June 26, 2023
This Issues Topics:
2023 • Business Connections • Peter Abbarno

Every legislative session there are a handful of bills that monopolize the headlines throughout the state. For many parents with children in school, workers seeking opportunities, and employers wanting to expand and improve their businesses, workforce development is on the top of their list of issues. Whether directly related to your business, or not, workforce development in critical areas is essential to the success of a community. 

What about all the legislation that impacts workforce development? 

Bipartisan House Bill 1013 directs the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the educational service districts (ESDs) to establish the Regional Apprenticeship Preparation Pilot Program. The stated purpose of the program is to identify common best practices and processes for establishing regional apprenticeship preparation programs that support postsecondary success for students and strengthen community engagement in schools and school districts.

Senate Bill 5499, which recognizes the critical shortage of nurses in the State of Washington and makes it easier for nurses licensed in other states to get licensed in Washington. This bill enacts the Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact in order to reduce bureaucratic barriers and more efficiently license nurses from other states.

Senate Bill 5582 reduces the barriers and expands educational opportunities to increase the supply of nurses in Washington by allowing nursing directors with a graduate degree to run Bachelor of Science Nursing programs and allowing for one hour of high-quality simulation to count as two hours of clinical site placement.

House Bill 1724 reduces requirements for licensure or certification for certain behavioral health professionals. Washingtonians, especially in rural communities, are struggling for access to behavioral health services. This new law helps address pre-graduation experience, training, and credentialling. 

Senate Bill 5499 eliminates College in the High School fees and meets students where they are in the high school for more accessible dual credit opportunities. 

House Bill 1694 addresses the home care workforce shortages by expanding timelines for long-term care workers seeking certification as a home care aide, increasing the list of family members who are exempt from having to become home care aides and reduces the training requirements for these caregivers, and exempts certain home care aides and nursing assistants whose licensing credentials have expired from paying late fees or renewal fees.

In addition to policy changes, the Legislature passed budgets that directly invest in workforce development. On the House Capital Budget Committee, where I serve as the Ranking Republican member, we crafted a capital budget that includes: 

Over $600 million in investments for school construction assistance, modernization grants, school seismic safety grants, and financial assistance to help create a safe environment for our students that is conducive to successful learning;

Over $400 million for maintenance and construction projects within our community and technical college system; and 

Over $70 million for early learning facilities to help create safe learning spaces for children while their parents seek economic and educational opportunities.

We must continue to support workforce development, especially in rural and high-need areas. Workforce development includes students in high school; the community and technical college system; adult learners; apprenticeships; and individuals pursuing second careers.  I am proud of the bipartisan support and work in the Legislature to identify and address some of the workforce needs today, and in the future, but there is much work ahead of us.  

Rep. Peter Abbarno represents the 20th Legislative District and is an attorney with Althauser Rayan Abbarno, LLP. The June Chamber “Business After Hours” event will be on Thursday, June 15, from 5:00pm to 7:00pm at the law office of Althauser Rayan Abbarno, LLP on West Magnolia in Centralia.

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