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Briefs: Senate passes disclosure law

The Idaho Senate voted unanimously Thursday in favor of Senate Bill 1156, the bipartisan legislation to expand Idaho’s Sunshine Law to add personal financial disclosure requirements for elected officials and candidates.

Idaho is currently one of just three states with no such requirements. Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, told the Senate that the governor supports the bill and helped craft it.

Senate Minority Leader Kate Kelly, D-Boise, told the Senate, “The people we represent deserve to know if we have a conflict of interest as we fulfill our public duties.”

The bill now moves to the House.

Silver Valley

Sewer districts ask for extension

Two Silver Valley sewer districts are having trouble meeting Idaho’s limits on metals discharged into the Coeur d’Alene River. Both districts are asking for a five-year variance from the standards.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has scheduled a public hearing on the issue at 6:30 p.m. April 22, at the Kellogg Middle School Library, 810 Bunker Ave., Kellogg.

The variance was requested by the city of Smelterville for its treatment facility and the South Fork Coeur d’Alene River Sewer District for its Page and Mullan plants. Both districts have old sewer lines, allowing metals-rich groundwater to seep into the lines, said Barry Burnell, DEQ’s water quality division administrator.

The treated water discharged into the Coeur d’Alene River is cleaner than the river itself but still exceeds standards for cadmium, lead and zinc, Burnell said.

The South Fork Coeur d’Alene River Sewer District is making gradual improvements to its system to address the infiltration problem, Ross Stout, the manager, wrote in a letter to DEQ. Requiring an immediate solution would put a heavy burden on the sewer district’s clients, potentially increasing rates by $932 per year per household, he wrote.


Patrol emphasizes child safety seats

Make sure children are securely fastened today in order to avoid a possible citation.

Spokane police will be out 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. looking for child passenger safety seat violations, said Spokane police Officer Teresa Fuller.

The emphasis began last week. So far, police have issued 16 citations for child passenger safety seat violations, 16 seat belt citations, and about 165 other tickets that include no insurance, driving with a suspended license and speeding, Fuller said.

In addition to enforcing traffic safety laws, officers will also offer education to parents about child safety seats.


Border patrol makes huge haul

U.S. Border Patrol agents have seized 200,000 Ecstasy pills valued at around $2.5 million near Sumas, Wash.

On a tip, Border agents located on Wednesday a trail being used by smugglers coming from Canada and found footprints that led them to a pair of duffel bags filled with pills. Agents found evidence that up to four individuals used the trail and indications that the suspects had returned to Canada, according to the agency.

The two bags found weighed 126 pounds.

Last week, agents also seized Ecstasy pills valued at more than $2.5 million and 140 pounds of marijuana with a value of $720,000.

East Wenatchee

NW landfills may take Canada waste

Some 500,000 tons of Canadian garbage a year could go to a Northwest landfill if the landfill operator and a Canadian waste group agree on a deal.

Metro Vancouver says it’s going to be forced to send garbage to U.S. landfills because its own regional landfill in Cache Creek, British Columbia, will reach capacity by the end of 2010.

Ken Gimpel, a spokesman for Waste Management’s Spokane region, says his company could either accept the waste at its Wenatchee-area landfill or its Columbia Ridge landfill in Arlington, Ore.

The Wenatchee landfill currently accepts about 300,000 tons of waste a year. An agreement with Metro Vancouver would more than double the amount of garbage that goes there.

In order to send waste internationally, Metro Vancouver would have to make an amendment to its bylaws because it does not have a strategy in place to send waste across the border.

The Canadian group is currently holding public meetings on the proposal.


Backcountry mail route canceled

The U.S. Postal Service is canceling a contract with backcountry pilot Ray Arnold, ending the air mail route to more than 20 ranches in the Frank Church-River of No Return wilderness.

Arnold flies the only backcountry air mail route remaining in the lower 48 states, and residents on his route are asking Idaho’s congressional delegation to step in and urge the Postal Service to renew the $46,000 contract.

Arnold, who has held the contract for 34 years, says Postal Service officials don’t understand why the mail can’t be delivered in other ways. But many of the ranches in the more than 2-million-acre wilderness area are 60 or more miles from the nearest road.

In addition to delivering the mail, Arnold flies in perishable food and other supplies to the residents.


Horizon Air close to airport deal

Snohomish County and Horizon Air officials could reach an agreement by May that would allow the airline to operate from Paine Field.

The Herald of Everett reports environmental obstacles could be cleared by the fall, potentially paving the way for flights to commence.

Deputy County Executive Peter Camp said the county expects a draft of an agreement with one of the two airlines interested using the airport by May, including Horizon and Allegiant Air of Las Vegas.

Horizon has said it would offer two daily flights to Spokane and up to four to Portland.

Several cities in the county oppose commercial flights out of Paine Field. Mukilteo Mayor Joe Marine said his city will use the environmental review to prevent the flights.

From staff and wire reports


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