For the next week and a half, bills will continue to move through committee hearings as the next bill cutoff date approaches on March 29. By this date, all bills must pass out of their policy committees. As committee hearings continue, you have the opportunity to be a Catholic voice. Sign in pro/con for bills below and contact your legislators if they are members of key committees. There is still much work to be accomplished through the end of the legislative session, which concludes at the end of April.
If you haven’t done so already, please click here to send a message to your representatives and urge them to oppose the expansion of assisted suicide,Senate Bill 5179 (SB 5179). This bill has passed through the Senate and is expected to be voted on by the House in upcoming weeks. More details about this bill can be found on our Action Alert page. In February Bishop Joseph Tyson of the Diocese of Yakima testified against Senate Bill 5179. In accordance with the bishops' legislative priority to respect life from conception to natural death, the WSCC opposes SB 5179.
Sign in “pro” for House Bill 1329 (HB 1329), which would help individuals with low incomes by preventing utilities from shutting off their water or electricity due to nonpayment during periods of extreme heat. Please sign in by Tuesday, March 21 at 12:30 pm. HB 1329 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, and Technology. When signing in you may leave the "organization" box blank or write in "parishioner of --- Church." In line with the bishops’ economic justice legislative priority, the WSCC supports HB 1329.
Sign in “pro” for Senate Bill 5180 (SB 5180), which would support teachers from other states in pathways to licensure in Washington. SB 5180 would also help eligible military spouses to become licensed in our state. Please sign in by Monday, March 20 at 12:30 pm. SB 5180 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Education one hour later. When signing in you may leave the "organization" box blank or write in "parishioner of --- Church." SB 5180 could be advantageous for teachers seeking employment in Catholic schools, and it would aid Catholic schools in hiring qualified teachers. In line with the bishops’ Catholic schools and education legislative priority, the WSCC supports SB 5180.
Sign in “pro” for House Bill 1177 (HB 1177) to help missing and murdered indigenous women and people. Please sign in by Monday, March 20 at 12:30 pm. HB 1177 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Law and Justice one hour later. When signing in you may leave the "organization" box blank or write in "parishioner of --- Church." Indigenous women experience violence at higher rates than other individuals and are murdered at rates greater than ten times the national average. These crimes are often unsolved or unreported. HB 1177 would create a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Cold Case Investigation Assistance Unit within the Office of the Attorney General to increase capacity to help indigenous women and people and solve related crimes. In line with the bishops’ legislative priority to respect the dignity of all, the WSCC supports HB 1177.
Sign in “con” for Senate Bill 5599 (SB 5599) to protect youth and families. Please sign in by Wednesday, March 22 at 12:30 pm. HB 5599 is scheduled for a hearing one hour later in the House Committee on Human Services, Youth, and Early Learning. When signing in you may leave the "organization" box blank or write in "parishioner of --- Church." SB 5599 breaks down familial relationships. Currently, licensed overnight shelters and licensed organizations providing services to homeless or runaway youth must contact a youth’s parents if they know that a child is away from home without parental permission. Exceptions may be made if notifying a parent or legal guardian will subject a minor to abuse or neglect. SB 5599 would further expand exceptions to notifying parents or legal guardians. Namely, if a youth is seeking an abortion or gender-affirming care, parents or legal guardians do not need to be notified. According to Catholic Social Teaching, the family is the most central social institution, and it must be supported and strengthened. SB 5599 undermines families. In line with the bishops’ legislative priorities to protect children and families and respect life, the WSCC opposes SB 5599.
The following bills are scheduled to be voted on soon. If your legislator is a member of one of the committees below, please urge your legislator to vote for or against the bills below. Now is the perfect time to offer input to your legislator, just prior to the scheduled vote.
Targeted Action Alert: If your senator is a member of theSenate Committee on Early Learning and K-12 Education, please send your senator a message now, and urge him or her to pass House Bill 1109 (HB 1109). Identify your district, state senator, and your senator’s contact info here. The committee will be voting on HB 1109 on Monday, March 20. Currently, special education initial evaluations and the subsequent development of individualized education programs do not occur when school is out of session for the summer. HB 1109 would provide funding for initial evaluations and the development of individualized education programs to take place during summer months. In line with the bishops’ legislative priorities of caring for children/families and those with disabilities, the WSCC supports HB 1109.
Targeted Action Alert: If your state senator is a member of theSenate Committee on Early Learning and K-12 Education, please contact your senator now, and ask him or her to pass House Bill 1238 out of committee. Identify your district, state senator, and your senator’s contact info here. HB 1238 is scheduled for a vote on Monday, March 20. HB 1238 would require certain public schools serving grades K-4 to provide breakfast and lunch each school day at no charge to any student who requests these meals. This program would be phased in over the next two school years. In line with the bishops’ legislative priorities of children and families, economic justice, and education, the WSCC supports HB 1238.
Targeted Action Alert: If your senator is a member of the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, and Technology, please send your senator a message now, and urge her or him to pass the Toxics Free Cosmetics Act, House Bill 1047 (HB 1047). Identify your district, state senator, and your senator’s contact info here. HB 1047 is scheduled for a vote on Tuesday, March 21 at 1:30 pm. The Toxics Free Cosmetics Act addresses the fact that many personal care items and cosmetics contain chemicals that are unregulated, and are linked to cancer and developmental and reproductive harm. In addition to harming individuals, unregulated chemicals also pollute the environment during manufacturing and after disposal. The Toxics Free Cosmetics Act would ban certain hazardous chemicals in cosmetics, include hazard assessments of substitute chemicals, and provide incentives for small businesses to make safer cosmetics. In line with the bishops’ legislative priority of caring for God’s creation, the WSCC supports the Toxics Free Cosmetics Act.
Targeted Action Alert: If one of your representatives is a member of the House Committee on Health Care and Wellness, please send your representative a message now, and urge him or her to oppose Senate Bill 5242 (SB 5242), a pro-abortion bill. Identify your district, senator, and your senator’s contact info here. The House committee will vote on this bill on Wednesday, March 22. SB 5242 would prohibit health insurance plans from imposing cost sharing for abortion. Health insurers impose cost sharing for many medically necessary and life-saving procedures; abortion procedures need not be exempted from this practice. In line with the bishops’ legislative priority to respect life, the WSCC opposes SB 5242.
Targeted Action Alert: If one of your representatives is a member of the House Committee on Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry, please send a message to your representative now, urging him or her to vote for Senate Bill 5453 (SB 5453) to help survivors of female genital mutilation (FGM). Identify your district, representatives, and your legislators’ contact info here. SB 5453 is scheduled for a vote on Thursday, March 23. SB 5453 creates a civil cause of action for survivors of FGM, defines FGM as unprofessional conduct under the Uniform Disciplinary Act for health care providers, creates education programs, and establishes FGM as a crime. In line with the bishops’ priority to respect the dignity of every human person, the WSCC supports SB 5453.
Targeted Action Alert: If your state senator is a member of the Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care, please urge your senator to oppose House Bill 1151 (HB 1151). Identify your district, senator, and your senator’s contact info here. Please contact your senator now. The Senate committee may vote on this bill soon. HB 1151 would mandate health coverage of fertility services. The WSCC specifically opposes the promotion of in vitro fertilization (IVF), which creates human embryos that are not properly cared for. Our Catholic faith teaches us to respect all life and that life begins at conception. However, IVF often results in unused embryos that are frozen indefinitely, destroyed, or abandoned. Life is not properly cared for nor respected. Additionally, IVF can treat children as commodities that are manufactured outside of the construct of the expression of love of a married couple. A more thorough explanation of the complexity of the Church’s opposition to IVF may be found here. In line with the legislative priority to respect life, the WSCC opposes HB 1151.
Senate Bill 5280 (SB 5280) would mandate clergy to report child abuse or neglect. In its current, original form, the Senate bill exempts clergy from reporting child abuse or neglect when information is obtained during the sacrament of Reconciliation, as a result of the established clergy-penitent privilege. In its original form, SB 5280 does not attempt to change current practice within the Catholic Church. Clergy are already mandatory reporters when they obtain information outside of the confessional.
SB 5280 had a companion bill, House Bill 1098 (HB 1098), that was amended and opposed by the WSCC. HB 1098 was amended, striking the confessional exemption; it mandated that clergy report child abuse or neglect, even when information is obtained during the sacrament of Reconciliation. This practice would violate canon law. The WSCC opposed HB 1098. Fortunately, this bill was not passed by the full House. While SB 5280 in its current form is not objectionable, the WSCC would oppose any amendment seeking to negatively impact the sacrament of Reconciliation.
SB 5280 is scheduled for a hearing on March 21, and the House Committee on Human Services, Youth, and Early Learning will be voting on the bill on March 24 at 8 am. If one of your representatives is a member of this committee, please ask your representative to maintain the clergy penitent privilege in the bill. Identify your district, representatives, and your representatives’ contact info here.
Thank you to advocates who contacted legislators and opposedSenate Joint Resolution 8202 (SJR 8202) and House Joint Resolution 4201 (HJR 4201), which would have created a constitutional right to abortion in Washington state. Nearly 1,500 messages were sent to the governor and state legislators via our Action Alert! HJR 4201 failed to pass out of its policy committee, and SJR 8202 was never brought to the Senate floor for a vote. Unlike other bills, a joint resolution to change the constitution must receive a two-thirds affirmative vote from the full legislature. Other bills only require a majority vote to pass. Both resolutions are dead for this legislative session.
During Holy Week the dioceses will be celebrating Chrism Masses, during which holy oils will be blessed. The holy oils will then be used in the administration of the sacraments at Easter and throughout the year. The bishops and priests will renew their priestly promises during the liturgy. In the Archdiocese of Seattle the Chrism Mass will take place on March 30 at 7 pm at the St. James Cathedral. In the Diocese of Spokane the Mass will take place on March 28 at 5:30 pm at the Cathedral of Our Lady or Lourdes. In the Diocese of Yakima, the Mass will also be celebrated on March 28 at 7 pm at St. Paul Cathedral.
In the Archdiocese of Seattle, Partners in the Gospel is underway, a strategic pastoral planning effort intended to re-invigorate and renew local Catholic churches. This planning effort will bring most parishes together into a new family structure with two or more parishes. Pastors, parish leaders and parishioners will determine how this new family will best join together to carry out the mission of the Church as one parish. Learn more here, and read the latest Partners in the Gospel newsletter here.
Last month, the Religious Family of the Immaculate Heart and the Divine Mercy, along with the Theotokos Marian Movement and the Diocese of Yakima, hosted the 5th Worldwide Rosary. The rosary took place at the Cathedral of Saint Paul, with Bishop Joseph Tyson presiding. The event was broadcast live on television, radio, and social media and can be viewed here.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) invites you to learn more about how you can take action with CRS in your own community to end global poverty. Across the country, Catholics and others of goodwill are joining in the mission of CRS by carrying out advocacy and community giving actions throughout the year. In Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis reminds us that "we can aspire to a world that provides land, housing and work for all.” At CRS we want to make this dream a reality and we believe we can do it with your help! Upcoming Zoom meetings are a great chance to learn more about the work of CRS and how CRS Chapters and Clubs are making an impact in addressing hunger, poverty and injustice around the world! These 45-minute sessions take place the third Wednesday of each month at 5 pm PT. Register to attend one of the upcoming information sessions on Zoom:March 22, April 19, or May 17 at 5 PM PT.These events will be hosted in English with closed captioning available in Spanish. Upcoming dates for Spanish sessions will be announced soon!
Additionally, the CRS State Coalition Leaders would like to invite you to join the State Coalition visit with your U.S. Senate offices this spring. Register using this form and invite others in your community to register by March 22, 2023. All are welcome!