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Oregon’s Drug Decriminalization Aimed to Make Cops a Gateway to Rehab, Not Jail. State Leaders Failed to Make It Work.

Just over three years since Oregon voters passed Ballot Measure 110, elected officials want to repeal key elements, blaming the law for open drug use and soaring overdoses. But it’s their own hands-off approach that isn’t working, advocates say.

Reporting From the Northwest

Our Northwest hub covers Washington, Idaho, Alaska and Oregon. The six-person reporting team includes three Local Reporting Network Distinguished Fellows and is committed to partnering with local media.

The Cutting

The Oregon Timber Industry Won Huge Tax Cuts in the 1990s. Now It May Get Another Break Thanks to a Top Lawmaker.

As the cost of fighting wildfires increases, state Sen. Elizabeth Steiner has proposed a bill — developed in consultation with the logging industry — that would shift millions in expenses away from the biggest landowners and onto taxpayers.

Broken Promises

In a Major Shift, Northwest Tribes — not U.S. Officials — Will Control Salmon Recovery Funds

The Biden administration punted on key demands from Indigenous leaders to tear down hydroelectric dams hindering salmon. But tribes won control over $1 billion for other salmon efforts.

Idaho Keeps Some Psychiatric Patients in Prison, Ignoring Decades of Warnings About the Practice

A temporary program for “dangerously mentally ill” patients has continued for five decades, despite calls from critics to provide better care. Soon, Idaho will be the only state still using prisons to house patients who face no criminal charges.

Northwest News Staff

Northwest Editor
Steve Suo
Rob Davis, Audrey Dutton and McKenzie Funk
Local Reporting Network Distinguished Fellows
Kyle Hopkins, Lulu Ramadan and Tony Schick
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Local Reporting Network Partners

ProPublica is supporting local and regional newsrooms as they work on important investigative projects affecting their communities. Some of our past and present partners in the region:

Anchorage Daily News
Anchorage, Alaska
High Country News
Idaho Statesman
Boise, Idaho
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Portland, Oregon
The Seattle Times
Seattle, Washington

Iditarod Disqualifies Former Champion After Sexual Assault Allegations

The Iditarod board voted unanimously on Thursday to disqualify former champion Brent Sass after allegations made in November and recent questions from Alaska Public Media, the Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica. Sass has denied the claims.

Idaho Resolution Would Aim to Lower Voting Threshold to Pass School Bonds

Under restrictive school funding policies, Idaho districts struggle to repair and replace deteriorating buildings. If voters agree, the proposal would, in some elections, reduce the two-thirds threshold needed to pass bonds for school repairs.

Idaho Legislature Takes Up Bill to Help School Districts Repair and Replace Buildings

The bill would provide $1.5 billion in new funding in a state where communities have struggled to pass bonds even as some students learn in freezing and overcrowded classrooms with leaky ceilings and discolored drinking water.

Police Say They Won’t Reopen Case of Alaska Woman Found Dead on Mayor’s Property

In an open letter, the Kotzebue police chief said state investigators reviewed the case of Jennifer Kirk’s 2018 death and found no new leads. But parts of the letter contradict previous information the department has released about the case.

Washington State Is Leaving Tribal Cultural Resources at the Mercy of Solar Developers

The Badger Mountain solar project reveals gaps in the state’s permitting system that tribal nations say perpetuates a legacy of “cultural genocide.”

The Failed Promise of Independent Election Mapmaking

In Washington and other states, independent redistricting commissions have fallen prey to partisanship, just like the legislative bodies they were meant to replace.

Idaho Governor Proposes $2 Billion in Funding for School Buildings Over Next 10 Years

Gov. Brad Little cited reporting by the Idaho Statesman and ProPublica as he laid out his plan for a massive infrastructure investment in the state’s public schools during Monday’s State of the State address.

Idaho Hasn’t Assessed School Buildings for 30 Years. Students and Educators Helped Us Do It Ourselves.

To understand the problems plaguing underfunded schools in Idaho, we surveyed 115 superintendents, toured 39 buildings and collected accounts from hundreds of students, parents and teachers.

Falling Apart

Students and educators in Idaho show us what it’s like when a state fails to fund school repairs.

Idaho Lawmakers Are Discussing a Proposal That Would Make It Easier to Repair Schools

For decades, Idaho’s high bar for school bonds has led to building conditions that students and teachers say make it difficult to learn. Amending the state constitution would help districts secure funding, but doing so won’t be easy.

A Washington Special Education School Accused of Abusing Students Is Closing Amid Scrutiny

The state’s investigation of Northwest SOIL, a private program serving public school students, was prompted by reporting from The Seattle Times and ProPublica that uncovered accusations about staff restraining and injuring vulnerable students.

For Alaska Families, Questions Remain About Unsolved Deaths and “Suicides”

Local law enforcement said there was only one official unsolved killing in Kotzebue, Alaska. Many residents suspect otherwise.

9 Times the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Miscalculated Badly at the Expense of Taxpayers, Wildlife

The agency has a history of diving into big construction projects that exceed projected costs, fall short on projected benefits and, in some cases, create new problems that engineers hadn’t bargained for.

One Woman Died on an Alaska Mayor’s Property. Then Another. No One Has Ever Been Charged.

Before they died, Jennifer Kirk and Sue Sue Norton were both victims of domestic violence, but the men involved — the ex-mayor’s sons — faced few consequences despite a long history of similar allegations.

“Killing Salmon to Lose Money”

Many endorse opening dams and letting fish coast the natural current as the best way to avoid extinction. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has other ideas.

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Most Read

    What Happens When Prosecutors Offer Opposing Versions of the Truth?

    An unusual recent court decision offered harsh criticism of a behavior that has left dozens of men condemned to death since the 1970s, spotlighting cases where prosecutors offered claims that contradicted what they said elsewhere.

    The Rising Cost of the Oil Industry’s Slow Death

    Unplugged oil and gas wells accelerate climate change, threaten public health and risk hitting taxpayers’ pocketbooks. ProPublica and Capital & Main found that the money set aside to fix the problem falls woefully short of the impending cost.

    Post-Roe America

    Inside the Internal Debates of a Hospital Abortion Committee

    In states that banned abortion, doctors are forced to wrestle with tough decisions about high-risk pregnancy care. “I don’t want to have a patient die and be responsible for it,” one Tennessee doctor said.

    The Long Burn

    Record-Setting Blazes Are Growing More Common. Here’s What Survivors of One Want You to Know.

    When the federal government accidentally triggered New Mexico’s largest wildfire, hundreds of people lost their homes and livelihoods. They have become reluctant students of forest management, disaster aid and resiliency.

    Local Reporting Network

    Iditarod Disqualifies Former Champion After Sexual Assault Allegations

    The Iditarod board voted unanimously on Thursday to disqualify former champion Brent Sass after allegations made in November and recent questions from Alaska Public Media, the Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica. Sass has denied the claims.

    Local Reporting Network