Friday Deadline

Friday, March 1 is the cutoff date for bills to pass out of the chamber they are currently in. Now is the time to reach out to your state representatives and state senator as bills race to this finish line. Bill details are listed below in numerical order.

Please contact your state senator and ask your senator to support these bills: HB 1368, HB 1929, HB 1941, HB 1946, HB 1982, HB 2012, HB 2097 and HB 2099.

Additionally, please send a message to your House representatives and ask them to support the following bills: SB 5180, SB 5580, and SB 5908. 

Identify your district, state legislators, and their contact information here. Thank you for your advocacy as we near the conclusion of the 2024 legislative session on Thursday, March 7!

Bill Descriptions

HB 1368: Clean School Buses 

House Bill 1368 (HB 1368) would fund zero emission school buses. In its current form, under HB 1368 the Department of Ecology would administer a zero-emission school bus grant program and prioritize grants to overburdened communities and school districts with buses manufactured prior to 2007. Additionally, the bill also calls for a survey of school districts regarding the adoption of zero emission buses. With a statewide fleet of 10,000 buses, moving toward electric school buses would reduce pollution and adverse health effects resulting from diesel buses. In line with the bishops’ legislative priority to care for God’s creation, the WSCC supports HB 1368.

HB 1929: Support For Youth Exiting Behavioral Health Care 

House Bill 1929 (HB 1929) would provide support for youth exiting inpatient behavioral health care. Young adults completing inpatient behavioral health care treatment are the largest group of people who become homeless within three to 12 months after exiting publicly funded care. The moment of exiting inpatient behavioral health care is a key point in time to end a youth’s experience with homelessness. To assist youth during this important time, HB 1929 would create a post inpatient housing program for young adults to provide supportive transitional housing with behavioral health support. This program would also focus on securing long-term housing for the group of young adults exiting inpatient behavioral health treatment. HB 1929 is in line with the bishops’ legislative priorities of caring for children and families, combating homelessness, and providing health care for all. The WSCC supports HB 1929 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 6050 (SB 6050). 

HB 1941: Improve Care for Children with Medically-Complex Conditions 

House Bill 1941 (HB 1941) would improve health care options for children receiving Medicaid who have medically-complex conditions. In 2019, the federal government passed the Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Act. This law created provider “health homes” and health teams who can coordinate prompt care for children with medically complex conditions. HB 1941 would create a plan to participate in the ACE Act and establish these health home plans in Washington state to better serve children with medically complex conditions. In line with the bishops’ legislative priority to improve health care access, the WSCC supports HB 1941.

HB 1946: Behavioral Health Scholarship Program 

House Bill 1946 (HB 1946) would create the behavioral health scholarship program. Scholarship recipients would be required to work in underserved behavioral health areas. This bill would help address a shortage of behavioral health care professionals. In line with the bishops’ health care legislative priority, the WSCC supports HB 1946.   

HB 1982: Increased Broadband Access for Rural Areas and Native American Tribes

House Bill 1982 (HB 1982) would increase broadband access for rural areas and Native American tribes. HB 1982 codifies the Community Economic Revitalization Board Rural Broadband Program. This program provides grants and loans to local governments and federally recognized tribes for the purposes of financing the cost to build infrastructure to provide high-speed, open-access broadband service to rural and underserved communities for the purposes of economic development or community development. High-speed internet connectivity via broadband is an essential component to modern life, impacting access to education, health care, public safety, social services, and economic opportunities. Securing access to underserved populations is in line with the bishops’ economic justice legislative priority. The WSCC supports HB 1982.

HB 2012: Support Nonprofits Providing Affordable Housing 

House Bill 2012 (HB 2012) would increase the eligibility of nonprofits for property tax exemptions if they are providing affordable rental housing or lots for mobile homes for qualifying low-income individuals. In line with the bishops’ legislative priorities to support affordable housing and combat homelessness, the WSCC supports HB 2012. 

HB 2097: Recovering Wages Owed to Workers 

House Bill 2097 (HB 2097) would establish a work group to develop and recommend strategies to help employees recover wages owed to them when employers violate provisions of the Minimum Wage Act or other wage payment requirements. The bishops prioritize the dignity of work and the rights of workers, and the WSCC supports HB 2097.

HB 2099: Identification Cards for Persons in State Custody or Care

House Bill 2099 (HB 2099) would require the Department of Corrections, all state hospitals, secure community transition facilities, and residential treatment facilities to ensure that individuals in custody or care of these agencies possess state identification issued by the Department of Licensing prior to release or discharge. Proper identification will assist those who completed sentences or care to access housing, social services, and bank accounts and to reintegrate into society. Successful re-entry is key to reducing recidivism. In line with the bishops’ restorative justice legislative priority, the WSCC supports HB 2099. 

SB 5180: The Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact 

Senate Bill 5180 (SB 5180), the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact, would support teachers from other states in pathways to licensure in Washington. The bill would also help eligible military spouses in becoming licensed in our state. SB 5180 could be advantageous for teachers seeking employment in Catholic schools. In line with the bishops’ Catholic schools and education legislative priority, the WSCC supports SB 5180.

SB 5580: Maternal Health Outcomes 

Senate Bill 5580 (SB 5580) would improve maternal health outcomes. The U.S. morbidity rate for women who are pregnant or giving birth is the highest amongst developed nations. SB 5580 would increase eligibility to 210% of the federal poverty level requirement for health care (Apple Health) for pregnant and postpartum individuals. SB 5580 would also direct the Health Care Authority (HCA) to create a post-delivery and transitional care program for people with substance use disorder at the time of delivery to allow for extended post-delivery hospital care. Additionally, the Maternity Support Services (MSS) program would be updated to address perinatal outcomes and increase equity and healthier birth outcomes. In line with the bishops’ health care, respect life, and children/families legislative priorities, the WSCC supports SB 5580.

SB 5908: Improve The Extended Foster Care Program 

Senate Bill 5908 (SB 5908) would improve the extended foster care program. Youth who age out of the foster care system face substantial challenges. An extended foster care program for youth ages 18-21 has proven to be impactful: 41% of youth who age out of the foster care system at age 18 experience homelessness or housing instability, compared to only 23% of those using the extended foster care program. SB 5908 improves the extended foster care program by allowing youth to enter or exit the program at any time when they are aged 18-21, increasing awareness of the program among foster youth, improving eligibility, and creating a housing and maintenance subsidy for participants. Related to the bishops’ children/families and affordable housing/homelessness legislative priorities, the WSCC supports SB 5908.

If your senator is a member of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee or if one of your representatives is a member of the House Education Committee, please send them a message and urge them to pass Initiative 2081 (I-2081), which would establish a parents’ bill of rights for parents of children in public schools. Identify your district and legislators and obtain their contact information here. I-2081 is scheduled for a committee vote on Friday, March 1 in the morning. Jean Welch Hill, WSCC Executive Director, testified in favor of I-2081 at its hearing on February 28. In the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching, families are a central social institution that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined

I-2081 is the result of signature-gathering that occurred in 2023. If the Legislature does not pass I-2081, then the initiative will be put on the general election ballot in November.

I-2081 names parents as the primary stakeholders in their children’s upbringing. It also reiterates or establishes numerous parents’ rights within the public school system. Among those listed are the right to review medical records and health records, the right to receive prior notification when medical services are being offered to their child (except when emergency medical treatment is required), the right to receive notification of a medical service or medications provided to their child that could result in financial impact, the right to receive reassurance that a child’s public school will not discriminate against a child based upon sincerely held religious beliefs, and the right to receive notification if a child is taken or removed from a public school campus without parental permission, including to stay at a youth shelter or host home. I-2081 also calls for parents to receive notification and the ability to opt their children out of activities that include questions about a child’s sexual experiences or are on the topic of sexual activity. In line with the bishops’ legislative priority to support children and families, the WSCC supports I-2081.

SB 6298: Mandatory Reporting/Clergy-Penitent Privilege Bill Is Dead for the Session 

Senate Bill 6298 (SB 6298) concerning the duty of the clergy to report child abuse or neglect was not scheduled for a vote in the House Committee on Human Services, Youth, and Early Learning prior to the February 21 cutoff date. The bill is dead for the 2024 legislative session. Committee members would not pass a bill that included the clergy-penitent privilege and preserved the Seal of the Confessional. Last session, this committee passed HB 1098, a predecessor to SB 6298, that completely omitted the clergy-penitent privilege.

Looking to the next legislative session in January 2025, it is anticipated that a new version of SB 6298 will be introduced, most likely without a clergy-penitent privilege. Please join the WSCC in advocating for the Seal of the Confessional and the clergy-penitent privilege, and meet with your legislators in the interim between legislative sessions, April through December. Your advocacy is needed to explain the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Safe Environment practices of the Church, the rare occurrence of child abuse confessions, and that the Church supports mandatory reporting outside of the confessional. Many legislators are unaware of the grave impacts of holding priests criminally liable for maintaining their vow to protect the Seal of Confession. Please continue to follow our Catholic Advocacy Bulletins after the session for more information on year-round advocacy.

USCCB Anti-Human Trafficking Action Alert

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued this Action Alert to urge US senators to support anti-human trafficking legislation. Act now and use the Action Alert template to send a quick message to Senator Patty Murray and Senator Maria Cantwell.

March 16 Creation Care Network Summit

Click here to register and learn more.

Below are various resources of use during the legislative session: 

Important dates

February 1 Black History Month begins
March 1 Last day to pass bills out of opposite house.  Exceptions: initiatives and alternatives to initiatives, budgets and matters necessary to implement budgets, differences between the houses, and matters incident to the interim and closing of the session
March 7 Final day of the legislative session
March 24 Palm Sunday, Holy Week Begins
March 28  Holy Thursday
March 29  Good Friday
March 31Easter

WSCC staff

We invite you to contact us at any time.

Jean Welch Hill, Executive Director

Adrienne Corpuz Joyce, Director of Policy & Communications

Tracey Wilson Yackley, Operations Manager

Did a relative or friend forward this WSCC Catholic Advocacy Bulletin to you? Sign up for your own free subscription here.  The bulletin is available in both Spanish and English.  

You can also find the Washington State Catholic Conference on Facebook, Twitter @wacatholics, and Instagram.

Click here to view previous WSCC bulletins on our website.