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Calling it a "moral mandate," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, signed a dozen bills into law on Tuesday that backers hope will improve policing in the state, reduce the use of deadly force and ensure that when deadly encounters do occur, the investigations are thorough and independent.

"These bills are all going to work in coordination with one another to create a system of accountability and integrity stronger than anywhere else in the nation," Inslee said in remarks before he signed the bills.

Calling it a "moral mandate,” Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday signed into law a dozen bills that backers hope will improve policing in Washington, reduce the use of deadly force and ensure that when deadly encounters do occur the investigations are thorough and independent.

"These bills are all going to work in coordination with one another to create a system of accountability and integrity stronger than anywhere else in the nation," Inslee said in remarks before he signed the bills.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Washington’s Liquor and Cannabis Board has announced a new step aimed at helping the hospitality industry while also promoting Covid vaccinations.

The board announced on Monday that it’s allowing restaurants and bars the option of serving one no-cost alcoholic drink on-site to customers if those customers can prove they’ve received a Covid vaccination.

North Idaho Voters Go To The Polls Tuesday

May 18, 2021
Courtesy of Kootenai County Elections Office

Idaho voters go to the polls today [Tuesday] for a special election on school and special taxing district-related measures.

Two school districts whose supplemental levies failed in March are trying again.

Filing Week For Public Office Opens in Spokane County

May 17, 2021
Rebecca White/SPR

The filing period to run for office in Spokane County opened today and there are nearly 150 elected positions open in Spokane County.

In the first few hours of filing week 41 candidates filed for 33 open positions said Spokane County elections manager Mike McLaughlin. He said that’s likely a small fraction of people expected to file this week.

“We’ll get a lot of people the next Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday night. A lot of people will file, we’ll come to work, get them processed and up on the website.”

Washington Senator Patty Murray Seeking Reelection

May 17, 2021
Screenshot from U.S. Senate livestream

Washington State Senator Patty Murray announced Monday that she is seeking re-election in 2022.

Murray, a Democrat, was first elected to the Senate in 1992 and was Washington’s first woman senator. During her time in the Senate, Murray has focused on family leave and childcare.

Before she was elected to Congress, she was a state senator and a school board member in the north Seattle suburb of Shoreline.

Downtown Spokane Partnership

The United Soccer League, the organization set to become one of the first tenants of the Spokane School District's new downtown stadium, hopes to have a team playing here by spring of 2023.

 

 

United Soccer League’s future in Spokane was contingent on a downtown stadium. Now that the stadium has been approved by the school board, USL leaders say they will follow through on that promise.

 

Courtesy of Post Falls School District

Two north Idaho school districts are taking a second run at school levies that failed in March. The measures will appear on the Tuesday ballot.

Courtesy of Kootenai County Fire District

Idaho voters go to the polls on Tuesday to decide a variety of local measures, from school levies to choosing candidates to sit on the boards of local taxing districts.

In Bonner County, officials are asking voters for about $8.7 million over 10 years to pay for improvements to the county’s solid waste system.

In Kootenai County, the fire district that covers much of the county has its own bond measure.

Rebecca White/SPR

Hundreds of students, the youngest of which just became eligible this week, were vaccinated Friday at the Spokane Public Schools Pfizer immunization clinic.

A wide-ranging proposal to save wild salmon by removing the four Lower Snake River dams may be dead in the water. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Patty Murray say any proposal for the controversial dams needs a “science-based,” “community-driven” approach.

It’s been more than a year since most people in Washington have seen a live music performance. But with Spokane County now in phase three of the state’s reopening protocol, live music has returned to some venues in Spokane.

Inslee: Washington Economy Can Re-Open June 30

May 13, 2021
Courtesy of Governor's Office

Governor Jay Inslee announced Thursday that the economy can fully re-open on June 30, or whenever 70% of the state’s eligible population has had at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

ID Legislature Finishes Its 2021 Session, For Now

May 13, 2021
Idaho Public TV screenshot

The Idaho legislature has adjourned, for now. The Senate is apparently done for the year, but the House has held open the possibility of returning.

Now that the final gavel has fallen, legislators are taking some time to talk about what they’ve done.

Spokane Transit is offering free rides to people who need help getting to a Covid vaccination appointment.

The agency says, from now until June 12, it will offer door-to-door rides as an incentive with a second free ride a few weeks later if the vaccine recipient receives a dose of Pfizer or Moderna.

People who take advantage of this will ride on S-T-A’s paratransit vans. The agency says up to three passengers will be aboard, sitting at least six feet apart. Passengers must wear masks while onboard.

Remembering N. Idaho's 1997 Pertussis Outbreak

May 12, 2021
Courtesy of DeNene Banger and Randi Lustig

Longtime north Idaho residents may recall that, about a generation ago, their region suffered a communicable disease outbreak that has some similarities to our current Covid pandemic.

Two retired public health nurses have just published a book that looks back at that time.

Health Officials Encourage Youth To Get Vaccinated

May 12, 2021
Spokane Regional Health District

As authorization for children over 12 to get vaccinated against the coronavirus nears, health officials urge families to consider getting the vaccine, and for currently eligible 16 and 17-year-olds who are eligible to get vaccinated now.

 

Dr. Gretchen LaSalle, a family physician with Multi-Care said during a Health District briefing Wednesday, that children usually have milder cases of COVID, but that can still lead to long-term impacts.

 

Spokane Regional Health District

A preliminary Washington Board of Health investigation released Tuesday found that Spokane Regional Health District Administrator Amelia Clark likely violated state law when she removed Dr. Bob Lutz from his role as health officer.

Courtesy of Dr. Vin Gupta

A Seattle pulmonary doctor says it may be necessary to tweak Covid vaccine marketing strategies to appeal to the younger people who are now, and will soon be, eligible for shots.

Dr. Vin Gupta will share that message tonight [Wednesday] with a Spokane audience. Gupta is a critical care physician who is on the faculty of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Screenshot from Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry

Today [Wednesday] the Idaho legislature returns to Boise after a five-day break. Lawmakers are close to finishing their 2021 session.

An Idaho business group says it’s time for lawmakers to finally end what is now the longest session in state history.

Idaho Moves To Covid Phase 4

May 11, 2021
Courtesy of State of Idaho

Idaho is moving to the next phase in its coronavirus reopening plan.

The Department of Health and Welfare says the state will move to Stage 4.

Jazz Halfmoon remembers playing the educational video game Oregon Trail as a reward for doing well in her Oregon grade school class.

“It was on a super old computer,” she says. “The green screen was like the only color.”

She says it was really exciting, and the kids would often clamor and fight over who could play the game on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation in northeastern Oregon. 

Covid Vaccine Notes For Younger Patients

May 11, 2021
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Health care providers are preparing for an increased demand for Covid vaccine now that 12-to-15-year-olds are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Schools are among those that are stepping up to fill that demand.

Flickr Creative Commons

The Food and Drug Administration says 12-to-15-year-olds are now eligible to receive Pfizer’s Covid vaccine.

For parents such as Cassie Sauer [sour], the president of the Washington State Hospital Association, the decision about having their children vaccinated is an easy one.

The state of Washington will soon offer an alternative to prison for people with a serious mental illness who commit a crime. Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill into law Monday.

Under the new Mental Health Sentencing Alternative, judges will have the option to sentence a person to community supervision and treatment in lieu of prison.

Courtesy of Pullman Regional Hospital

In about a year, Pullman Regional Hospital will begin training new doctors interested in practicing rural medicine.

The hospital and WSU have earned accreditation for a new medical residency program.

Spokane Chooses New Flag

May 10, 2021
Courtesy of the city of Spokane

The city of Spokane now has a new flag, which replaces an old design the city has used since the 1970s.

The flag was designed by Derek Landers, who is co-founder of Spokane Print and Publishing Studio and a lifelong Spokane resident. The flag has a sun in the top left corner, a river running through it diagonally and strip of lush green.

 

Courtesy of Ferry County Memorial Hospital

The Covid outbreak that hit the small Ferry County town of Republic in April is slowly abating.

The outbreak was triggered by one or more gatherings at a local social club.  

For the first time in a few weeks, administrators at the Ferry County Memorial Hospital say there say they saw no new cases over the weekend.

Gonzaga, WSU Graduations Complete; Whitworth Is Next

May 10, 2021
Screenshot from Whitworth University video

Gonzaga University handed out diplomas over the weekend to law school students, graduates and undergraduates. Washington State honored its health sciences students in Spokane on Thursday and Friday.

Whitworth is next in the commencement queue. Here's what the graduating Pirates can expect during their Covid-influenced ceremony.

For the second time in less than a year, Washington’s Corrections Ombuds (OCO) is warning that the state’s prison system needs to do more to prevent inmate suicides.

In a 15-page investigation released Monday, the OCO found that two inmates died by suicide in 2020 after prison staff failed to recognize signs of mental distress and didn’t follow suicide prevention policies.

“Suicides are preventable. There should be zero, that should be the goal” said Assistant Ombuds Dr. Patricia David, the investigation’s author and the OCO’s Director of Patient Safety and Performance Review.

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