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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Spokane

Governor signs bill ensuring gay rights

The Spokesman-Review

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a gay civil rights bill into law Tuesday, though it may be held in limbo if opponents are successful in forcing a public vote this fall.

The measure adds “sexual orientation” to a state law that bans discrimination in housing, employment, insurance and credit. The amendment to current law, passed by the Legislature on Friday, makes Washington the 17th state passing such laws covering gays and lesbians, and the seventh to protect transgender people.

The law will take effect in June, 90 days after the end of the Legislature’s session, but if initiative promoter Tim Eyman is able to get enough signatures by the June 7 deadline for a referendum, the law will be frozen until a November vote.

County withdraws plan to waive casino’s fine

County commissioners on Tuesday backed away from a controversial proposal to waive a tax penalty accrued last year by Aces Casino.

“There was some misunderstanding as to what we were doing,” said Commissioner Mark Richard, adding he thought it would help a small, struggling business that provides jobs. “To me, the community is built on the back of small businesses. It’s not like I’m helping Enron.”

But community reaction to the proposed relief persuaded Richard to withdraw the plan.

Aces, which moved last summer to Francis Avenue and Division Street, was levied a $7,000 fine after missing its tax payment from July, August and September. It has since paid the $40,000 tax bill, but still owes the fine.

Commissioners lowered the county’s gambling tax from 15 percent to 2 percent effective Oct. 1. The casino blamed its tardiness on cash flow problems it suffered while paying the older, higher tax rate.

Commissioner Phil Harris said he felt waiving the fine would have raised questions of fairness.

“It’s regretful that you tried to do a good deed, and it slapped you upside the head,” Harris told Richard.


Anti-bestiality bill has wide range of support

In a rare show of unanimity, lawmakers and a wide array of interest groups on Tuesday urged passage of a ban on something that many had assumed was already illegal: sex with animals.

“There is literally no opposition to this bill. Whatsoever. Nobody,” said Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 6417 was prompted by the death last year of a man who suffered internal injuries while having sex with a horse in a barn near Enumclaw. A friend, who was videotaping the incident, dropped the man off, near death, at a rural hospital. Since the state’s anti-bestiality laws were thrown out with sodomy laws years ago and never rewritten, police could only charge the friend with trespassing.

The bill also would make it a felony to aid, observe, organize, promote or advertise such acts. Violators would face up to a year in jail.

The bill is supported by an unusually diverse slate of groups, including dairymen, sexual assault victims, evangelicals, children’s advocates, poultry producers, animal rights groups and prosecutors.

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