Inslee's approval means STEP Project will move forward - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Inslee's approval means STEP Project will move forward

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AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. -

On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced his concurrence with the U.S. Department of Interior's decision to grant the Spokane Tribe of Indians the authority to build and operate a gaming facility in Airway Heights. 

The project, known as STEP, was approved in June 2015 from the Department of Interior, which concluded the gaming facility is in the "best interest of the tribe and would not be detrimental to the surrounding community," in particular, Fairchild Air Force Base. Federal law requires Inslee to concur with the Department of Interior's decision, which he did on Wednesday. 

According to a press release issued by Inslee, he based his decision on "a year of extensive legal review and discussions with multiple tribal governments, state and local authorities, federal officials, U.S. Air Force leaders and business and community groups."

“This is not a simple situation with an easy, clear-cut answer,” Inslee said in a release. “I wanted to be sure to fully understand all perspectives on this issue before making a decision. All sides have very compelling arguments in favor of and against this proposal. After much consideration, I decided that allowing the Spokane Tribe to develop on its federally recognized land was both fair and appropriate under the federal legal requirements.“

Inslee also argued that substantial evidence demonstrated the STEP project will generate significant economic benefit in the region, create thousands of jobs during construction and operation, and generate millions of dollars in wages and state and local taxes.

Inslee’s concurrence means the Spokane Tribe can begin developing the STEP facility. The tribe already has a gaming compact with the state that governs the size and scope of operations at the facility. 

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