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As Washington moves forward on a new law to expand Spokane County’s board of commissioners from three members to five, the county is pushing back, with a lawsuit planned to block the expansion.
Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said he’s joined the agency overseeing the region’s air pollution in direct response to new regulations and fees for marijuana business owners. Spokane County Commissioner Al French said the board’s actions aren’t partisan or designed to destroy the nascent industry.
The bill would take effect in 2022 and would add two members to the Spokane County Commission. It’s received bipartisan support in Olympia and the city of Spokane, but current county commissioners argue voters already nixed expansion in a decisive vote at the ballot box more than two years ago.
Dozens of marijuana farmers in Spokane County will have to pay fees ranging from $500 to $2,000 this year to cover the expenses of enforcing state laws governing nuisance smells. Several small farmers call the fees unfair, and say they could drive members of a fledgling industry out of business amid a potential further crackdown at the federal level.
Some agencies and departments that receive funding from Spokane County avoided steep cuts in 2018. The Spokane County Regional Health District isn’t one of them.
Commissioners Al French and Mary Kuney voted in favor of the spending plan, which will use money set aside from the road construction budget to cover day-to-day expenses next year for the first time. Commissioner Josh Kerns voted against, saying the county should have taken a deeper look at where it could cut funding.