Monthly Archives: March 2014

Hasegawa’s ‘days of faith’ bill signed into law

March 31st, 2014|

Public employees and students in public schools will be allowed to take up to two days off each year for reasons of faith or conscience under legislation signed into law today by Gov. Jay Inslee.

The new law, sponsored by Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Beacon Hill, grants public employees the option of taking two new unpaid holidays on days that suit their personal faith or conscience. Similarly, public school students could be excused from school for up to two days for similar reasons, provided they have their parents’ approval. The school absences would not affect school district compliance with educational requirements or enrollment calculations.

Hasegawa’s legislation is designed to provide flexibility to peoples and faiths that don’t fit conveniently into the standard calendar. The two most important Muslim and Jewish holidays, for example, fall not on consistent days each year but on different days due to the shorter lunar calendar year and the methods for determining the dates.  Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, Native Americans and numerous other faiths and cultures can benefit from this new bill.

“The principle behind this law is that the American ideal of religious freedom should be honored for everyone,” Hasegawa said. “Religious minorities should be able to properly celebrate their most meaningful holidays without fear of recriminations in the workplace or classroom.”

Hasegawa plans to attend a multicultural celebration of the bill’s passage soon and invites anyone who would like to participate to contact his district office at 206-858-8041 for more details.

Hasegawa: Democrats won’t give up on voting rights bill

March 13th, 2014|

Though the Voting Rights Act was killed this legislative session by Senate Republicans, Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Beacon Hill, promised that Senate Democrats will renew the fight to pass the bill next year.

House Bill 1413 had passed the House and was voted out of the Senate Government Operations Committee with support from Republicans, advancing the bill to the Senate Rules Committee, but it got no further. Despite two attempts by Democrats to vote the bill out of the Senate Rules Committee so that it could be heard on the Senate floor, the Republican majority blocked it on both votes.

“This bill went farther than anyone expected,” Hasegawa said. “We came within one vote of getting it to the floor. All we needed was one more Republican vote.”

Instead, the bill deadlocked on an 11-11 vote.

“Coming up short was a major disappointment and a huge missed opportunity to give local governments a means of avoiding costly litigation by replacing at-large voting systems if they have been found to disenfranchise sizable segments of their communities with alternatives, including district voting, that are more representative,” Hasegawa said. “Still, it’s not the end. We will be back with this bill next year, and I am optimistic we will persuade more of our colleagues across the aisle to recognize the fairness and the flexibility this legislation can provide.”

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    Hasegawa ‘days of faith’ bill passes House, nears full passage

Hasegawa ‘days of faith’ bill passes House, nears full passage

March 10th, 2014|

Public employees and students in public schools will be allowed to take up to two days off each year for reasons of faith or conscience under legislation that passed the House recently on a 64-32 vote.

Senate Bill 5173, sponsored by Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Beacon Hill, would grant public employees the option of taking a new unpaid holiday along with a paid floating day they are entitled to on days that suit their religious beliefs. Similarly, public school students could be excused from school for up to two days for similar reasons, provided they have their parents’ approval. The school absences would not affect school district compliance with educational requirements or enrollment calculations.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously last month but was amended in the House prior to its passage in that chamber, so now it must come back to the Senate for concurrence with the amended version. Hasegawa said concurrence is expected and all that will remain will be for the bill to be signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Hasegawa’s legislation is designed to provide flexibility to peoples and faiths that don’t fit conveniently into the standard calendar. For instance, the two most important Muslim and Jewish holidays fall not on a consistent day each year but on a different day due to the shorter lunar calendar year and the method for determining the date.

“This bill is a step forward toward the American ideal of religious freedom and will have significant impact on the lives of many Washingtonians,” Hasegawa said. “Religious minorities will finally be able to celebrate and observe their most meaningful holidays without fear of retaliation or losing their jobs.”