The following is an excerpt from a message written by Sen. Bob Hasegawa to his 11th District constituents about Senate Bill 5173, which passed in the last legislative session. The bill allows two days leave of absence for public employees and all public school students for matters of faith or conscience.
For more details on SB 5173, click here
I knew we had a lot of support this past legislative session for SB 5173, my bill to secure for all public employees and public school students two days leave of absence for matters of faith or conscience, but I was reminded of the breadth of that support when I recently attended a community celebration of the bill’s passage at the Rainier Community Center in Seattle.
The range of faiths, ethnicities, and cultures on hand led to a dizzying assortment of foods and entertainment, along with traditional blessings on our celebration by Native Americans, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Jews, Christians, and Buddhists. Performances included Asian-Indians, Filipino dance group, Pacific Islanders, Muslims, and a Chinese lion dance.
While all Americans have the right to practice the religion of their choice, until the passage of SB 5173, they haven’t always had the ability—particularly on holy days unrecognized by our society’s standard Gregorian calendar, or that don’t fall on a Sunday or even on the same day every year. Now public employees may take two unpaid holidays per calendar year for reasons of faith or conscience. It costs nothing, because the holidays are unpaid, and it places no requirements on private employers. At the same time, students may be excused from school for reasons of faith or conscience for up to two days, subject to the approval of their parents.
—Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D) 11th Legislative District