Washington State has introduced a new bill to help reduce barriers to occupational licenses for individuals with previous criminal convictions. Representative Brandon Vick stated at a hearing today: “We want the government providing the fewest amount of hurdles to get folks to work.”
WA House Bill 1399 is an effort to provide a reliable process for individuals with past criminal convictions to not be prevented from obtaining occupational licenses due only to their criminal conviction that does not relate to the occupation.
Specifically, the bill will provide a provision for:
“An individual who has a criminal conviction may submit to the appropriate licensing authority a preliminary application for a professional license, government certification, or state recognition of the individual’s personal qualifications for a determination as to whether the individual’s criminal conviction would disqualify the individual from obtaining the occupational or professional license, government certification, or state recognition of the individual’s personal qualifications from that licensing authority.”
Vick continued, “This [bill] allows a person with a criminal record to ask if they should invest that time.”
This bill will allow individuals to determine whether their past convictions will disqualify them from obtaining a specific license before undergoing the cost and time required for the license. This is an important step, as many licenses require hundreds of hours of training as well as expensive training and exams.
The current system does not have a process for individuals to know if they are already disqualified from obtaining a license until they have completed the necessary education and are applying for a license.
States should work to reduce any unnecessary barriers for any individuals pursuing opportunities for employment. We applaud Washington for working to help those with previous criminal convictions get back to work and other states should follow their lead.