Northwest News

Northwest Public Radio is a participant and contributor in the Northwest News Network (N3), a collaboration of public radio stations in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Our reporters bring a regional perspective to coverage of Northwest states' government, environment, economy, and other news of widespread interest to residents of the Northwest. Regional news on Northwest Public Radio is a part of Morning Edition every weekday morning, and All Things Considered in the afternoons.

Oregon Oysters May Contain Potentially Harmful Chemicals

May 3, 2016
Portland State University

A new study led by Portland State University finds that oysters in Coos and Netarts bays contain a cocktail of potentially harmful chemicals. But the state says it’s seen much of the data before and a health advisory is unnecessary. 

Ron Wyden, D-Ore., became the first U.S. senator to be elected entirely by mail when he was voted into office in 1996. Tuesday he told reporters he wants the vote-by-mail system to be expanded nationally, at least for federal races.

Wyden has tried unsuccessfully to get similar bills through Congress before, but he’s bringing it up again now because of long lines at polling places during this year's presidential primary season.

Idaho Press Club Honors Our Regional Reporters

May 2, 2016

A state representative admits he's not one of the cool kids and nobody wants to sit by him on an airplane full of lawmakers.

A rancher tells of a wildfire so out of control, flames jumped and reached across a highway.

Santa and Mrs. Claus are introduced to a room full of refugees in English and Arabic.

These stories and more from our reporters were awarded six honors Saturday from the Idaho Press Club, recognizing the best Idaho journalism in 2015.

Testing for lead in Washington schools is still voluntary seven years after the state passed rules to make it mandatory. That’s because state lawmakers never provided funding to pay for the testing.

Leaders of the Oregon Department of Human Services are assuring the public that the agency is committed to its mission despite recent turnover in management. That message came during a pair of public meetings Friday.

The stories are heartbreaking. An infant rolls off a bed and suffocates on a plastic bag. A one-month-old dies while sleeping between two adults.

According to a report on child fatalities released Friday by Washington state’s Office of the Family and Children’s Ombuds, unsafe sleep conditions are the leading cause of death for infants in whose families have come into contact with the child welfare system.

Kasich Says He Can Still Turn Around Campaign

Apr 29, 2016
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The Ohio governor, John Kasich, held a town hall for about 300 supporters. He later told reporters Oregon is a good fit because Republicans here aren’t as conservative as in some states.

The candidates for governor in Oregon have spent nearly $1.7 million dollars so far this year in their quest for office. So what has all that money bought them as the May 17 primary approaches?

On the eve of a two-week closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, former Washington Governor Chris Gregoire said she’s confident the tunneling project under Seattle’s waterfront will ultimately succeed.

The viaduct is closing to allow the tunnel-boring machine known as Bertha to dig underneath the double-decker structure. Under the original timeline the tunnel was supposed to be open by now and the viaduct long ago torn down.

Amy Radil / / KUOW

The battle over restroom and locker room access for transgender people has come to Washington state. Critics of the state’s open access policy are gathering signatures to put an initiative on the November ballot.

Ballots are going out in the mail this week to Oregon voters in advance of next month's primary. And it appears that independent voters are signing up in droves to vote in the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries.

ENERGY NORTHWEST

A third anonymous letter is criticizing an investigation into the Northwest’s only nuclear power plant. The investigation stems from other letters written by apparent insiders at Energy Northwest and is looking into the plant’s performance.

An ancient skeleton known as Kennewick Man moved a major step forward toward reburial Wednesday. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it has accepted DNA analysis that ties the remains found in the Tri-Cities to modern Native Americans.

The grocery industry is calling it quits on a potential ballot measure that would have privatized liquor sales in Oregon. Currently, hard liquor like whiskey, vodka and gin can only be sold in state-chartered stores.

Grocers want to be able to sell it along with their current selections of beer and wine, but the industry group behind the effort said Wednesday they won't collect any more signatures for the initiative.

Cancer Can't / www.facebook.com/cancercant.info

Picture this: You have a cabinet full of expensive, potentially life-saving medication, but you can’t use it. Do you just throw them away or is there another solution?

 

KUOW PHOTO/DEBORAH WANG

The Republican presidential contest is going to be heating up very quickly in Washington state. All three GOP candidates have announced that they are coming here to campaign before the state's primary.

TOBIN FRICKE/ WIKIMEDIA

Higher-than-normal radiation readings have been discovered in a second tank at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Officials are investigating to see whether the tank is leaking into its outer shell.

Don Ryan / / AP Images

Intel says it will lay off nearly 800 employees in Oregon as part of the company’s global restructuring.

Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley hugged and kissed his wife and shook his lawyers' hands as he was found not guilty Tuesday on a charge of making a false statement to the IRS. A federal jury in Tacoma deadlocked on the remaining 14 counts, including charges of possession of stolen property, money laundering and filing false tax returns.

The dramatic turn of events followed nearly four days of deliberations and comes almost exactly a year after Kelley was indicted by a federal grand jury. Prosecutors did not immediately indicate if they intend to re-try Kelley on any of the charges.

The jury in the federal criminal trial of Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley appears to be struggling to find agreement on at least one of the 15 counts. The jurors sent a question to the judge Monday asking what to do if they deadlock on a charge.

Oregon's Republican presidential primary is taking on a new look. The Ted Cruz campaign said the Texas senator will stand down in Oregon to clear a path for Ohio Governor John Kasich. The Cruz campaign will also pull back its efforts in New Mexico.

In return, the Kasich camp will back off in Indiana.

Herrera Beutler Pushes More Oil Train Spill Planning

Apr 25, 2016

Washington Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler has introduced a bill that would help firefighters around the country get grant money for oil train derailment and accident planning.

The bill doesn’t actually call for more dollars. Instead, it would create a higher priority for funding plans in communities where oil trains regularly travel.

Western Washington will get a new telephone area code next year pending a vote of the state utilities commission. Idaho is rolling out a new area code as well. 

The man in charge of Washington’s island-lock-up for sexual predators has resigned after two-and-a-half years on the job. Mark Strong submitted his resignation Friday as CEO of the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.

What Happens When Dams Come Down?

Apr 22, 2016
Paul Cooper / Flickr

For decades, America has debated the effects of dams on rivers. But what happens when dams go away? The removal of two dams on the Elwha River – completed in 2014 – offers a rare chance to see what happens when a river is undammed.

D Coetzee / Flickr

Walls are going up around Puget Sound, and the sound is paying for it. In King County, property owners have walled off most of the shoreline with concrete bulkheads and other heavy infrastructure. A new study suggests the practice known as shoreline armoring is more harmful to Puget Sound than previously thought.

A Washington daycare provider has pleaded guilty to defrauding the Working Connections Child Care program to the tune of $250,000. The plea was entered Thursday in federal court in Seattle.

The state cracked down on these cases five years ago and this is the biggest one yet.

Oregon is falling short of many of its own goals when it comes to caring for children in its foster care system. That's according to a review released this week.

Alaska Airlines executives sounded upbeat after their first meeting with antitrust regulators about Alaska's proposed acquisition of rival Virgin America.

"So far, so good" was Alaska Air General Counsel Kyle Levine's summary of how the initial meeting with the U.S. Department of Justice went.

CHRIS PHAN / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

 

This has been – to put it mildly – an unusual presidential election season. And for the first time in many years, Oregon’s May 17th primary could actually make a difference in the outcome at both major party nominating conventions.

But now that the primary is suddenly relevant, a lot of people find themselves confused about how the process works.

Let’s sort it out, shall we?

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