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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope this email finds you well! We have reached what is known as policy cutoff. On Thursday, Feb. 3, we reached what is known as policy cutoff. Any House bill introduced had to move forward out of committee or receive no further action this session. This cutoff does not include bills that could have a fiscal impact on one of the three state budgets.

As the ranking member on the House Transportation Committee, I have committee hearings planned for several more days to learn about, listen to, and discuss bills from other committees that would have a fiscal impact on the transportation budget. Fiscal policy cutoff is Monday, Feb. 7.

Next Tuesday, we will begin several consecutive days, and a few potential late nights, debating and passing bills on the virtual House floor.

Most of you are familiar with how a bill becomes a law. Please click here for anyone who would like to learn more about the process.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has engaged and participated in the process thus far, whether meeting with me, emailing me your thoughts and concerns, or testifying in committee. Your voice and opinion are a vital part of the legislative process.

Status update: Addressing our affordable housing crisis

It is almost my six-year anniversary as your state representative. Housing has been a passion and priority of mine since day one.

Our state continues to experience a housing crisis, including our response to the problem. Supply is down, rent is skyrocketing, homeownership is unattainable for many first-time homebuyers, and homelessness continues to grow.

I consistently introduce good policies and work with my colleagues across the aisle to identify the root causes of our affordable housing problem. We need to offer real solutions that address the supply issue, cost increases, and regulatory burdens to be successful.

You can learn more about the bills I have sponsored, and co-sponsored, this session in my attempts to address our affordable housing crisis and supply shortage in the latest edition of the Barkis Breakdown. You can watch by clicking here, or simply click on the photo below. Please continue reading this update for more details.

The supply issue

I introduced House Bill 1232, which would plan for affordable housing under the Growth Management Act. This would be a positive step forward in addressing our lack of supply. In the House, members from both sides of the aisle approved this bill two sessions in a row. I was hoping it would see the finish line in 2022. Instead, the House Local Government Committee chose not to advance my bill out of committee.

I co-sponsored House Bill 1782, which would create additional middle housing near transit and in areas traditionally dedicated to single-family detached homes. In the House Local Government Committee, the original bill I supported was heavily amended before it was passed out of committee. Due to its fiscal impacts on the state’s operating budget, the House Appropriations Committee will discuss this bill on Saturday, Feb. 5. If this bill moves forward to the House floor, there is work to be done to bring it back to where I can support it.

Cost increases

I introduced House Bill 2049, which would encourage the construction of affordable housing by eliminating redundancies and streamlining the permitting process. My bill had bipartisan support. Unfortunately, the House Local Government Committee did not support my bill, and it will not advance this session.

Regulatory burdens

I introduced House Bill 2066, which would require cities and counties planning under the Growth Management Act to establish a categorical exemption from the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) requirements related to infill development. The original intent of my bill was amended in the House Environment and Energy Committee before it moved forward. Next week, there is work to be done when the bill is hopefully brought to the House chamber for full consideration.

A common theme I have noticed this session: good policy is not making it through the process. Our housing crisis is only getting worse. We cannot remain divided on this issue if we want to solve the problem.

Status update: Restoring balance and trust in state government

Washington state is one of only four states in the nation that hands over unilateral authority to the governor to declare and maintain a state of emergency. During a prolonged state of emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislative branch – which represents the people’s voice – has a minimal role in determining the policies set forth by the executive branch.

We have been under the executive branch’s control – and more specifically, the governor’s control – for more than 700 days. House Republicans have pushed for emergency powers reform since 2020. We have presented several real solutions to restore the legislative voice into the decision-making process.

In the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee this week, Rep. Chris Corry of Yakima testified on his solution – House Bill 1772.

His legislation would allow the governor to act quickly during an emergency but limit that extraordinary executive authority to 60 days. If more time is needed, the Legislature could add on another 60 days, or more, as needed. House Bill 1772 would restore balance and trust in state government.

Many of you agree with the intent of this bill. Over 5,200 people signed in to support or testify in favor during the committee hearing — your voice and opinion matter. Please continue to stay active and involved in the legislative process.

Please visit this website for more information on this bill and all the Republican efforts to limit the governor’s emergency powers authority.

Resources and important links

I hope you will bookmark and save the links below.

As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas regarding your state government or any of the topics and issues mentioned in this update, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

It is an honor to serve you.

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