Juneteenth and Native American Heritage Day proposed as Hoquiam holidays

The City of Hoquiam will draft an ordinance to make changes to holidays within the city, at the behest of the City Council.

On Monday, Councilmember Steven Puvogel made a motion to have staff draft an ordinance to change the holidays reflected within the city code to add June 19th, or Juneteenth, as well as change the day after Thanksgiving to officially be celebrated as Native American Heritage Day.

The motion was not unanimous with multiple councilmembers voting against the adjustment.

The change to recognize Juneteenth in Hoquiam had been brought forward at a previous meeting and this latest request follows the action of the Washington state Legislature who recently passed a measure that makes Juneteenth a legal state holiday. 

Puvogel said at the meeting that no matter what the city does, the state action already impacts them.

The measure making June 19 a state paid holiday passed the Democratic-led Senate on a bipartisan 47-1 vote and now heads to Gov. Inslee for his signature. 

The House passed the measure in February on an 89 -9 vote. 

Juneteenth 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.

Approval for the change would come after the ordinance returns to the City Council at a future meeting.