States move to ease licensing restrictions for formerly convicted applicants
The Week in Brief is your weekly snapshot of regulatory news and what's happening in the world of professional licensing, government technology, and public policy. In this week's news, some states reconsider how they look at licensing applicants with past criminal convictions, Canada lets symptomatic health care workers back to work, and cyberattacks continue to threaten the private sector.

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States review approach to licensing applicants with past criminal convictions

The Washington State Department of Licensing will begin to review “preliminary applications” from individuals with past criminal convictions who want to receive certain professional licenses. The new review process won’t guarantee license approval but instead seeks to determine whether the type of conviction is related to the license. The change follows the passage of House Bill 1399, which was passed to provide a better process for individuals with past criminal convictions to apply for professional licenses, and to allow these individuals to obtain a license if the criminal conviction does not directly relate to the applicable profession, business, or trade. See more at KXRO News Radio.

Meanwhile in Massachusetts, a group of experts in criminal justice is calling on the state to improve how it treats people who previously faced criminal charges, arguing the state needlessly burdens former defendants, especially individuals prosecuted as juveniles. During a recent hearing before the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary, reform advocates said the justice system too often hands down “effectively permanent” punishments that make it hard to seal or expunge old criminal records. Though other jurisdictions wipe certain types of legal records automatically, a 2018 state law asks former defendants to apply for relief individually and strictly limits eligibility. In a recent analysis, The Boston Globe found few people applied and even fewer succeeded.

Canadian provinces consider letting symptomatic healthcare workers back to work

Aiming to circumvent further healthcare disruptions as COVID-19 cases surge, British Columbia’s doctor said officials might allow some staff to keep working, regardless of whether they are infected. The provinces of Quebec and Ontario have also considered the move, and Manitoba now permits healthcare workers with mild COVID-19 symptoms who have still tested negative for the virus to return to work. Some experts allege the trend is a sign of a healthcare system that lacks resiliency.

Iowa labor shortages expected to continue into 2022

Labor shortages remain an enormous challenge in Iowa this school year as districts attempt to attract workers by increasing substitute pay, handing out bonuses, and closing buildings, according to Axios De Moines. Currently, there are nearly 130 full-time openings for school staff in central Iowa. Experts like Mike Beranek, president of the Iowa State Education Association, say labor shortages will persist in 2022 and that many educators will leave the profession earlier than planned, especially when their contracts are up.

Ontario and BC nurse regulators launch new entry-to-practice exam

The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) and the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) have developed a new entry-to-practice exam for Practical Nurses through a partnership with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). The Regulatory Exam–Practical Nurse (REx-PN), which launched last week, tests Canadian practical nurses’ entry-to-practice competencies. According to CNO, the exam is “based on current RPN practice, is focused on client safety, and ensures nurses who enter practice have the knowledge, skill and judgement needed at the beginning of their careers to practice safely.”

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Paul Leavoy
Written byPaul Leavoy
Paul Leavoy is Editor of Ascend Magazine and writes on occupational licensing, regulation, digital government, and public policy.

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