In brief: Bill would expand local tax powers

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 17, 2010

OLYMPIA – Cities and counties in Washington would be able to raise taxes to help pay for services under a bill that passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Described as a way to give local governments more flexibility by supporters and a massive tax increase by opponents, House Bill 3179 expands the use of several taxes, including those on gambling and those set aside for criminal justice. It adds “human services” to the list of uses for money from a tax imposed for criminal justice or public safety.

State Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, called the proposal a bad bill made slightly better by several amendments, including one he sponsored that prohibits tax money collected for tourism purposes from being siphoned off for other uses.

The bill passed 51-47 and goes to the Senate. Spokane-area legislators voting yes included Reps. Timm Ormsby and Alex Wood, both D; voting no included Republican Reps. Larry Crouse, Susan Fagan, Parker, Matt Shea and Shelly Short, and Democrat John Driscoll.

Running Start meeting tonight

Spokane-area high school students and families interested in learning about the Running Start program are invited to attend an information session tonight.

The event will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Lewis and Clark High School auditorium, 521 W. Fourth Ave.

Representatives from Community Colleges of Spokane, Eastern Washington University and Spokane Public Schools will answer questions.

Running Start allows students to earn high school and college credit simultaneously. Tuition is paid by the state.

Woman burned in space-heater fire

A Post Falls woman suffered burns on her leg, feet, arm and hands early Tuesday when she attempted to put out a bedding fire started by a space heater, fire officials said.

Another occupant in the rental home at 1530 N. Lincoln St. used a garden hose to knock down the fire in a basement bedroom, said Jim Lyon, fire information officer for Kootenai County Fire and Rescue.

The woman was taken to Kootenai Medical Center, Lyon said, but he did not provide any other information on her condition.

Nine other occupants, including two children, escaped the blaze along with four dogs, two snakes and a cat.

The 1:19 a.m. fire was confined to the bedroom with minimal damage to the house, Lyon said.

It was the third fire involving space heaters in the Kootenai County fire district in recent months, Lyon said. He cautioned that space heaters should be kept at least three feet from combustible materials.


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