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Human rights group asks police for transparency on military equipment

Spokane's Human Rights Commission has requested the Spokane Police Department do more to inform the public on the military-grade equipment it buys.

In a letter dated Monday, Blaine Stum, chairman of the five-member city commission tasked with battling "unjust discrimination" in the community, asks Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub to open up about weapons, gear and vehicles ordered in part through a federal grant program that has gained increased scrutiny since the response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, over the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager.

"While we understand the need not to publicly advertise the equipment and weapons available for their use in protecting the community, we recommend that the Spokane Police Department be more transparent in providing information" on military gear ordered, Stum writes on behalf of his group.

The letter from the Human Rights Commission can be read in its entirety here. For more of the group's recommendations, go inside the blog.

Solon Opposes Human Rights $$$ Cut

As JFAC set the budget for the state Department of Labor this morning, Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, raised concerns about the continuing inclusion in that budget of a “general fund phase-out” for the Idaho Human Rights Commission, cutting state general funds to that agency by $156,600 next year for the third straight year; after four years, the commission would have no general funds. The money is being replaced with dedicated funds, including federal funds, from the Department of Labor/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Should the Human Rights Commission be funded by the state's general fund?

Washington House approves bill making breastfeeding in public a civil right…

Washington’s state House of Representatives today approved House Bill 1596, which would declare that a mother’s right to breastfeed in public places is a civil right protected by the state’s anti-discrimination law.

Mothers would be free to breastfeed in any public place, including restaurants, stores, malls, parks, libraries and government offices.

There is already a law on the books protecting the mothers from being charged with indecent exposure. HB 1596 would allow anyone discriminated against to file a complaint with the state’s Human Rights Commission.

“I really think that we will jumpstart a culture change,” said prime sponsor Rep. Tami Green, D-Lakewood. She said she hopes people see breastfeeding as healthy and natural, not as anything sexual.

“A mom should really feel as comfortable sitting down to breastfeed as she would sitting down and pulling a bottle out of her diaper bag,” said Green.

Study after study has demonstrated the benefits to babies and mothers of breastfeeding, said Rep. Mike Armstrong, R-Wenatchee.

The bill passed unanimously.

“Unfortunately, we have to legislate common sense,” said Armstrong.