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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Man found dead from electrocution at metal shop

Compiled from staff reports The Spokesman-Review

A 23-year-old man was electrocuted Friday at a Spokane Valley metal shop.

Jeffrey Leroy Paulson, of Newport, appears to have been working alone on an electrical panel at Northwest Chrome and Hydraulics, 5920 E. Broadway Ave., said Spokane Valley Police spokesman Cpl. Dave Reagan.

He was found about 7:35 p.m. by a female acquaintance who came to give him a ride home, Reagan said.

Paulson was dead when emergency crews arrived, Reagan said. Investigators were uncertain Friday night when the accident occurred. An autopsy likely will be performed on Monday.

A wall of Northwest Chrome and Hydraulics suffered significant damage on July 24 when a neighboring business burned. Northwest has remained in operation, but it appears that the victim may have been working to fix damage that occurred during that blaze, Reagan said. It was unclear if at the time of the accident he was installing a new electrical panel or fixing an existing one.

Paulson had been working at the business for a few weeks, Reagan said.

An Avista Corp. crew responded to the scene to modify the power at the site so emergency personnel could work.

Reagan said police will make sure Paulson died as a result of an accident. An official from the state Department of Labor and Industries also was investigating Friday night.

“This kind of electrical accident is rare,” Reagan said.

35-year-old man arrested on suspicion of raping girl

Spokane Police detectives have arrested a 35-year-old man who is accused of repeatedly raping a girl over a period of nearly two years.

The girl was 13, 14 and 15 years old when the rapes allegedly occurred, between July 2002 and March 2004, police spokesman Dick Cottam wrote in a press statement.

Richard Leon Welty is charged with second- and third-degree rape of a child. He was booked into Spokane County Jail on $100,000 bond.

An investigation continues and additional charges are possible, Cottam reported.

House OKs bill requiring parity for mental health coverage


Health insurance companies would have to cover mental health the same way they cover physical health, under a bill the state House passed Friday.

The mental health bill goes next to the state Senate, where Senate leaders said the mental health bill stands a very good chance of passing in their chamber, as well.

The bill, which passed 67-25 with opposition from some Republicans, would require health plans that offer mental health coverage to offer those benefits at the same level and cost as benefits for medical and surgical services.

“Our goal is provide more people with insurance,” said Rep. John Serben, R-Spokane, who voted against the bill. “Every mandate causes more employers to cancel their coverage.”

Democrats said other states have learned that expanding mental health coverage doesn’t noticeably increase costs. Analysis by the governor’s budget office determined that claims costs in the Uniform Medical Plan for state employees would increase 0.3 percent if the bill becomes law.

“It is time to stop inflicting upon ourselves this insane and artificial distinction between mental health and physical health,” said Rep. Shay Schual-Berke, D-Normandy Park, the bill’s sponsor.

The bill would phase in mental health parity requirements over four years beginning in 2006. It would not cover employees of businesses with fewer than 50 people, self-insured companies such as Boeing, and people who purchase individual plans.

Nothing would stop insurers from dropping mental health benefits altogether, but Schual-Berke said that hasn’t happened in other states.

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