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The latest stories from Spokane Public Radio and the Northwest News Network.

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Today on the Inland Journal podcast, I talk with my colleague Steve Jackson about tonight’s [Wednesday’s] SPR public forum on homelessness at Spokane City Hall. Steve is the host. There are lots of people involved in the discussion so he has put together two panels. They’ll talk about providing services to homeless people, but they’ll also talk about affordable housing for low-income people and efforts to create more of it. Also, we’ll hear about how food pantries are used to feed hungry students at Eastern Washington University.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

A very small percentage of the people who work as health professionals in the U.S. identify as Native American; one-half of one-percent of registered nurses. It’s about the same percentage for Native physicians.

At Washington State University Spokane, Dr. Naomi Bender is trying to boost those numbers.

Bender recently came to Spokane from the University of North Dakota’s Indians Into Medicine program. She says that program is one of the most successful in the nation at training Native students for medical and other health careers.

Cryptocurrency companies in Central Washington were left to wait in suspense on Tuesday after they asked a federal judge in Spokane to block an imminent, targeted electric rate increase. The energy-intensive data center operators claim they would be crippled by the Grant County Public Utility District rate hike. The utility says the case is without merit.

A legal case involving the Yakama Nation and Washington state taxes that started in 2013 came to an end Tuesday with a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Food Insecurity At Eastern Washington University

18 hours ago
Jeremy Burnham

Many students attending American colleges and universities are chronically hungry. NPR reported on that in January, citing a government report that looked at 31 studies. It estimated that a third of college students regularly don't get enough to eat.

Those numbers are similar to the situation at Eastern Washington University, where students are taking finals.

A Tri-Cities man who has been a frequent online critic of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said he was blocked this month from commenting on Inslee's campaign Facebook page. The move comes as Inslee, a Democrat, launches his candidacy for president and his campaign says its working to make his Facebook page "a little less toxic."

Warmer Weather Starts, Moderates Snow Melt

Mar 18, 2019
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Weather forecasters say the conditions are right for an orderly snowmelt in the Inland Northwest, both in the urban areas and up in the mountains.

National Weather Service forecaster Greg Koch says the prediction is for dry weather this week and temperatures in the 50s, even 60s, in the lower elevations.

“We need to lose that low elevation snowpack here in the next couple of weeks so we can make room in our rivers and streams for the snow that’s going to come off the mountains in April, May and into early June," Koch said.

Idaho Initiative Bill Held In Committee For Now

Mar 15, 2019
State of Idaho

An Idaho Senate committee has voted to hold a bill that would make it more difficult to put a citizen initiative on a statewide ballot.

The Senate State Affairs Committee took testimony from more than 50 people this morning [Friday] in a continuation of a hearing that began on Monday.

Inland Journal, March 15, 2019: Outdoor Burning

Mar 15, 2019
U.S. Forest Service

Friday on the Inland Journal podcast, as temperatures slowly warm back to the seasonal norms, people can start finally to think about spring. The time for outdoor burning is still at least a few weeks away here in our area, but in southern Idaho, regulators expect to allow farmers to torch their fields as early as this week. We’ll talk with Mark Boyle, the head of the Idaho state smoke management program, about field burning.

The options to share your fandom or your love of nature through your car license plate keep growing in Oregon and Washington. But not all license plate ideas go down smoothly: A proposed Washington wine country license plate, like Oregon already offers, drew some whining at the state legislature this week.