Spokane Valley Online
The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA
2019 (part 1)

12/27/2019

By MIKE HUFFMAN
Managing Editor

This is the first part of a two-part review on the notable stories and events of 2019. The second part will appear next week.

January
A proposed law requested by State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the Department of Health would raise the minimum legal age of sales for tobacco and vapor products from 18 to 21.
Spokane Regional Health District and Panhandle Health District recently saw an increase in influenza hospitalizations and deaths, prompting hospital and public health officials to issue this reminder to get vaccinated.

Gov. Jay Inslee proposed a $54.4 billion state budget that would introduce a capital gains tax on stocks, bonds and other assets.
The proposal would tax capital gains of over $25,000 for individuals and $50,000 for joint filers at a rate of 9 percent.

A bill proposed by Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, would allow marijuana on school campuses for students who require aid for medical conditions. HB 1060 aimed to permit students to consume medical marijuana on school property, aboard buses and while attending school-sponsored events.

Spokane Valley had a new event to look forward to as the weather warmed up. Beginning in early June, a farmers market was open on Friday evenings. The 2019 Spokane Valley Farmers Market took place every Friday night, from June 7 through Sept. 13, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the CenterPlace Regional Event Center, 2426 N. Discovery Place, parking lot near the Discovery Playground. Food was also available from local food trucks along with live music.


February
A bill sponsored by Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, was intended to end dwarf-tossing contests at bars and strip clubs across the state – and end a most-unsporting activity that demeans and exploits those of small stature. Senate Bill 5486 would ban dwarf-tossing contests and promotions as well as any other “recreational activity involving exploitation that endangers the health, safety and welfare of any person with dwarfism.”
The Spokane Valley Fire Department invited to other fire/police/EMS agencies to attend the memorial services for Capt. Tim Cruger on Feb. 9. Cruger's ceremony was performed with full Line of Duty Death honors by the Spokane Valley Fire Department and IAFF Local 876.

Legislation proposed on the last day of January was an attempt to largely exempt state legislators from the Public Records Act according to the attorney who led the fight against a similar bill last year.

Lawmakers pushed for a bill to allow year-round observation of daylight saving time in the state of Washington, with the intention of the practice spreading throughout the country.
Spokane Valley voters had always been largely supportive of its fire department, and they showed it again on Tuesday. Voters said “yes” by 74 percent to special levy that will help pay for a new fire station on Barker Road, salaries, equipment, fire engines and other projects for the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

The state attorney general stepped in with a warning to more than half the state’s county law enforcement officials who say they refuse to fully enforce the gun control measures voters approved in November. Police chiefs and sheriffs would be held liable if they refuse to perform background checks required by I-1639, said Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Representative Matt Shea, R-Spokane, was greeted by a few dozen constituents in support of Second Amendment rights and his proposal to split Washington along the Cascades and create a 51st state to the east called Liberty. Supporters trekked across the state on snowy roads to hear speeches in Olympia from legislators, a domestic violence survivor and a former prosecutor.


March
Another major sentencing error at the state Department of Corrections prompted frustration from Senate Republicans who urged sweeping reforms for the agency in the wake of the last one. Sens. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, and Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, said they were stunned to learn of a second major computer error so soon after Corrections officials and the governor’s office proclaimed the problem solved.

The Senate and House transportation committees heard public testimony Tuesday on Tim Eyman’s “Bring Back Our $30 Car Tabs” initiative. The Legislature has the option to propose an alternative to the initiative which would appear alongside the initiative on the 2019 ballot. Eyman was the only person to testify in support of Initiative 976, in both the House and Senate.

One might think that pitching a proposed “Winterfest” in Spokane Valley would get a chilly reception, considering that several inches of the white stuff sit on the ground as mid-March approaches. But the proposal sparked enthusiasm for more study from the Spokane Valley City Council on Tuesday night. “I think it’s a great idea,” said Council Member Brandi Peetz.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced he was seeking the presidency of the United States in a video focused on climate change posted on his Facebook page.

The art of efficiency is having things down in writing, and the Spokane Valley City Council followed through with that philosophy by ratifying a contract with the local arts council. The idea, said City Attorney Cary Driskell, wass to formally ratify the arrangement that the Spokane Valley Arts Council and city have employed for years.

Two civil rights lawsuits in Washington state were challenged the constitutionality of certain bans enacted through the gun control measure, Initiative 1639. Each lawsuit was built on the premise that the initiative deprives plaintiffs of rights under the Second and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution.

The state Senate passed a bill allowing children’s statements outside of court proceedings to be utilized in prosecution of human-trafficking cases, a measure its sponsor says will help spare victims additional trauma.

A bill prohibiting discrimination against the developmentally disabled for organ transplants cleared the state Senate on a unanimous vote.

Senate Bill 5405, sponsored by Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, moved to the House for further consideration.
Influenza activity was high across the state and the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths have increased sharply over the past several weeks, according to health officials at the Washington state Department of Health.

Voter-approved school levy lid rates would rise from $1.50 to $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed property, under Senate Bill 5313, under consideration in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Voter-approved school levy lid rates would rise from $1.50 to $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed property, under Senate Bill 5313, currently under consideration in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The measure would also add a hold-harmless provision for school districts that would receive less in funding assistance from the state and would allow school districts to raise additional funds through levies needed for extracurricular programs and activities that many say are currently being cut.

Influenza activity is high across the state and the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths have increased sharply over the past several weeks, according to health officials at the Washington state Department of Health.

April
Large bags of Meow Mix and dozens of brands of canned cat food could be found adjacent to the entryway of the Spokane County Regional Animal Shelter. The response was commendable – “We are blown away by the generosity of our community,” read the response on SCRAPS’ Facebook page – after the seizure of 43 cats found in “decrepit conditions” in a west Spokane Valley home.

As of April 1, the Liberty Lake Municipal Library went fine free. This means that there would no longer be any overdue fines for items checked out from the library.  Library officials explained the fine-free move as being good for the community and supporting the library’s mission of enriching lives and building community. The library’s goal wass to make it as easy as possible for everyone to enjoy the materials and services it offers.

The state Senate passed an amended version of the operating budget totalling $52.5 billion for the next biennium with 31 in favor and 17 opposed. With more than 40 amendments discussed on the floor, debate over the operating budget took longer than four hours late April 4. In the end, three Republicans joined the majority in voting to pass the amended version.

Legislation to make daylight saving time the year-round standard passed the Senate Tuesday evening in a bipartisan 46-2 vote.  The bill would put Washington on Pacific Daylight Time year-round, pending approval of Congress.

A bill making it easier to prosecute human trafficking crimes against children was approved by the Washington state House and sent to the governor’s office to be signed into law. Senate Bill 5885, sponsored by Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, allows out-of-court statements from children to be used in the prosecution of human trafficking cases. The measure applies to children under age 16.

The Washington House of Representatives concurred with Senate amendments on to remove the personal exemption to the measles vaccine and send the legislation to Gov. Jay Inslee, who was expected to sign the bill into law.

May
Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said  he would try again in 2020 to pass a bill that would send more repeat impaired drivers to prison, after a disappointing failure in the final hours of the 2019 legislative session. House Bill 1504 would have extended the “look-back” in DUI cases, allowing courts to consider convictions within the last 15 years when issuing sentences.

School resource officers, threat assessments and statewide school safety best practices are all topics of proposed legislation this year, however, none of the five bills were scheduled for further hearings that could lead to a vote.

The August primary election buffet table was set, and there were plenty of choices. After filing week ended May 17, three spots on the Spokane Valley City Council saw plenty of interest. But in one – Position 6 – incumbent Sam Wood did not refile. Tim Hattenburg, Shaun Stanfield, Pat Stretch and Bo Tucker sought to fill his seat on the council.

Brandi Peetz, the incumbent in Position 2, would face challenges from Michelle Rasmussen and Rocky Samson. Arne Woodard, who currently holds the Position 3 seat, would have to deal with Lance Gurel, Albert Merkel and Adam Smith.

June
Spokane Valley Police responded to a residential burglary call where it was reported a male, armed with a handgun, forced his way into a residence. The man apparently believed his grandson, a reported runaway, was inside, said Cpl. Mark Gregory, police spokesman. During a struggle with one of the residents of the home, a shot was fired from the handgun but no one was injured.

5th District Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers announced the approval of a $1.25 million grant from the Department of Transportation for the Spokane Valley Pines Road/BNSF Grade Separation Project. “This project will revitalize the Pines Road area by attracting new businesses and improving the flow of vehicle and train traffic, bringing an estimated $1.3 billion in total economic output. Congratulations to the city of Spokane Valley,” she said. “This grant is a testament to a commitment to improving our community for generations to come.”

A Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy was fired June 13 following an internal investigation that found he discussed killing black people, used racial slurs and sexually harassed a female colleague. The 18-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, Sgt. Jeff Thurman, allegedly contacted an on-duty deputy while off-duty in December 2016 and said, “You ready to kill some (racial slur) tonight?” Thurman worked in Spokane Valley. His comments were said over Bluetooth speaker and heard by multiple deputies, according to the sheriff’s office.

 
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