Walen bill expanding professional license eligibility heads to the Governor

OLYMPIA – Washington state has incredibly diverse communities across the state. However, for those without documentation status, there are barriers preventing individuals from obtaining professional licenses to work. 

Rep. Amy Walen, D-Kirkland, is hoping to change that. 

“If someone can pass rigorous standards we have in the state of Washington and show that they are competent to deliver services, why does the state need to know about their federal documentation status?” Rep. Walen asked. 

House Bill 1889 will provide eligibility for certain professional and commercial licenses for various professions for persons not lawfully present in the United States. 

Rep. Walen delved into personal experience relating to the bill.  When Walen was a child, she and her mother moved to Australia. But when she returned to the U.S. in her 20s, she couldn’t practice law even though she was an American citizen.  

Despite obtaining a law degree and practicing, the fact that Walen obtained the law degree outside of the country created a barrier that she had to combat. She was able to overcome this barrier due to her citizenship status, but many professionals in other fields are unable to move forward with their careers because of immigration status. 

“We are having trouble filling occupations that are crucial to Washington consumers,” Walen said. “Every person is essential, and every person’s contribution is essential.” 

The bill passed out of the Senate with a vote of 41 to 8 and now gets sent to the governor for his signature before it becomes law.