Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope this email finds you well and you’re enjoying the arrival of spring! The daffodils and cherry blossom trees are in full bloom around the Capitol campus.
Do you know the legend of the so-called “Sine Die” magnolia tree on the side of the Capitol building? Once this tree fully blooms, it’s time for the legislature to adjourn. The 2023 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on Sunday, April 23. We’ll see if legend holds, and we adjourn as this tree blooms.
Before I dive into details on the state’s 2023-2025 operating and transportation budgets, please watch the latest edition of the Barkis Breakdown.
In this video update, I provide a “breakdown” of where some key policies stand as the end of the 2023 session approaches. I talk about public safety and two bills still in play: vehicular pursuits and the Blake fix (drug possession). I also provide an update on several housing policies: one bill that died (my lot splitting bill) and two policies still moving through the process (ADUs and middle housing). I also provide a budget update. You can watch by clicking here or on the photo below.
Housing policy update
As mentioned in the Barkis Breakdown, two bipartisan policies I have been working on for several sessions will soon receive Gov. Inslee’s signature and be signed into law.
House Bill 1110 – Increasing middle housing in areas traditionally dedicated to single-family detached housing.
For more information on my work on this policy:
- My floor speech in support of this policy | YouTube
- TVW’s Inside Olympia | Video
- Interview with John Carlson on KVI | Radio
- TVW’s The Impact | Video
- Interview with Ari Hoffman on KVI | Radio
- WA’s housing crisis requires bold reform. This bill would be transformative | Op-Ed
- Reps. Andrew Barkis and Jessica Bateman unite behind middle housing legislation | Press release
House Bill 1337 – Expanding housing options by easing barriers to the construction and use of accessory dwelling units.
Police vehicular pursuits
I voted against Senate Bill 5352, and here’s why.
I don’t think this bill goes far enough. Under the bill, police pursuits would be allowed for those suspected of committing a violent offense, a sex offense, domestic violence-related offenses, driving under the influence, and trying to escape arrest.
Our law enforcement agencies, communities, businesses, and local governments asked us to fix this flawed law and bring back the full standard of reasonable suspicion to vehicular pursuits.
The bill passed the House chamber with a vote of 57-40.
I believe we’ll be back next session trying to fix the missed opportunities this bill failed to address.
State biennial budgets
2023-2025 Transportation budget
As the ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, I’m proud of our bipartisan biennial budget. The budget passed with a vote of 96-1, with one excused. You can watch my floor remarks by clicking here or on the photo below.
This proposal would spend $13.2 billion towards:
- $9.8 billion for the Washington State Department of Transportation.
- $1.2 billion for the Washington State Ferries.
- $646 million for the Washington State Patrol.
- $418 million for the Department of Licensing.
For the full budget and supporting documentation, click here.
As one of the budget writers, we now head back into negotiations to finalize the budget proposal. It will come before the House one final time before heading to Governor Inslee’s desk.
2023-2025 Operating budget
Despite ongoing economic concerns, the good news is state tax collections remain strong, and budget writers have $2.7 billion more in revenue for 2023-25 compared to what was assumed in last year’s budget.
This budget would increase state spending to $70 billion, a $6 billion increase over current spending levels. This continues the majority party’s trend of historic budget growth. It adds nearly 1,500 new policy-line items and leaves a small ending fund balance. Our state treasurer recommends at least 10% in our rainy-day fund (Budget Stabilization Account). This budget only leaves around 6%.
And, with continuing inflation, this budget provides no tax relief to taxpayers.
I ultimately could not support this budget. It passed on a party-line vote of 57-40, with one excused.
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.