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.

Low temperatures, snow drifts, and northeasterly winds east of the Cascades are making things difficult for Northwest ranchers and dairy owners. They are struggling to keep their animals hydrated, fed and warm.

Flickr user Pictures of Money / FLICKR Creative Commons

Millions of U.S. workers will get a raise on New Year's Day, as more than a dozen states increase their minimum wage. That includes thousands of people across Washington.

Associated Press / AP Images

It’s been one year since a group of armed occupiers took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County.  Last January, Ammon Bundy climbed onto a snowbank outside the Safeway grocery store in Burns and declared his intention to take over a bird sanctuary in Oregon’s remote high desert.

Montana resident Ryan Payne was one of the first people to travel to Harney County earlier this year to help Ammon Bundy take over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

He was also one of the first to plead guilty in the case.

Despite a monthslong effort to withdraw that plea, U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown said Wednesday that Payne will have to honor his agreement.

Washington ‘Faithless’ Electors Facing $1,000 Fines

Dec 29, 2016

The four members of Washington's electoral college who voted for people other than Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine earlier this month will each be fined $1,000.

Two people were killed in separate traffic crashes in Oregon Tuesday. That means 2016 is now the deadliest year on Oregon's roads in more than a decade.

The new year means a new slate of 18 laws will take effect in Oregon. That's a relatively small number because the 2016 legislative session was just five weeks long. Most of the bills that were passed during the session have taken effect already.

Oregon will soon have its first Republican secretary of state in more than three decades. Dennis Richardson is set to take the oath of office on Friday.

The rainiest fall on record in parts of eastern Oregon and Washington was good for keeping late-season wildfires at bay, but torrential rains wreaked havoc on some timber harvesters in the Northwest.

Marijuana growers use a lot of pesticides — especially when these mildew- and mite-sensitive plants are grown indoors.

But a growing number of farmers and shops are trying to give their customers a satisfying cannabis high without the downer of pesticide-related environmental or health risks.

Johnny Vanella is among them. At the JV Ranch outside Goldendale, Washington, he harvested his first organically grown cannabis crop this fall.

This story is the first in a two-part report on conditions at mobile home parks in the U.S. Today's piece focuses on what happens when corporate park owners fail to take care of their communities. The second story looks at what happens when residents are able to take ownership over their community. Read part two here.

The Federal Railroad Administration is requiring Union Pacific railroad to increase its inspections and the quality of its track maintenance.

The agreement announced Friday comes in response to a fiery oil train derailment in June in the Columbia River Gorge.

Under the agreement, Union Pacific will need to increase track inspections to twice per week.

A Nativity scene that appeared without fanfare at the Washington State Capitol early this week has now drawn protest. An atheist/agnostic group installed a counter display Friday on the public Capitol Grounds.

Oregon taxpayers who file returns as soon as possible in order to claim a refund may have to wait longer to get their cash in 2017. The Oregon Department of Revenue says it will hold onto state income tax refunds until February 15.

Diane Rehm is wrapping up a public radio career spanning more than four decades and thousands of episodes. Her talk show has originated at Washington, D.C.'s WAMU and is heard by nearly 3 million people across the country weekly on NPR stations.

Yet The Diane Rehm Show almost didn't get off the ground.

In 1979, Rehm started as a host with a program aimed at homemakers. Several years later, she informed her boss that she had other plans.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has pardoned three men for crimes they committed more than two decades ago. The pardons are Brown's first since taking office and remove criminal convictions from the men's records.

“Although clemency is appropriate only in rare cases, these applicants have distinguished themselves by learning from past mistakes and committing themselves to serving their communities," Brown said in a release.

Bryan Hockaday, a spokesman for the governor, said executive clemency is something Brown takes “very seriously.”

Uber and Lyft are gradually expanding their coverage in the Pacific Northwest beyond the major metro areas. Uber launched its smartphone ride-booking service in Kennewick and Yakima, Washington, last week and similar-sized Oregon cities may get their shot in 2017.

The face of Washington state government is about to get a makeover. Five new statewide elected officials will take office in January -- a record in modern times.

Unlucky crewmembers stranded on two big container ships of the bankrupt Hanjin line won't be home for Christmas, but that didn't mean the Christmas spirit bypassed them this week. The ships are being held indefinitely in the vicinity of Victoria at the behest of creditors.

A University of Oregon Law Professor has been found to have violated the school’s policy against discrimination when she wore blackface for a Halloween costume. The UO released a report on the incident Wednesday.

After Oregon voters approved recreational marijuana use for adults in 2014, there was no place to legally buy it until October of the following year. That's when a law kicked in that allowed dispensaries to sell to people without medical marijuana cards.

Oregon remains on track to gain a sixth congressional district in 2020, according to an analysis of new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday.

“If we take those estimates and project them to 2020, we can then see what things might look like in four years,” said Kimball Brace, president of political consulting firm Election Data Services.

“At that point in time, Oregon is still secure in gaining its additional seat.”

Congressional districts are based on the U.S. Census, which is taken every decade. The next census will be done in 2020.

New Idaho Legislator Prepares to Govern

Dec 20, 2016

When Idaho legislators begin their 2017 session next month, their numbers will include 14 new representatives and four new senators. Only one of those 18 serves in the districts that cover the state’s five northernmost counties.

The Washington State Patrol is cracking down on drunk drivers for the holidays.

Several Northwest tribes are meeting this week with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and with the Washington state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation to discuss the imminent reburial of the Ancient One, or Kennewick Man.

Oregon's agency devoted to economic development should provide more transparency about how its incentives are being used. That's one of the findings of an audit of Business Oregon released Monday by the Oregon Secretary of State's office.

A failed energy substation caused the Northwest’s only nuclear power plant to have to power down Sunday. Bonneville Power Administration officials are still investigating why it went offline, but it might be related to very cold weather.

They may not change history. But four Washington electors made history Monday when they broke ranks and voted for alternative candidates for president and vice president. This hasn’t happened in Washington in 40 years.

Meanwhile, all seven of Oregon’s Electoral College votes went to Hillary Clinton. Clinton easily won each state’s popular vote last month.

Monday is the day when members of the Electoral College cast their votes for president. It's usually a routine event, but this year's political turmoil means the voting is getting extra attention.

The agency in charge of managing Oregon's water resources is being stretched to the limit. That's one of the findings in a new audit from the Oregon Secretary of State's office.

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