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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We have been on the virtual House floor, voting on bills, for the last two weeks, and hit House of Origin cutoff. The 216 bills that passed off the virtual House floor will now move to the Senate for consideration. Where any bill is not technically “dead” until the final gavel ends session, bills that did not make it through their house of origin will likely not see any further action.

While many bills that passed had bipartisan support, many others did not. You can learn about some of the policies that passed with long debates and strong House Republican opposition by watching the latest edition of the Barkis Breakdown. Click on the photo below to watch.

Senate Bill 5096 | Income tax on capital gains

  • This bill would create a new income tax on capital gains. This is the first big step toward a state income tax.
  • This is unnecessary. The Legislature can fund state priorities without raising taxes on anyone.
  • This is unpopular. Washingtonians have said repeatedly over the years they do not want any type of state income tax.
  • This is unconstitutional. This new tax would likely be challenged and struck down by the courts.
  • This bill narrowly passed the Senate with bipartisan opposition on a 25-24 vote. It has now been referred to the House Finance Committee.

House Bill 1091 | Low-carbon fuel standard mandate 

  • This bill would increase the cost of gas and diesel without generating any new revenue for transportation projects, it would be bad for businesses and our economy, and would offer little to no benefit to our overall air quality. 
  • This bill passed the House with bipartisan opposition on a 52-46 vote. It has now been referred to the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee.
  • You can watch my remarks on this policy by clicking here.
  • You can also watch highlights from our floor debate by clicking here.

House Bill 1076 | Qui Tam/Whistleblowers and worker protection

  • This bill would incentivize attorneys to seek out private citizens to sue the government so they could reap portions of the financial reward. A system such as this would be ripe for abuse, with no real safeguards to ensure there aren’t a surge of frivolous lawsuits.
  • This bill would be just one more thing employers have to worry about while they’re trying their best to simply stay in compliance with every changing employment law, rule, and proclamation from the governor.
  • This bill passed the House with bipartisan opposition on a vote of 53-44. It has now been referred to the Senate Labor, Commerce and Tribal Affairs Committee.
  • You can watch my remarks on this policy by clicking here.
  • You can also watch highlights from our floor debate by clicking here.

House Bill 1236 | Protecting residential tenants

  • This bill would essentially take away the rights of property owners to determine who they can rent to or when and why they can evict a tenant. This bill allows the government to dictate what property owners can and cannot do with their property.
  • This bill passed the House with bipartisan opposition on a 54-44 vote. It has now been referred to the Senate Housing and Local Government Committee.
  • You can watch my remarks on this policy by clicking here.
  • You can watch highlights from our floor debate by clicking here.

Open Safe, Open Now: The Republican Plan for Phase 3 and Beyond

It’s hard to believe the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic has been cast over us for one year. Washington state has lost 5,000 people to this virus. My thoughts and prayers remain with all the families who have lost a loved one. This disease has been hard on our state over the last year.

Over the past year, we’ve managed through the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” orders that shut our state completely down for months. We’ve watched small business after small business remained closed to this day, some of which will never reopen again. We’ve struggled with our children as they learn to navigate the challenges of remote and distance learning while their schools remained closed. Now, we are frustrated that Gov. Jay Inslee has not provided further guidance on advancing our state to the next phase. How can you try to plan for the future – whatever that may be – when it seems like we will be stuck in Phase 2 indefinitely?

I’m glad that every county in the state has finally advanced to Phase 2 of the governor’s “Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery” reopening plan. However, what’s next? The governor apparently has no idea. He shared his roadmap to reopen plan two months ago, yet he still hasn’t offered any kind of plan on what counties can do to advance to Phase 3 or beyond. He’s had a year to figure this out but there’s still no clear picture if he plans to ever reopen our state.

I’ve received countless emails for you asking what are Republicans doing about this? Can we offer something to stoke the fire and get our state back on track? When are kids going to be allowed to go back to school? When will life return to normal? I have an answer to those questions. Republicans have promised you since the first day of session that we would offer real solutions to the problems facing our district and state.

Republicans recently introduced our Open Safe, Open Now: The Republican plan for Phase 3 and beyond.

This is a simple, practical, and consistent plan that respects local control and trusts the people of Washington state to do the right thing. This plan abandons the governor’s failed regional approach, which hasn’t been effective since day one and has created disparities.

This plan is not about returning to how things were in February 2020. People should still wear a mask, get vaccinated, wash their hands, and socially distance to the extent possible. I remain confident individuals, families, schools, businesses, and churches will continue to take the proper precautions to help in reopening our state safely. Everyone has definitely proved we can do this over the course of the last year.

It is beyond time:

  • For the Legislature to lead and make policy decisions.  
  • To get students back to school, sports, and activities. 
  • To get people back to work.
  • To help those in crisis, including students, families, and businesses.
  • To end the isolation of our children and seniors.
  • To understand the larger context of public health – including mental health.
  • To trust Washingtonians with their health and safety.

Under this plan, the state would immediately move to Phase 3 which would allow all students in grades K-12 return to the classroom and school districts would be expected to implement safety protocols provided by the CDC. It would also allow hospitality businesses, indoor weddings, indoor religious services, and professional services to move to 50% capacity. This would help people get back to work. After a county has operated under Phase 3 for three weeks, and if there was no significant spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations, it could move to Phase 4 and reopening 100%. You can find more details here.

In a recent press conference given by the governor, he called our plan nothing more than a message point. I’m here to tell you that’s not what this is. House Bill 1553 would officially implement this plan.

We have also offered real these solutions to back up this plan.

The first is the relief package we introduced at the beginning of session. The Real Recovery for Washington Act is a comprehensive $4 billion economic recovery package. It would provide immediate financial support to struggling families and businesses, accelerate the safe reopening of schools, and expand COVID testing and vaccine administration.

The second is the House Republican 2021-23 operating budget proposal framework which prioritizes all Washingtonians without raising taxes on anyone or anything. 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.

Mark your calendars | Virtual town hall event

Where I would rather hold this event in-person and in-district, my seatmate House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox and I will be hosting a virtual town hall on Monday, March 22 at 6:00 p.m. and would like to invite everyone to attend.

You do need to register to participate in the event. You can do so by clicking here. If you’d like to submit a question before the event, there is a place to submit it on the registration form.

If you have any questions, or need help registering, please contact my legislative assistant, Kaden Sanne. He’s happy to assist you.

Stay connected!

I know one of the many challenges of the remote session is your participation and involvement in the legislative process, including how to access 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
427A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7824 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000