An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Today's Headlines: July 9, 2024

Spokane City Council passes new gun regulations

The Spokane City Council has adopted new rules that govern gun carrying and discharges within city limits.

The council voted 5-2 to prohibit gun owners from openly displaying their firearms in city-run buildings such as libraries and community centers. The ordinance also forbids people from firing their weapons within the city, except at city-licensed gun ranges.

Councilmembers Jonathan Bingle and Michael Cathcart cast the ‘no’ votes.

"I appreciate the intention of wanting to make Spokane a safer place. I believe that that is Councilmember Dillon’s intention here, which is to make Spokane a safer place and I appreciate that, that premise," Bingle said. "I think that this fails. I think it’s a miss and I actually think it’s going to make us less safe.”

Bingle and the ordinance’s lead sponsor, Paul Dillon, disagree about the effectiveness of strong gun regulations. Bingle believes the new rules will have little effect on public safety. Dillon says research shows cities and states with more restrictions see lower rates of gun violence.

The bill will also allow police to confiscate weapons and ammunition and destroy them or use them for training.

Brown proposes revised community safety levy

Spokane Mayor Lisa Brown will ask the city council to place a revised revenue proposal on the November ballot.

The community safety levy is a slimmed-down version of a much larger recommendation the Brown administration backed this spring. The city council voted to pull the $38 million property tax hike from the ballot in early May, at Brown’s request. At the time, Spokane City Council President Betsy Wilkerson said doubts and questions among the council and the public influenced the deferral.

The new version has the same goal – directing money to police, fire and safety services – but has a smaller scope and a different path. Rather than the property tax hike that served as the foundation of the original proposal, the new strategy would impose a one-tenth of one percent sales tax that would generate roughly $6.5 million annually.

The sales tax would not apply to food or prescription medications. In a conversation with SPR News, Brown underscored the sales tax would be paid not only by Spokane residents, but people who visit or pass through the city.

“This will allow us to make investments in neighborhood resource officers, traffic safety and fire equipment,” Brown said.

Spokane’s seven-member city council will consider the levy request and decide whether or not to place it before voters.

“We have been in conversation [with the council] about the need to both balance the budget from the structural deficit we inherited, but also make some of these key safety investments,” Brown said.

Assuming voters approve the levy request, its revenues won’t be enough to totally close the city’s estimated $50 million budget deficit. Brown said cuts may be needed. Her office has asked city departments to identify reductions of up to 10 percent. The city may also incentivize police officers who qualify for retirement to do so, opening positions for less-senior officers whose paychecks are typically smaller.

Potentially dangerous heat continues through midweek

The heat wave that began this past weekend continues to bake the Inland Northwest — and forecasters say it hasn’t hit its peak.

With triple-digit highs forecast today and Wednesday, Spokane is predicted to break record high temperatures set in the 1970s and ‘80s.

The peak temperatures vary across the region this week, but Tuesday and Wednesday are supposed to be the hottest no matter where you are.

Spokane National Weather Service meteorologist Charlotte Dewey said everyone needs to be careful.

“No matter what the high temperature is, it's going to affect everyone to some degree,” Dewey said. “So if you don't have cooling, if you don't have hydration, you're going to be impacted the most. So we encourage everybody to find a way to get cooling relief and get some hydration.”

An excessive heat warning for much of eastern Washington lasts until Wednesday night.

Temperatures are predicted to ease slightly Thursday and Friday, but only into the 90s.

FAFSA help coming to Coeur d’Alene

The Idaho Board of Education’s summer FAFSA road trip arrives in Coeur d’Alene today.

Families and students looking for help to complete the college financial aid form can stop by North Idaho College’s Lee Kildow Hall, Room 124, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Admissions and career advisors and financial aid experts will help students and their families understand and fill out FAFSA forms.

The FAFSA road trip was largely prompted by the messy rollout of a simpler form this year. Completion nationwide is lagging behind previous years. Jenni Kimball, College and Career Advising Program Manager for the state board, said FAFSA completion among Idaho high school seniors is 11 percent lower than at this time last year.

“It really became this kind of urgent situation,” Kimball told SPR News. “Normally, we wouldn’t really be working on FAFSA over the summer; we would be doing that in the spring. [But this year] we needed to do something different to help students and families complete the form.”

Parents and students don’t need to bring financial records to the NIC event, Kimball said, but they do need to know their Social Security numbers. By the time they leave, their FAFSA form will be done and submitted.

“Then the college or university where that student plans to attend will get the information and develop a financial aid package for that student,” Kimball said. “It helps the student and the family understand what they’re eligible for and what money they can receive.”

A second stop in Coeur d’Alene is planned for Thursday evening at the city’s public library. Help will be available from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.

WA Dems split on Biden's candidacy

Washington Democrats continue to offer opinions on whether President Joe Biden should remain in the race for the White House.

One of the Democratic candidates for eastern Washington’s seat in the House of Representatives, Dr. Bernadine Bank, acknowledged the good things Biden has done in office but called on him to step aside.

She said in a statement, “This isn’t just about what’s good for the party. We have to consider what is best for the country.”

The state’s senior senator, Patty Murray, didn’t go as far as Bank, but she did call for Biden to do more to prove his capability to the American people.

In a statement, Murray said the president needed to do a better job of making a case for himself — and against former president Donald Trump.

- - -

Reporting was contributed by Brandon Hollingsworth, Owen Henderson and Doug Nadvornick.