Rep. Harris bill to allow behavioral health credential renewals during declared emergencies passes out of committee

The House Health Care and Wellness Committee unanimously passed a bill from Rep. Paul Harris this week that would allow some behavioral health care workers to renew their credentials during a state of emergency.

House Bill 1063 would authorize the Secretary of Health to grant a waiver for additional credential renewals due to barriers created from governor-declared emergencies. The legislation would also give more time to individuals looking to complete their licensure hours during times of a pandemic or state emergency.

“There are countless people hurting from the pandemic and we need to help them now,” said Harris, R-Vancouver. “My goal this session is to find real solutions for as many people as we can. The Legislature can’t solve every problem, but we can make a big difference by working together to pass common sense legislation. I’m pleased to see this bill pass the first step.”

The bill would apply to substance use disorder professional trainees’ certifications and associate licenses for social workers, mental health counselors, and marriage and family therapists.

“A constituent contacted me because she was not able to complete her licensure hours due to COVID-19,” said Harris. “We need to help people negatively affected by this and other emergencies, instead of hindering them. This piece of legislation would do that.”

The bill contains an emergency clause, meaning it would take effect immediately if passed. It now awaits a vote by the full state House of Representatives.

The 2021 legislative session began Jan. 11 and is schedule to last 105 consecutive days.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov