Washington State House Democrats


Governor Signs Rep. Leavitt’s Workforce Development Bill Package

OLYMPIA – Economic resiliency and shared prosperity for Washingtonians hinges on effective workforce development. It requires addressing key workforce shortages, meeting future demand for jobs, and expanding access to education in highly skilled industries. 

To meet this challenge, Rep. Mari Leavitt, D-University Place, has made workforce development a priority during the 2023 legislative session. Four bills in particular have helped expand the workforce pipeline, streamline licensing and certification, and make educational programs appealing and accessible to all segments of the population – especially overburdened communities: 

  • House Bill 1001 streamlines interstate certification of speech therapists & audiologists for continuity of care from providers. Compact participation alleviates the time-consuming licensure process and provides a multistate license option for practitioners moving to Washington. Both chambers passed the bill unanimously, and Governor Inslee signed the bill into law on April 13.
  • House Bill 1009 will help military families frequently moving across the nation who experience difficulty transferring professional licensing credentials and employment. Under the bill, state agencies will remove barriers for military spouses who would like to pursue new opportunities in Washington and establish opportunities not currently in practice. The House and Senate passed the bill unanimously. It was signed into law by the Governor on April 25. 
  • House Bill 1030 allows regional universities to offer applied doctoral degrees to train the highly skilled workforce of tomorrow. This bill is important for place-bound students who need to advance in their fields. Not offering applied doctorates means students and workers are forced to leave their families and face significant financial hardships to obtain a desired credential. The House passed the bill unanimously on January 26th, while the Senate passed it on April 6th with near unanimous support. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 20. 
  • House Bill 1069 allows behavioral health counselors to practice across state lines to increase workforce supply and meet needs of traveling personnel such as military families. Compacts remain a high standard to ensure the quality of candidates while allowing them to practice across state lines and preserve state licensing systems. This legislation, passed unanimously, is an efficient option to respond quickly to workforce shortages now and help reach communities facing behavioral health crisis. The Governor signed this bill into law April 13. 

With the passage of these four bills, Washingtonians can look forward to increased access to health care and behavioral health professionals, post-secondary degrees at regional universities, and better flexibility for military spouses. Most importantly, Washington’s economy can move one step closer to being one of the strongest and most resilient in the nation with a prosperous workforce pushing it forward. 

“When I visit my neighbors and travel across my district, I hear from military spouses and people who can’t find a single healthcare professional taking new clients or accepting appointments,” said Rep. Leavitt. “When you’re in need of a nurse, a behavioral health care specialist, or an audiologist, time isn’t a luxury you have.” 

Rep. Leavitt added, “The same applies for military spouses who face financial hardship because their station was transferred to bases like JBLM. When Washington won’t accept their license or credential, where do they turn? I think the bills we’ve passed this session, with strong bi-partisan support, are going to make a real difference for these families and help our economy rebound even stronger than before.”  

The legislative session concluded on April 23. These bills signed by the Governor take effect on July 23, 2023.