Legislation to help individuals convicted of a crime get back into the workforce heads to the governor

A bill from Rep. Brandon Vick, which would help individuals reenter the workforce after completing a prison sentence, is one step closer to becoming law.

House Bill 1399 is on its way to the governor after it was amended and approved in both chambers. The bill would create a process for people with a criminal conviction to determine whether their criminal history would disqualify them from obtaining a professional license.

“I've been working on this legislation for several sessions, and I'm very pleased to see it take this next step,” said Vick, R-Vancouver. “This bill should make the reentry process easier for anyone who has paid their debt to society and wants to make an honest living by getting back into the workforce.”

The bill would create a logical and simple process for individuals convicted of a crime to apply for and receive a professional license. It would also let them know before paying any fees or filling out any forms, whether they would be eligible to receive the license they're seeking.

House Bill 1399 also aims to reduce the tendency to reoffend.

We need to make it easier for people to get back into the workforce, instead of creating barriers that keep them from moving forward,” Vick said. “When our policies and processes impede people from getting back to work and reintegrated into society, it's much more likely they will end up reoffending.”

The bill does take into consideration the type of crime committed in relation to the type of license being sought. For example, if someone commits a financial crime, he or she would not be able to get a license in the financial sector.

The bill now awaits the governor's signature to become law.

The 105-day 2021 legislative session began Jan. 11 and is scheduled to end April 25.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov