Legislative Session Comes to a Close

Thursday, March 7 marked the close of the legislative session. Thank you, Catholic advocates, for joining the WSCC in advocating for the common good.

Click on links below for more details on bills the WSCC worked on this session:                                                                         

Next Step: Governor’s Signature 

Most of the bills above still await action by Governor Jay Inslee before being enacted into law.  Governor Inslee may now sign these bills into law, veto them, partially veto them, or do nothing. If he does nothing, the bills will automatically become law. Two actions you can take to support WSCC legislative priorities:

  1. Urge Governor Inslee to veto House Bill 2115 (HB 2115), which would allow health care providers who have prescribed an abortion medication to request that their names not be printed on prescription labels. Proponents of the bill argue that omitting a provider name will decrease harassment or intimidation. The WSCC does not condone harassment nor violence against abortion providers. At the same time, women may experience adverse effects following an abortion, and it is important that provider information be easily accessible in the event of an emergency. The health of women seeking abortions should be prioritized. Click here to send the governor a message.
  2. Encourage Governor Inslee to sign these bills into law. Click here to send the governor a message.  Bill details may be found here.

Initiative 2081 Passed into Law

Initiative 2081 (I-2081) has been passed into law. Thank you to advocates who collected signatures for this initiative and urged legislators to support it. 

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. In the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching, families are a central social institution that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined.

Supplemental Budget Highlights

In odd years the Legislature and the governor are required to adopt a new, balanced operating budget, and in even years a supplemental budget is passed. Below are some highlights of the 2024 supplemental budget as they relate to WSCC Legislative Priorities.

Funding for Newly Arrived Immigrants: $25.25 million has been designated for the Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance to expand support services for newly arriving individuals who do not qualify for the federal refugee resettlement program. Support services include, but are not limited to, housing assistance, food, transportation, childhood education services, education and employment supports, connection to legal services, and social services navigation.

Health Care for Immigrants: $28.4 million was added to the Medicaid-like program for undocumented immigrants. 

Economic Justice: HB 1075/SB 5249 would have increased eligibility for the Working Families Tax Credit. These bills did not pass, but $2 million was added to the budget for outreach to rural, BIPOC, and immigrant communities.

Children and Families: HB 2058 / SB 5964 would have provided free meals to any requesting student at a public school.  These bills did not pass, however an additional $45 million has been added to ensure schools have sufficient funds to cover the 2023 legislation that extends free school meals to children in grades kindergarten through fourth grade.

Caring for the Aging: Advocates requested $15.2 million a year for Senior Nutrition Programs.  The final budget adds only $12 million in one-time funding to cover 13,200 seniors. Despite the shortfall, this is the biggest investment of state dollars in these programs in at least 2 decades.

Affordable Housing and Homelessness: $60 million was added to increase funding for homelessness services, including shelters, rapid rehousing, and transitional housing. Funding for the Housing Trust Fund increased from $111.6 million to $127.5 million. This fund enables organizations like Catholic Charities and Catholic Community Services and Housing to build affordable housing. $3 million has been added to the Office of Civil Legal Aid’s right-to-counsel program, which guarantees low-income tenants the right to an attorney as they navigate the eviction process in court.   

SB 6298: Mandatory Reporting/Clergy-Penitent Privilege Bill Fails to Pass Out of House Committee  

Senate Bill 6298 (SB 6298) concerning the duty of the clergy to report child abuse or neglect did not pass out of the House Committee on Human Services, Youth, and Early Learning. 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.

Action Alert: Support Unaccompanied Migrant Children

Click here to send a letter to Senator Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell, and your US Representative to urge them to support unaccompanied migrant children. S.3178 / H.R.6145 would help unaccompanied children navigate the US immigration court system. Additionally, tenets of the bill lead to better protections for migrant children against human trafficking. Click above to learn more.

USCCB Anti-Human Trafficking Action Alert 

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

Ignatian Solidarity Network Webinar Series 

Dreams Into Action: Organizing for a More Just World

Learn how to engage your communities in social justice work. Join this four-part series for educators and parishioners to build the skills and methods needed to manifest dreams for justice into effective action. Learn more.

March 16 Creation Care Network Summit

Click here to register and learn more.

Important dates

March 24 Palm Sunday, Holy Week Begins
March 28Holy Thursday
March 29  Good Friday
March 31 Easter
April 21 World Day of Prayer for Vocations

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.