republican Communications