Inslee signs Boehnke workforce bill aimed at creating jobs, as well as education and training opportunities, in retail industry

A bill sponsored by Rep. Matt Boehnke seeking to create jobs and increase education and training opportunities in the retail industry has been signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee.

House Bill 2019 will require the state's Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board to work with statewide retail employer organizations to identify existing gaps and engage with stakeholders to make recommendations on:

  • Strategies to develop additional courses, pathways, and apprenticeships to make retail certifications and credentials available for job seekers and current retail employees;
  • Strategies to build a network for students and job seekers who complete retail certification courses to connect with potential employers;
  • Options for engaging and partnering with retail employers to provide courses to incumbent frontline workers for the purpose of upskilling and promotions, including in-demand, higher paid, non-industry specific positions within the retail industry; and
  • Options for increasing training and job opportunities in the retail industry for underserved communities and previously incarcerated individuals.

The bill received backing from business and labor groups alike, as well as overwhelming bipartisan support in the House (approved 94-2) and Senate (approved 49-0). Boehnke, the ranking Republican on the House Community and Economic Development Committee, says his bill is designed to grow Washington's workforce and strengthen the retail industry, which accounts for 42 percent of the state's revenue and is responsible for nearly 400,000 jobs.

“As we continue to try to grow our way out of the pandemic, our focus must be on innovation and fostering an economic environment that's favorable for business and job growth,” said Boehnke, R-Kennewick. “House Bill 2019 is designed to develop additional pathways for Washingtonians to find jobs in the retail industry, while also ensuring the necessary education and training is available to help them succeed and achieve greater upward mobility. This bill is a product of strong collaboration between Republicans and Democrats, business and labor, employers and employees, and so many others who care about Washington's workforce and the future of retail in our state. I am grateful for the overwhelming support it received from my fellow lawmakers, and want to thank the governor for signing it into law.”

House Bill 2019 will take effect on June 9.


Washington State House Republican Communications