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Commercial cattle trucks that enter Washington’s Pend Oreille and Spokane counties from Idaho will be required to stop at a port of entry for inspection or face a $1,000 fine, under a bill signed today by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, who sponsored House Bill 1922, says hundreds of Canadian cattle trucks enter Washington weekly from the Idaho border. Many, he says, have been avoiding the Interstate 90 port of entry inspection station east of Spokane by taking Highway 290 north of I-90. There is no port of entry station at the Highway 290 entrance.

“Highway 290, which becomes East Trent Avenue through the Spokane Valley, was not built to handle these heavy trucks. The high volume of these trucks is not only causing damage to the highway, but creating dangerous congestion for local traffic,” said Shea. “I’m also concerned if Canadian cattle truck operators are avoiding port of entry inspections, we have no way of knowing whether sick animals are being transported into our state. That creates potential risks for our food supply.”

Shea noted the first U.S. case of mad cow disease was discovered in 2003 in Washington. It involved an infected Holstein cow at a Mabton dairy farm that had been transported to Washington from Canada.

Under the bill, commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 40,000 pounds or more and transporting cattle will be required to stop at a port of entry. The law applies only to Pend Oreille and Spokane counties. Fines collected from violators would be placed into the state Motor Vehicle Fund to be used for road maintenance purposes.

“This is a great bill because it will reduce truck traffic and wear-and-tear on Highway 290, plus it will ensure inspections of incoming cattle to keep our food supply safe,” Shea concluded.

The legislation requires the Washington State Patrol to provide a one-time written notification of the new law to affected carriers known to have previously entered the state from Idaho.

The measure passed the House and Senate with unanimous approval. It becomes effective July 22.

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CONTACT: John Sattgast, Senior Information Officer: (360) 786-7257

PHOTO:  Rep. Matt Shea observes as Gov. Chris Gregoire signs House Bill 1922. The measure requires cattle trucks entering Spokane and Pend Oreille counties from the Idaho border to stop at a port of entry inspection station or face a $1,000 fine.

PHOTO:  Rep. Matt Shea observes as Gov. Chris Gregoire signs House Bill 1922. The measure requires cattle trucks entering Spokane and Pend Oreille counties from the Idaho border to stop at a port of entry inspection station or face a $1,000 fine.