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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It has been extremely busy under the “virtual” dome here in Olympia. The challenges of this remote session continue to grow more frustrating as the days roll along. We are meant to do the people's work in the people's house. I still firmly believe we can follow all the pandemic health and safety protocol and return to the Capitol.

On Monday, Feb. 15, we hit our first major deadline of the 2021 session – policy cutoff. The policies that were introduced without a fiscal impact had to pass out of the committee of their house of origin.  

Speaking of policy, I had a great conversation on KELA Radio this week talking about the policies I'm working on to assist the homeless population re-integrate back into society, my support for those struggling with addition without creating a further dependence on drugs, and my housing bills to balance support for tenants and landlords. You can listen to my interview by clicking on the graphic below.

Up next: Starting Tuesday, Feb. 23, we will head to the “virtual” House floor to vote on the bills that passed out of committee and were not causalities of policy cutoff. In my next newsletter, I will give a status update on my bills. I will also highlight the good and bad bills that moved off the House floor and will continue their journey through the legislative process.

But first, House Republicans have made a promise to bring real solutions to the people of Washington state. We are keeping that promise.

Earlier this week, House Republicans rolled out our 2021-23 operating budget proposal framework. Through the leadership of our ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Drew Stokesbary, our budget prioritizes all Washingtonians, without raising taxes.

Here are some key highlights representing our real solutions.

How does this budget create opportunities for working families?

  • It funds the Working Families Tax Credit for the first time in its 12-year history.
  • It creates a sales tax exemption for basic necessities, like prepared food and diapers.
  • It provides $300 stipends to low-income families to defray the costs associated with remote learning.
  • It provides grants and higher rates for childcare providers and copay assistance for families.

How does this budget help students thrive?

  • It increases federal allocations to school districts, contingent on reopening.
  • It provides equitable enrichment funding for charter and tribal schools.
  • It provides additional STEM enrollment slots at state universities and community colleges.

How does this budget help small businesses recover?

  • It replenishes the unemployment insurance (UI) fund to replace fraud losses and mitigates skyrocketing UI taxes.
  • It provides temporary B&O tax relief for restaurants and other hard-hit businesses.
  • It boosts funding for the state's tourism marketing campaign.
  • It authorizes B&O, property tax and liquor fee deferrals for small businesses.

How does this budget help all Washingtonians?

  • It provides additional funds for foundational public health without taxing health insurance.
  • It funds the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) forest health plan, reducing wildfires and pollution.
  • It maximizes production at state and tribal hatcheries to support fish populations.

This proposal represents savings, efficiencies, and rational decision-making. It includes reducing unnecessary bureaucracy, fixing inefficient structures, eliminating programs that aren't working, and replacing bad policies with better ones.

For all the detailed information on this proposal, you can visit the Washington State Fiscal Information website, or the House Republican website.

I encourage you to share this proposal with your family and friends. This was brought forward this early for a reason. We want to give you the chance to review it and provide your feedback. There's still a long road ahead as the budget-writing process begins. Your input and voice matter! Please contact my office at any time with your thoughts, concerns, or ideas.

Stay connected

I know one of the many challenges of the remote session is your participation and involvement in the legislative process when the Capitol remains closed. This includes accessing the Legislature remotely.

By visiting my website, you will see a link at the top of my homepage that makes it easy for you to access all the resources you need to stay involved remotely. You can also click on the graphic below.

You can also bookmark the following links to stay engaged and informed. These are good resources to keep you up to date about your state government.

Please contact my Legislative Assistant, Kaden Sanne, for anything else you need. He is ready to work with all of you, and is ready to take your calls, or emails. Please reach out to him, and my office, as you normally would. Our contact information is at the bottom of this email.

In Service,

Andrew Barkis

State Representative Andrew Barkis, 2nd Legislative District
122D Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 584-9846 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000