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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Bill to raise I-90 section to 75 mph heads to Inslee

OLYMPIA – A proposal to allow the state Department of Transportation to raise highway speed limits to 75 mph will be decided by Gov. Jay Inslee.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, would authorize the DOT to raise speed limits 5 mph over the current limit on stretches of highway that the department deems safe. It passed the state Senate on Wednesday, 41-7.

“If you’ve ever traveled between Ellensburg and Spokane, I can tell you I think there are places where that would be appropriate,” said Curtis King, R-Yakima.

The bill passed the House on a 78-19 vote last month.

The department and the Traffic Safety Commission raised concerns about increasing the gap between the speed limit for cars and trucks, which still would have a 60-mph limit.

“We know that speeding and impaired driving are the two leading causes of death on our freeways,” said Sen. Mark Liaas, D-Lynnwood.

Senators Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane; Brian Dansel, R-Republic; Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley; and Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, supported the bill. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, voted no.

Chad Sokol

OSHA cuts fine for death at corn maze

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has reduced the fine for the Incredible Corn Maze in Hauser over the death of a worker.

In a settlement agreement, the agency lowered the $14,000 in penalties to $6,000, said David Kearns, area director for OSHA. NW Creative Solutions LLC, which operated the Halloween attraction, agreed to reach out and share information with other industry operators.

“Any hope of preventing another incident like this is probably the best possible outcome of such a terrible tragedy,” Kearns said.

Jeremy T. McSpadden Jr., 18, died Oct. 10 when he was run over by a “zombie slayer” bus that was part of the attraction. McSpadden, a West Valley High School senior, ran up to the bus, tripped and fell under the rear wheel, witnesses told investigators.

OSHA kept McSpadden’s parents informed about the negotiations to reduce the penalty, Kearns said. Also, the company, operated by Greenacres resident Suzie Dunn, told the agency it does not plan to resume the seasonal attraction.

“The decision to cease operations was theirs, and in no part a requirement of OSHA,” Kearns said.

Scott Maben

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