OLYMPIA — The Washington Legislature has passed a measure that makes Juneteenth a legal state holiday.
The measure making June 19 a paid day off for state workers passed the Democratic-led Senate on a bipartisan 47-1 vote and now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature. The House passed the measure in February on an 89 -9 vote.
Juneteenth — also known as Emancipation Day and Freedom Day — commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free in 1865 in Galveston, Texas, where Union soldiers brought them the news two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
In 2007, the Legislature designated Juneteenth as a day of remembrance. South Dakota and Hawaii are the only other states that don’t have some sort of official observance of Juneteenth.
Last year, the Metropolitan King County Council voted to make Juneteenth and Indigenous Peoples’ Day paid holidays for county employees, although Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the second Monday in October, would be a paid holiday contingent on funding being available.
Rep. Melanie Morgan, D-Parkland, was the primary sponsor for House Bill 1016.