Bill enabling Oregon to crack down on child labor heads to Gov. Kotek’s desk
Republican critiques of increased penalties for child labor violations fails to slow momentum. A bill that would empower the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries to pursue and keep penalties against employers who violate the state’s child labor laws has passed both chambers of the Oregon Legislature. House Bill...
WA bill requiring clergy to report child abuse dies in House committee
Committee rejected a compromise with Catholic lobbyists that survivors argued “protects abusers”. Each of the last two years, Washington state lawmakers on both sides have broadly agreed that clergy should be mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. Washington is one of just five states where that’s not required...
WA state wants school districts to keep better track of truant students
Districts say they’re changing practices in effort to keeps kids from falling through the cracks. When Krissy Johnson began studying Washington student attendance six years ago, she noticed a concerning pattern: Districts would often drop kids from their rolls after 20 missed days in a row, right when those students could no longer be counted for state funding.
Oregon House passes bill to fix law that forces state to refund child labor fines
State labor officials say bill would allow investigators to crack down on child labor violations. In 2020, a Ford dealership located in a suburb of Portland settled with the U.S. Department of Labor for nearly $28,000 over reported violations of federal child labor law. Federal investigators had learned that six...
Plans for long-sought Tribal Early Learning Hub collapse three years after Oregon lawmakers mandated its creation
Tribal representatives bank on an early learning success plan to increase services. Three years ago, Valeria Atanacio urged state lawmakers to pass a bill aiming to increase Indigenous families’ access to early learning and child care programs. When the Oregon Legislature embraced the proposal — called the Tribal Early...
Bundy Ranch militant Eric Parker says he’s the driving force behind Idaho bill to narrow definition of ‘terrorism’
Critics argue the legislation “essentially guts” Idaho’s Terrorist Control Act. The 2014 photos, snapped by a Reuters photojournalist, had turned Idaho’s Eric Parker into a kind of legend on the far right: They showed Parker, in body armor and a trucker cap, laying on his belly on the bridge above the Bureau of Land Management’s base camp in Nevada, pointing his semi-automatic rifle through the gap in the concrete toward the federal agents gathered below.
An Indigenous teen in Washington disappeared amid clear signs of danger. It took more than a year before police started investigating
School, police and state CPS officials all received warnings that teen was unsafe. There were no police on the case. No news reporters shoving cameras in family members’ faces. No detectives scavenging for clues. There was only Amythist McCart, a 17-year-old high school senior, riding shotgun in her grandma’s white 2004 Oldsmobile, her grandma at the wheel and her cousin in the back seat.
How local Idaho prosecutors lost the case against Patriot Front’s white nationalist leader
Caught with a “little army” and plans to provoke confrontation at a gay pride event, the white nationalist had his charges dismissed. Nearly two years ago, police in North Idaho had the leader of America’s largest white nationalist group and 30 of his followers unmasked, zip-tied and in custody.
Idaho youth treatment home exposed in InvestigateWest investigation closes down
Advocates express relief but push for greater oversight of facilities statewide. Cornerstone Cottage, the Idaho youth treatment home featured in several recent InvestigateWest articles detailing alleged child abuse and neglect that took place there, has closed. Owner Jim Smidt notified the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare on Jan. 25...
Seattle philanthropists donate $100,000 to support community-focused investigative reporting
While 2023 was an awful year for the news industry at large — with coast-to-coast layoffs hitting everyone from the Washington Post to the Los Angeles Times — it was InvestigateWest’s best year ever. The 14-year-old nonprofit newsroom added two investigative reporters and a full-time development staffer....
WA lawmaker wants to make voting mandatory … sort of?
Sen. Sam Hunt reintroduced a bill to legally require people to vote — but there wouldn’t be any consequences if you don’t. State Sen. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, has introduced a bill to make voting compulsory in Washington. But under Hunt’s legislation, there’d be no punishment for citizens who ignore the requirement.
WA intercepts millions in child support for low-income families
In 2022, the state took over $40 million meant for impoverished children. A bipartisan bill could redirect a portion of future payments to families. Amy Roark logged in to the U.S. Bank app to check the balance on the prepaid debit card where the state delivers her monthly child support payments. Nothing had come through. Roark has two teenagers at home, and at the time – May 2018 – a legal order required one of their fathers to pay Roark $400 a month. State records show the father paid $235 that month, but none of it was deposited in Roark’s account.
Oregon’s labor regulators ask for lawmakers’ help to tackle backlogs
The bottleneck of civil rights and wage claims has decreased, but workers still face long waits for service. When Christina Stephenson was elected Oregon’s labor commissioner in 2022, she stressed the importance of resolving the backlog of wage and civil rights claims as soon as possible. “Especially a person...
WA lawmakers introduce bill requiring clergy to report child abuse, one year after similar bill died over Catholic opposition
Lawmakers hope a compromise will get Catholic lobbyists on board. After failing a year ago, Washington state lawmakers are trying again this session to pass a bill that would make clergy mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect. Senate Bill 6298 would add clergy to the list of mandatory reporters...
Idaho residents still seeing impacts of decades-old nuclear test fallout
‘The fight isn’t over’: Idaho downwinders persist after Congress cuts compensation for them. For nearly two decades, Tona Henderson collected newspaper articles, letters and photographs documenting who in the small town of Emmett, Idaho, was diagnosed with cancer, including her own family. The result is a wall in her home covered in pictures and pages displaying the names of community members who may have been exposed to lethal radiation during the country’s Cold War-era nuclear weapons testing program.
The failed promise of independent election mapmaking in WA
In Washington and other states, independent redistricting commissions have fallen prey to partisanship, just like the legislative bodies they were meant to replace. Washington state’s mapmakers had been working for almost a year to draw the lines that would shape the state’s elections for the next decade. Now they had five hours until the midnight deadline and they’d made little progress.
Ending practice of bunking Oregon foster children in hotels will require widespread reforms
Lawmakers heard recommendations from a court-appointed expert on how to address the practice. If Oregon’s child welfare system ends the state’s practice of putting foster children in temporary hotel rooms, the state will need to make widespread, systemic reforms that guide how children are cared for, housed and helped.
In an era of climate change, Alaska’s predators fall prey to politics
With Alaska’s wildlife numbers declining, agencies are blaming — and culling — predators. The true threat is much more complex. As spring arrived in southwestern Alaska, a handful of people from the state Department of Fish and Game rose early and climbed into small airplanes. Pilots flew through alpine valleys, where ribs of electric green growth emerged from a blanket of snow.
Oregon’s timber industry proposes shifting wildfire protection costs from landowners to public
Several timber companies participated in a workgroup and proposal that would cut the fees they pay to the state for fire protection. Timber companies appear to have played an influential role in a new legislative proposal to find sustainable funding for fighting wildfires. If passed, it could save the industry millions of dollars in fees they now pay to the state for fire protection and shift more of the cost to all Oregon property owners.
WA Democrats propose new tax on real estate sales over $3M to fund affordable housing
Supporters estimate the tax could raise nearly $300 million every two years. Republicans argue it could drive up costs for renters. Washington Democrats are again looking to raise taxes on expensive property sales to help pay for affordable housing. A bill that dropped Tuesday would add a tax to the...
InvestigateWest offers a new nonprofit model for watchdog journalism that enriches our community. We invest in original reporting — on public health, the environment, and government accountability — and produce powerful stories with a clear bearing on public policy.