Washington State House Democrats


Lekanoff law for inclusive religious practice in state agencies signed by governor

OLYMPIA – On Tuesday, April 23, Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation making religious practice more inclusive for people under the care of state institutions.

Currently, chaplains serve the religious needs for all people under state custody, however, the title is not inclusive of all faiths. House Bill 1485 changes the employee title of “chaplain” to “religious coordinator,” in state agencies, including the Department of Corrections, Department of Children, Youth and Families and Department of Social and Health Service.

“This legislation respects all faiths and religions. This is about letting people heal from trauma in the way that works best for their religious practice,” said bill sponsor Rep. Debra Lekanoff, D-Bow.

“We are taking a huge step forward for the people we care for in our state institutions with this legislation. I was happy to see this pass into law,” said Department of Corrections Secretary Stephen Sinclair.

“The Jewish community stands strongly behind this bill. Jewish people, and other religious minorities, still face many barriers, so this is a great start at making our institutions more diverse and accessible. I was glad to see this pass,” said Rabbi Seth Goldstein.

This was Lekanoff’s first bill signed by the governor.

The legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on April 28.