Regional News

Senator Patty Murray

Congress is in the midst of debating historic investments into childcare, education and healthcare. President Biden’s Build Back Better Plan faces resistance from Republicans and two senate Democrats, who have argued the package’s initial price tag, around $3 trillion, now $2 trillion, was too high.

Washington Senator Patty Murray says one key piece of the plan, universal preschool and subsidies for childcare, hangs in the balance of those negotiations. She argues childcare is an essential piece to getting the economy back on track.

Flickr Commons

Some homes in Spokane, and throughout the country have language in their deeds forbidding anyone who isn’t white from buying them.

It’s now illegal to enforce those covenants, but often the language is still there.

Yesterday the Washington State Supreme Court heard arguments on whether a homeowner in Spokane is allowed to remove racist language from his deed.

Rebecca White/SPR

Providence Healthcare now has help from 20 military doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists. That assistance, as well as a lower COVID hospitalizations, might allow the provider to address the backlog of canceled elective surgeries.

Courtesy of Zack Zappone and Mike Kish

Spokane is in a housing crisis. Apartment vacancy rates are historically low, and many are priced out of home ownership.

Here’s how candidates for Spokane City Council say they will address Spokane’s housing problem.

Spokane City Council Candidates in every race say they’re concerned by Spokane’s housing issues. Several call for changes to zoning, or ways to promote affordable housing.

WSU fires football coaches for refusal to get Covid vaccine

Oct 18, 2021
Screenshot from Pac-12 Conference

Washington State University head football coach Nick Rolovich has been terminated after failing to comply with the state’s vaccine mandate.

Rolovich, who first started at WSU less than two years ago, had requested a religious exemption.

WSU defensive coordinator Jake Dickert will be elevated to acting head coach, according to a WSU news release.

Four football assistant coaches, Ricky Logo, John Richardson, Craig Stutzmann and Mark Weber have also all been terminated over noncompliance.

Rebecca White/SPR

The panel tasked with dividing Spokane County into five new commissioner districts may be less than a week away from finalizing a compromise.

The group, made up of two Democrats, two Republicans and an independent chair, has clashed over the months long process on how to divide the city of Spokane, and how to handle the West Plains and the South Hill. Their compromise map, tentatively agreed to this afternoon, has two Republican districts and two Democratic districts, the southwest urban end of Spokane will likely be a swing district.

Rebecca White/SPR

As school districts navigate their second year of pandemic-era instruction, school boards of directors are facing escalating hostility.

The increased attention has ranged from more participation at school board meetings, to harassment, to threats and intimidation.

Education leaders are calling for patience and civility.

Debbie Long has served on the Central Valley School Board since 2003. She says in 18 years, she’s presided over contentious issues, but none as divisive as masks and coronavirus vaccinations.

Rebecca White

The community got its first look at Spokane County’s 2022 budget Tuesday.

Revenues for the general fund, which is what the county uses to cover most of the services the public interacts with, are estimated to be higher than last year, about $221 million.

Rebecca White/SPR

City of Spokane water customers who are behind on their bills will have until the end of March to get caught up if a resolution to extend the deadline is approved by the Spokane City Council tonight. 

The moratorium on utility shutoffs and late fees in Washington state expired at the end of September.

Spokane Transit Authority

Spokane’s rapid transit bus project, the City Line, was scheduled to launch in May. Supply chain issues triggered by the pandemic will push the start date back to 2023.

The City Line is designed to operate more like a street care than a traditional bus route. A key component of that plan is new bus stations.

Brandon Rapez-Betty, the director of communications for the Spokane Transit Authority, said the agency needs about 2,000 linear feet of tube steel to build the bus stops along the route.

That material isn’t currently available due to supply chain issues.

Courtesy of Cathy McMorris Rodgers' office

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers has tested positive for the coronavirus.

In a statement released Friday, McMorris Rodgers said she has been vaccinated and had only mild symptoms. She is quarantiningat home. She said both her Eastern Washington offices, and Washington D.C. office will remain open. 

"As I have said for months, I encourage everyone in Eastern Washington to talk to your doctor about getting the vaccine if you haven’t already,” McMorris Rodgers said.

Spokane Public Radio has reached out to her office for further comment.

City of Spokane

The mayor of Spokane has released her proposal for the fiscal 2022 budget. It’s about 11% higher than this year’s budget.

Rebecca White/SPR

Nurses in hospital systems across the country are facing the most stressful time in their careers after treating COVID-19 patients for more than a year. Many are leaving the field, and those who plan to stay are urging people to take basic health precautions.

Spokane Public Radio spoke to several healthcare workers, including two on the front lines in Spokane.

Courtesy of the Federal Food and Drug Administration

Washington State employees and contractors will soon be at a crossroad: get the coronavirus vaccine or lose their jobs.

That mandate was issued by Governor Jay Inslee during a surge in hospitalizations fueled by the Delta variant, and a slowdown in vaccinations.

Monday, Oct. 4 was the last day to get the vaccine in time to meet the governor’s Oct. 18 deadline, if a worker gets the Johnson and Johnson’s single-dose shot.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Despite drought, wind and unusually warm temperatures, all factors for wildfire spread, Spokane County saw less unhealthy air quality than it has in previous years.

Since the beginning of this year air quality in Spokane County has fallen below the unhealthy for some group’s standard on eight separate days.

Lisa Woodard, the spokeswoman for the Spokane Clean Air Agency, said this year is an average of what the area has already seen, and will see in the coming years.

Courtesy of the ZoNE

Northeast Spokane includes one of the lowest income census tracts in the city. A new survey on rent increases found 78% of respondents were worried about staying housed. The survey comes as Spokane County sees historically low vacancy rates, and big rent increases.


The refrain “paper or plastic” will still be heard at your local supermarket, but starting today the plastic bags will be a lot sturdier.

The ban was approved in 2020 by the Washington State Legislature, but its implementation was delayed at the start of the pandemic.


Visiting a Spokane hospital today, Washington Governor Jay Inslee said he was committed to enforcing a mandate that requires state workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The mandate has generated a flood of exemption requests, has drawn protest and is being challenged in court. It’s also led to concerns that some state employees and healthcare workers will walk instead of getting a shot. Inslee said he believes when most people get down to the wire, they will choose the vaccine.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Faith leaders and environmental groups will meet Sunday to raise awareness of a waste repository in North Idaho and the area’s legacy of pollution.

Courtesy of the University of Washington

Tenants in Washington now have an additional 30-day stay from eviction if they’re seeking help for past-due rent after the governor extended the bridge eviction moratorium.

Despite that extension, many could still be at risk of losing their housing due to lack of participation in the state-funded eviction resolution programs.

Idaho Public TV screenshot

Former Idaho State Representative Aaron Von Ehlinger has been arrested on rape charges.

Von Ehlinger was arrested on a warrant in Clayton County, Georgia on Saturday. The warrant was first issued earlier this month after a four-month investigation by the Boise Police Department.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

Idaho school districts have resumed in-person instruction, but many are struggling to stay open to due the rampant spread of the Delta variant and labor shortages.

In a briefing to the Idaho Board of Education, Andy Grover, the executive director of the Idaho School Administrators Association, said eight school staff members have died of COVID-19 this year. He said many workers have also left for hiring bonuses and higher wages in fast food.

Idaho Public TV screenshot

Former Idaho state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger has yet to turn himself in and no arrest has been announced, fifteen days after a warrant was issued on felony rape charges.

Governor Jay Inslee Extends Bridge Eviction Moratorium

Sep 23, 2021

Governor Jay Inslee announced this Thursday he is extending the bridge eviction moratorium until the end of October.

“We did not think it made sense to end the moratorium while we had millions of dollars sitting in our pockets not distributed to these tenants,” Inslee said.

He said he hopes by the end of October, local governments will have had enough time to process applications for rental assistance. 

Under the bridge moratorium, landlords can’t evict tenants if they have applied for rental assistance and and have responded to a request for mediation.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

An anti-abortion church known for holding loud church services outside of Spokane’s Planned Parenthood Clinic will no longer be allowed to protest outside the clinic’s doors after a judge granted a permanent injunction against the group.

Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho argued the group’s noise level was violating a state statute barring people from interfering with or disrupting care at a healthcare facility, according to a news release from the healthcare non-profit. On Wednesday, a judge agreed.

Washington State Department of Agriculture

A new Asian Giant Hornets nest was eradicated this Thursday in northwest Washington.

Asian Giant Hornets are an invasive species that can destroy a honey bee nest in a matter of hours. Nests have been found in Canada, and today’s discovery was the fourth found in Washington.

Karla Salp, a spokesperson for the Washington state Department of Agriculture, said one queen, several worker bees and larva were found in the nest.

“We were able to eradicate the nest before they produced any reproductives that could go on to start new nests,” she said.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

A slate of environmental groups are asking Governor Jay Inslee to appoint new, reform-minded leadership at the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. The requests come in the wake of an audit that recommends cultural changes.

In a letter sent Wednesday, a dozen environmental groups called on Inslee to fill two positions in the nine-member commission that leads the state agency.

Avista Utilities

Fall is normally when utility assistance providers see a wave of requests for help paying winter heat bills.

This year, they expect an even larger barrage starting when Governor Jay Inslee’s moratorium on utility shutoffs expires next week.

Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners Director of Community Action, Carol Weltz, said the non-profit has enough federal aid relief to handle every anticipated request, but said staff can only process so many at a time.

The Spokane Regional Health District is asking the public to stay out of Newman Lake due to a toxic algae bloom.

Toxic algae blooms are caused by warm temperatures, low water levels and phosphorous.

A common source of phosphorous is lawn, or agricultural fertilizers. They can also be caused by overgrowth of invasive aquatic plant species.

Kootenai Health

The entire state of Idaho is now in a crisis standard of care due to a massive increase in COVID-19 cases.

The declaration came after a request from St. Luke’s Healthcare System in Boise. The hospital had surpassed its capacity and delayed most non-life-threatening procedures – including some cancer treatments, says Dr. Jim Souza, the chief physician at St. Luke’s.