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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

In my last email update, I mentioned three of the six initiatives Washingtonians sent to the Legislature this year were likely to receive legislative approval before we adjourned on March 7:

Despite opposition from some members of the majority party, Initiatives 2111, 2081, and 2113 garnered enough support in both the House and Senate to pass. They will become law on June 6.

I want to again thank each one of you who played a role in advocating for these initiatives. Your dedication and engagement resulted in three big victories for common sense this session.

For those of you wondering about the fate of the other three initiatives that were not considered this session, please know they will be on the November ballot and voters will decide if they pass or not.

Barkis Breakdown: A review of the 2024 session and the ongoing Republican effort to fix Washington

In my latest Barkis Breakdown video, which I recorded last week, I provide an overview of the 2024 legislative session and touch on a wide range of topics, including:

  • Ongoing challenges in Washington state
  • Working to address public safety, housing, and transportation issues
  • Preventing detrimental policies like rent control
  • Bipartisan successes in housing policy
  • Three of six citizens’ initiatives becoming law
  • Budgetary challenges and cost overruns in transportation projects
  • The importance of infrastructure maintenance and preservation
  • Solutions for transportation funding without raising taxes
  • The groundbreaking for the new Bethel High School, opening in 2026

It’s a lengthy video, but I hope you’ll give it a watch to understand some of the dynamics of this year’s session and the ongoing Republican effort to fix Washington.

House Bill 1989 signed into law

A bill I sponsored this year aimed at tackling the rampant spread of graffiti vandalism across Washington has been signed into law by Governor Inslee. House Bill 1989 will establish a pilot program designed to test innovative technologies and techniques to hold perpetrators accountable and quickly clean up graffiti.

The program, to be overseen by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), includes:

  • Field testing of state-of-the-art spray drone technology to cover up existing graffiti, ensuring prompt restoration of affected areas.
  • Utilization of WSDOT-owned cameras to deter and identify perpetrators. Tolling and work safety zone enforcement cameras will not be utilized.
  • Prioritization of the Interstate 5 Puget Sound region from Tacoma to Seattle and the north Spokane corridor for the deployment of innovative graffiti prevention techniques.

The bill requires WSDOT to submit a report to the Legislature by December 1, 2024, detailing the program’s progress, including funding allocation, the effectiveness of identification methods, and the results of spray drone testing. The pilot program will conclude on July 1, 2025.

I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from Washingtonians who are excited to see lawmakers doing something to stop the explosion of graffiti in our state. There is much more to do in this space, but House Bill 1989 sends a clear message that enough is enough. We cannot continue allowing the actions of a few to shape the narrative of our communities.

Media coverage of House Bill 1989, which will go into effect June 6, has been extensive:

My thoughts on the 2024 supplemental transportation budget

On the final day of this year’s 60-day session, the Legislature unanimously approved the 2024 supplemental transportation budget. The budget will provide an additional $1.1 billion on top of the $13.5 billion the 2023-25 transportation budget allocated last year, for a total of $14.6 billion. Priorities include recruiting and retaining Washington State Patrol troopers, increasing highway safety, preventing and removing graffiti vandalism, additional maintenance and preservation investments, and more.

As the ranking minority member on the House Transportation Committee, I also serve as the lead negotiator for the House Republican Caucus when it comes to the transportation budget. I issued the following statement upon its passage in both chambers:

“Transportation infrastructure serves as the backbone of economic prosperity in Washington state, facilitating connectivity, accessibility, and trade across various modes, including rail, air, highways, ports, and shipping. Investment in transportation infrastructure is essential for sustaining economic vitality and ensuring the prosperity of communities across the state.

“Despite funding constraints, project delivery complexities, and cost overruns, this bipartisan budget maintains funding levels for approved projects and reflects a commitment to finding solutions and efficiencies through careful budgeting and resource allocation. I applaud negotiators for demonstrating a commitment to fiscal responsibility and adaptability in the face of such challenges. This approach will ensure the continuity of essential infrastructure projects vital for the state’s development and economic growth.

“The budget takes a multifaceted approach aimed at improving public safety and maintaining the integrity of Washington’s transportation infrastructure. One critical aspect of this strategy involves recruiting and retaining Washington State Patrol troopers. The State Patrol plays a pivotal role in ensuring road safety by enforcing traffic laws, responding to emergencies, and providing assistance to motorists. By prioritizing resources for recruitment and retention efforts, we aim to bolster the ranks of these dedicated professionals, thereby strengthening the State Patrol’s capacity to do its job effectively and keep Washingtonians safe.

“The budget also allocates resources towards increasing highway safety measures. The sharp rise in traffic deaths we’ve seen in recent years is not just a statistical trend, but represents lives lost and families shattered. Each fatality on the roads is a tragic event with far-reaching consequences. It is imperative we implement strategies that mitigate risks and prevent accidents on Washington’s roadways.

“Furthermore, the budget emphasizes the importance of combating graffiti vandalism throughout the state. Graffiti not only detracts from the aesthetic appeal of public spaces, but also contributes to a sense of disorder and neglect in communities. Preserving the visual integrity of our transportation infrastructure and enhancing the overall quality of life for our residents is an important priority.

“Lastly, the budget includes additional investments in maintenance and preservation initiatives aimed at prolonging the lifespan of critical transportation assets. By dedicating funding towards routine maintenance activities, such as road resurfacing, bridge repairs, and drainage improvements, the state can prevent minor issues from escalating into costly and disruptive problems. Moreover, investing in preservation measures ensures that transportation infrastructure remains safe, reliable, and functional for years to come, thereby safeguarding the state’s economic prosperity and quality of life for future generations.

“Overall, the supplemental transportation budget represents a balanced and forward-thinking approach to addressing Washington’s transportation needs. It furthers the work we’ve been doing to improve and grow the state’s transportation infrastructure, which is vital for Washington’s overall development and prosperity. I want to thank everyone involved for their earnest and thoughtful work in negotiating the final product.”

If you’d like more information about the transportation budget, or if you have any comments or questions about it, feel free to send me an email.

Staying in touch

Although session is over, please know I’m here to serve you year-round. I encourage you to continue reaching out to me with your comments, questions and concerns. My email address is Andrew.Barkis@leg.wa.gov and my office number is (360) 786-7824.

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