Senate unanimously approves Warnick legislation boosting dental schools

Warnick’s first bill of the session will help Yakima-area program

As the Legislature begins its first stretch of floor votes on proposals, the state Senate today unanimously approved Sen. Judy’ Warnick’s first bill of the 2023 legislative session, Senate Bill 5113.

Brought to Warnick’s attention by the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences located in Yakima, the measure would make regulatory changes to licensing requirements for faculty of dental schools, expanding access to a critical health-care specialty.

Currently, barriers exist for out-of-state faculty moving to Washington to teach in various medical fields, including dentistry. Under Warnick’s legislation, accredited dental schools can request temporary licensure for faculty who have accepted employment at the respective school.

“Access to health-care services in rural communities is desperately needed and with shortages across the board, I’m pleased the Senate has approved my proposal to help educate more dental professionals,” said Warnick, R-Moses Lake. “Allowing this kind of licensure reform will help Pacific Northwest University of Health attract the talent they need to meet the needs of the Yakima area and beyond.”

Under current state law, other dental schools in Washington are able to provide similar waivers for prospective faculty. Warnick’s proposal would create parity for this eastern Washington dental program. The temporary licensure would still maintain high standards, requiring approval by the Washington State Dental Quality Assurance Commission.

The measure now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration. The 105-day legislative session ends on April 23.