WSCC 2024 Catholic Advocacy Bulletin, No. 6 - Archived

by Stephanie Sanchez
This content has been archived. It may no longer be relevant or up to date. For more information contact Msgr. Robert Siler,

February 16, 2024

21 de febrero de 2024

SB 6298: Mandatory Reporting and the Clergy Penitent Privilege

Senate Bill 6298 (SB 6298) concerning the duty of the clergy to report child abuse or neglect, was heard in a House committee on Friday, February 16.  It is scheduled for a vote on Tuesday, February 20. SB 6298 makes all clergy of any faith mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect with the limited exception of information obtained in a penitential communication. The definition of penitential communication is narrowly designed to protect the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation. Opponents of the bill are seeking to eliminate the privilege entirely, leaving clergy without any protections when they refuse to break the seal of confession.

The WSCC is in support of most of this bill, which represents a compromise between the religious liberty rights of religions and the rights of survivors of abuse. Thus, the bill provides a strong exemption from reporting for any information obtained solely in the Sacrament of Confession. On the other hand, if a child is actively being abused, the bill adds a duty to warn authorities, even if the information comes “in part” from a penitential communication.

No priest has authority to violate Canon Law by breaking the Seal of Confession, even in part. Similarly, we know of no priest who would allow known child abuse to persist and a known perpetrator to continue to jeopardize their immortal soul after that person has reached out for help in the Sacrament of Confession.

We have taken a neutral position on the “in part” language because the broader exemption for penitential communications in the bill is critical to protect the Sacrament of Confession from state intrusion. The duty to warn is such an intrusion but can be avoided by following Safe Environment policies and pastoral care of a penitent confessing to ongoing sinfulness.

As noted, advocates are pushing for an amendment to this bill that would eliminate the exemption altogether, placing the priest in violation of the law in all circumstances where there is a confession of past or present abuse.

SB 6298: Informantes Obligatorios y el Privilegio Clero-Penitente

El proyecto de ley del Senado 6298 (SB 6298), que se refiere al deber del clero de denunciar el abuso o la negligencia infantil, fue discutido en el comité de la Cámara de Representantes el viernes, 16 de febrero. No está programado para ser votado antes del plazo límite del 21 de febrero, y no se espera que avance más en este período legislativo. SB 6298 hubiera obligado a todos los clérigos de cualquier fe a denunciar obligatoriamente el abuso o la negligencia infantil, con la excepción limitada de la información obtenida en una comunicación penitencial. La definición de comunicación penitencial fue creada minuciosamente para proteger el Sacramento Católico de la Reconciliación.

Bills Are Moving to the Next Chamber 

We are over halfway through the session, and bills have now moved to the opposite chamber for consideration. See below for opportunities to sign in “pro” for bills supported by the WSCC. Thank you for your advocacy!

ACTION ALERT: Sign in “Pro” for These Bills

A number of bills have upcoming public hearings. Use the links provided to sign in electronically and demonstrate your support. When signing in we encourage you to write “parishioner of — Church” or “Catholic constituent” in the “organization” box.

Sign in “Pro” for Clean School Buses 

Sign in “pro” for House Bill 1368 (HB 1368), which would require and fund the purchase of zero emission school buses. Please sign in prior to Monday, February 19 at 12:30 pm. HB 1368 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Early Learning and K-12 Education one hour later. 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, any new school buses purchased by schools would need to be zero emission, once the total cost of ownership is determined to be below the total cost of ownership of diesel buses. This 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.

Sign in “Pro” to Help Refugees and Immigrants 

Sign in “pro” for House Bill 2368 (HB 2368), which would refine laws supporting refugees and immigrants. Please sign in prior to 9:30 am on Tuesday, February 19.  HB 2368 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Human Services one hour later. HB 2368 establishes the scope of the office of refugee and immigrant assistance. Under HB 2368, this office would coordinate state, federal, and local efforts to support the economic and social integration of immigrants and refugees arriving in Washington state. This office would also provide cash assistance, medical assistance, and refugee support services to immigrants and refugees. This past fall, the WSCC issued this statement on immigration. In line with the legislative priority to care for immigrants, the WSCC supports HB 2368.

Sign in “Pro” for Professional Licenses and Certifications for Immigrants 

Sign in “pro” for House Bill 1889 (HB 1889), which would allow individuals to receive certain professional licenses, certifications, permits, and registrations for various professions, regardless of immigration or citizenship status. Please sign in prior to 9:30 am on Monday, February 19. HB 1889 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Labor and Commerce one hour later. This past fall, the WSCC issued this statement on immigration. In accordance with the bishops’ legislative priority to support immigrants, the WSCC supports HB 1889.

Sign in “Pro” to Support Formerly Incarcerated Individuals Reintegrating into Society 

Sign in “pro” for Senate Bill 5893 (SB 5893) to support those reintegrating into society and being released from custody prior to the end of their sentence. Please sign in prior to 12:30 pm on Monday, February 19. SB 5893 is scheduled for a hearing one hour later in the House Committee on Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry. Current law stipulates that those being discharged from the Department of Corrections shall be supplied with suitable clothing, transportation, and subsistence money that the operating budget has currently set for $300. SB 5893 extends these provisions to those transitioning to partial confinement or community custody. As individuals complete their sentences, it is important to support those departing from the Department of Corrections to avoid recidivism. This bill aligns with the bishops’ restorative justice legislative priority. The WSCC supports SB 5893.

Sign in “Pro” for Identification Cards for Persons in State Custody or Care 

Sign in “pro” for House Bill 2099 (HB 2099), which 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. Please sign in prior to 3 pm on Tuesday, February 20. HB 2099 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Transpiration one hour later. In line with the bishops’ restorative justice legislative priority, the WSCC supports HB 2099.

Sign in “Pro” for HB 1941 to Improve Care for Children with Medically-Complex Conditions

Sign in “pro” for House Bill 1941 (HB 1941), which would improve health care options for children receiving Medicaid who have medically-complex conditions. Please sign in prior to 7 am on Tuesday, February 20. HB 1941 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care one hour later. In 2019, the federal government passed the Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids 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 Kids 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.

Sign in “Pro” for HB 2114 to Improve Housing Stability for Tenants 

Sign in “pro” for House Bill 2114 (HB 2114), which would improve housing stability for tenants. Please sign in prior to 12:30 pm on Thursday, February 22. HB 2114 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee one hour later. Provisions of HB 2114 include limiting rent and fee increases, requiring notice of rent and fee increases, limiting fees and deposits, establishing a landlord resource center, authorizing tenant lease termination, creating parity between lease types, and providing for attorney general enforcement. Amidst a housing affordability crisis in Washington state, this bill is in line with the bishops’ affordable housing legislative priority, and the WSCC supports HB 2114.

Los proyectos de ley avanzan en la cámara opuesta

La fecha límite para que los proyectos salgan de su cámara de origen venció hace una semana. Desde entonces, varios proyectos de ley han tenido audiencias en comités de políticas en la cámara opuesta. Vea a continuación las oportunidades de abogar esta semana.

ALERTA DE ACCIÓN: Firme a favor o “Pro” del HB 2114 para mejorar la estabilidad de la vivienda para los inquilinos

Firme a favor o “pro” del Proyecto de Ley 2114 de la Cámara de Representantes (HB 2114), que mejoraría la estabilidad de la vivienda para los inquilinos. Firme antes de las 12:30 pm del jueves 22 de febrero. El HB 2114 está programado para una audiencia en el Comité de Medios y Arbitrios del Senado una hora después. Al firmar, le recomendamos que escriba “feligrés de — Iglesia” o “constituyente católico” en la casilla “organización”. Las disposiciones del HB 2114 incluyen la limitación de los aumentos de alquiler y depósitos, la exigencia de notificación de los aumentos de renta y depósitos, la limitación de costos y depósitos, el establecimiento de un centro de recursos para propietarios, la autorización de la terminación del contrato de arrendamiento por parte del inquilino, la creación de paridad entre los tipos de arrendamiento y la aplicación de la ley por parte de la fiscalía. En medio de una crisis de acceso a la vivienda en el estado de Washington, este proyecto de ley está en línea con la prioridad legislativa de vivienda asequible de los obispos, y la WSCC apoya el HB 2114.

Bills with Upcoming Committee Votes

SB 5180: The Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact 

If one of your representatives is a member of the House Committee on Education, urge your representative to support the Senate Bill 5180 (SB 5180), the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact. The House Committee on Education is scheduled to vote on this SB 5180 on Tuesday, February 20 at 4 pm. Identify your district and representatives and find a link to send them a message here. SB 5180 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.

HB 1929: Support for Youth Exiting Behavioral Health Care 

If your state senator is a member of the Senate Committee on Human Services, urge your senator to support House Bill 1929 (HB 1929), which would provide support for youth exiting inpatient behavioral health care. The Senate Committee on Human Services is scheduled to vote on HB 1929 on Tuesday, February 20 at 10:30 am. Identify your district and senator and find a link to send your senator a message here. 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.

Respect Life Updates 

HB 1151 Dies in the House 

House Bill 1151 (HB 1151), which would have promoted the mishandling of human embryos, failed to pass out of the House and will not be advancing this session. HB 1151 would have mandated 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 opposed HB 1151 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 5204.

HB 2115: Abortion Prescription Labels 

On February 15, the Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care conducted a hearing for 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.  WSCC executive director Jean Hill testified against the bill, and her testimony may be viewed here. HB 2115 was passed out of the committee this morning. If passed this legislative session, HB 2115 would allow practitioners to request that the prescription label for a patient’s abortion medication include the prescribing and dispensing health care facility name, instead of the practitioner’s name. 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. Additionally, federal law requires that physicians’ names be provided on prescription labels. Respecting life and the dignity of every human person is a legislative priority, and the WSCC opposes HB 2115.

Respect Life Updates 

Noticias actualizadas sobre el Respeto por la vida 

El HB 1151 no logró pasar la Cámara de Diputados.  El Proyecto de Ley 1151 de la Cámara de Representantes (HB 1151), que habría promovido el mal manejo de embriones humanos, no fue aprobado por la Cámara de Representantes y no avanzará en esta sesión.  El HB 1151 hubiera sancionado los servicios de fertilidad. La WSCC se opone específicamente a la promoción que hace este proyecto de ley de la fertilización in vitro o IVF, por sus siglas en inglés, por medio de la cual se crean embriones que no son cuidados debidamente. Nuestra fe católica nos enseña a respetar la vida y que la vida comienza desde la concepción. Sin embargo, el IVF a menudo resulta en el congelamiento del embrión por tiempo indefinido y en su destrucción o abandono si no es utilizado.  Además, el proceso de IVF puede tratar a los niños como productos que son fabricados fuera de la estructura de la expresión del amor de un matrimonio.  Podrá encontrar una explicación más profunda acerca de la complejidad de la oposición de la Iglesia al IVF aquí. De acuerdo con la prioridad legislativa de los obispos de respeto por la vida, la WSCC se opone al HB 1151 y su compañero el Proyecto de Ley del Senado 5204.

HB 2115: Abortion Prescription Labels 

El 15 de febrero, el Comité Senatorial de Salud y Atención a Largo Plazo llevó a cabo una audiencia para el Proyecto de Ley 2115 de la Cámara de Representantes (HB 2115), que permitiría a los proveedores de atención médica que hayan recetado un medicamento abortivo solicitar que sus nombres no se impriman en las etiquetas de las recetas. La directora ejecutiva de WSCC, Jean Hill, testificó en contra del proyecto de ley, y su testimonio se puede ver aquí. El proyecto de ley HB 2115 fue aprobado por el comité el viernes. Si se aprueba en esta sesión legislativa, el HB 2115 permitiría a un proveedor de atención médica que haya recetado un medicamento abortivo solicitar que su nombre no esté impreso en la etiqueta de la receta. Identifique a su distrito y a sus representantes y encuentre un enlace para enviarles un mensaje aquí.  En lugar de los nombres de los proveedores de abortos, se puede usar el número de identificación de un médico o el nombre de un centro de atención médica en las etiquetas de las recetas.  Los defensores del proyecto de ley argumentan que omitir el nombre de un proveedor disminuirá el acoso o la intimidación.  La WSCC no aprueba el acoso ni la violencia contra los proveedores de abortos.  Al mismo tiempo, las mujeres pueden experimentar efectos adversos después de un aborto, y es importante que la información del proveedor sea fácilmente accesible en caso de una emergencia.  Se debe dar prioridad a la salud de las mujeres que buscan abortar. Además, la ley federal requiere que los nombres de los médicos se proporcionen en las etiquetas de las recetas. Respetar la vida y la dignidad de cada persona humana es una prioridad legislativa, y la WSCC se opone al HB 2115.

Give to PREPARES in Washington 

PREPARES – Pregnancy & Parenting Support – is our promise to care for mothers, fathers and  their families from pregnancy to the child’s fifth birthday – no matter their beliefs. This program is a way we can “walk our talk” about celebrating the gift of life and making sure that no child – born or unborn – is ever abandoned or alone.

As of 2023, PREPARES statewide has been embraced by 188 parishes; 742 parish Volunteers and Companions, trained by local Catholic Charities staff, have participated in supporting 14,120 vulnerable moms, dads, and children with one-on-one family companionship and infant and child essentials.

Join our annual appeal. Your financial support enables us to continue the work of PREPARES in the state of Washington. Thank you to those who have already generously donated. It is not too late to contribute. Click here to join the Church in caring for young children and their families. 

Haga su donativo para PREPARES en Washington

PREPARES – Apoyo al Embarazo y a la Crianza – es nuestra promesa de cuidar a las madres, los padres y sus familias desde el embarazo hasta que el niño cumpla cinco años, sin importar sus creencias. Este programa es una forma en que podemos “predicar con el ejemplo” sobre la celebración del regalo de la vida y asegurarnos de que ningún niño, nacido o no nacido, sea abandonado o esté solo.

A partir de 2023, PREPARES en todo el estado ha sido adoptado por 188 parroquias; 742 voluntarios y compañeros de la parroquia, capacitados por el personal local de Caridades Católicas, han participado en el apoyo a 14.120 madres, padres y niños vulnerables con acompañamiento personal y artículos esenciales para bebés y niños.

Únase a nuestra campaña anual. Su apoyo financiero nos permite continuar el trabajo de PREPARES en el estado de Washington. Gracias a los que ya han donado generosamente. No es demasiado tarde para contribuir. Haga clic aquí para unirse a la Iglesia en el cuidado de los niños pequeños y sus familias.

March 16 Creation Care Network Summit

Click here to register and learn more.

16 de marzo: Cumbre de la Red de Cuidado de la Creación

Haga clic aquí para inscribirse y saber más.

Below are various resources of use during the legislative session: (repeated from last week)

A continuación, se presentan varios recursos de uso durante la sesión legislativa:

Important Dates


February 1 Black History Month begins
February 21 Last day to pass bills out of committee from opposite house. Exceptions: House fiscal committees and Senate Ways and Means and Transportation committees
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 31 Easter

WSCC Staff

We invite you to contact us at any time.

Jean Welch Hill, Executive Director

Adrienne Corpuz Joyce, Director of Policy and 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.

Fechas importantes


1° de febrero Inicio del Mes de la Historia Afroamericana
21 de febrero Último día para aprobar proyectos de ley en los comités de la cámara opuesta. Excepciones: los comités fiscales de la Cámara de Representantes y los comités de Medios y Arbitrios y Transporte del Senado
1° de marzo Último día para aprobar proyectos de ley en la cámara opuesta.  Excepciones: iniciativas y alternativas a las iniciativas, presupuestos y asuntos necesarios para ejecutar los presupuestos, diferencias entre las cámaras y asuntos relacionados con el período de sesiones intermedio y de clausura
7° de marzo Último día del periodo legislativo
24° de marzo Domingo de Ramos, Inicio de la Semana Santa
28° de marzo Jueves Santo
29° de marzo Viernes Santo
31° de marzo Pascua

Personal de la WSCC

Les invitamos a contactarnos en cualquier momento.

Jean Welch Hill, Directora ejecutiva

Adrienne Corpuz Joyce, Directora de Políticas y Comunicaciones

Tracey Wilson Yackley, Gerente operativo

¿Un familiar o amigo le envió este Boletín de Defensa Católica del WSCC? Regístrese aquí para obtener su propia suscripción gratuita. El boletín está disponible en español e inglés.

También puede encontrar la Conferencia Católica del Estado de Washington en Facebook, Twitter @wacatholics e Instagram.

Haga clic aquí para ver los boletines anteriores del WSCC en nuestro sitio web.

Vida. Justicia. Libertad.