Dirk VanderHart

Salem Correspondent

Dirk VanderHart covers Oregon politics and government for OPB. Before barging onto the radio in 2018, he spent more than a decade as a newspaper reporter—much of that time reporting on city government for the Portland Mercury. He’s also had stints covering chicanery in Southwest Missouri, the wilds of Ohio in Ohio, and all things Texas on Capitol Hill.

Dirk’s byline has appeared in USA Today, The New York Times, The Houston Chronicle, The Columbus Dispatch, The Oregonian, and more. He’s got a journalism degree from Michigan State University.

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Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

The two states are both led by strong Democratic majorities and face similar issues. Only one of them is successfully passing legislation.

Bureau of Prisons

A federal detention facility in Sheridan, Oregon, must continue to open its doors to attorneys representing dozens of immigrant detainees, a judge ruled today.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

When the U.S. Supreme Court obliterated mandatory union dues in late June, the Freedom Foundation was ready.

For years, leaders of the conservative, Olympia-based nonprofit dreamed of a tool to kneecap the public-sector unions that champion Democratic candidates and liberal causes in Oregon. Suddenly it had arrived.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Three decades after Oregon blazed a trail by enacting statewide sanctuary laws, voters will have a say in repealing them this fall.

Dirk VanderHart / OPB

A tall fence separating protesters from a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Southwest Portland doesn’t have proper permits and is blocking a public sidewalks.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Following a stinging legal fight over public records with The Oregonian/OregonLive, and facing potentially steep ethics fines, Cylvia Hayes has filed for bankruptcy.

Hayes, the fiancee of former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, submitted the filing Tuesday, after revealing in a Facebook post in June that she would do so.

Shaundd / tinyurl.com/jy9ukrb

Less than a week after a U.S. Supreme Court decision on labor unions, anti-union canvassers are out in Salem. It’s the latest step in a campaign to weaken Oregon’s powerful labor movement.

Finetooth / tinyurl.com/gpy4fgq

Nearly 100 public water systems around Oregon—including the state’s largest—will be required to begin testing for harmful contaminants from algae blooms under new rules unveiled by the Oregon Health Authority.

M.O. Stevens / Wikimedia Commons - bit.ly/225LXJl

The lone gun-control measure vying for the November ballot has likely run out of time.

The Oregon Supreme Court Wednesday announced it would not certify ballot language for Initiative Petition 43, a proposed ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons in Oregon. Instead, the court referred draft ballot language back to Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum for revision, finding substantial flaws in her office’s last attempt.

Michael Saechang / Flickr - tinyurl.com/hjqmt6u

With the window for submitting signatures closing fast, backers of a ban on semi-automatic, military-style weapons in Oregon might finally win permission to begin petitioning voters this week.

Sheila Sund / tinyurl.com/ybq8vphd

After 10 days, the Oregon Health Authority has lifted an algae advisory for people swimming and boating in Detroit Lake.

Health officials have also made it harder to lift such advisories in the future.

Cacophony / tinyurl.com/ycfj7lzn

Drivers in the Portland area are one step closer to paying tolls. A volunteer committee voted Monday on recommendations for tolling two major highways.

John Rosman / OPB

Wasco County’s top prosecutor lied to investigators looking into whether he’d improperly investigated a county official, and should be suspended from practicing law for a month, a trial panel has found.

Sheila Sund / tinyurl.com/ybq8vphd

A drinking water advisory for the city of Salem doesn’t look like it’s going away just yet.

After extending the advisory over potentially harmful cyanotoxins for two weeks on June 11, city officials now say it’s unlikely the warning will be lifted June 25.

Dirk VanderHart / OPB

Images of migrant children kept in detention centers near the border have stirred strong feelings around the country. But the Portland-area shelter where federal officials send immigrant children is very different.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Days before a landmark Supreme Court decision is expected, Oregonians are launching an attack on a large public employee union.

Seven state, county and city employees filed suit in U.S. District Court earlier this week, claiming the state has infringed on their constitutional rights by forcing them to pay for collective bargaining and other services.

Dirk VanderHart / OPB

Following two days of raucous heckling and disruption from Portland demonstrators, a regional office for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has temporarily shuttered, the agency announced Wednesday.

Dirk VanderHart / OPB

New hardline immigration policies from the federal government have led to backlash nationwide. And in Oregon, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has an occupation on its hands.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

One of two gun-control proposals aimed at November’s ballot is facing possibly insurmountable odds.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld an Ohio law that aggressively purges inactive voters from the state’s voter rolls. But Oregon officials have no interest in a similar policy.

Sheila Sund / tinyurl.com/ybq8vphd

A drinking water advisory in Salem has been extended for another two weeks.

Oregon Secretary of State

Dennis Richardson is being treated for a “small, cancerous brain tumor,” he announced Wednesday.

Richardson, Oregon’s Secretary of State since 2017, revealed in his regular newsletter that he was diagnosed with cancer in May and that he’s feeling “blessed and optimistic.”

M.O. Stevens / tinyurl.com/ybnyr6ye

On Oregon’s highest court, women justices outnumber men, five to two. But never in its history has the court had a woman serve as chief justice.

Until now.

Sheila Sund / tinyurl.com/ybq8vphd

Gov. Kate Brown is declaring an emergency and mobilizing Oregon National Guard soldiers in response to an ongoing water quality situation in and around Salem.

Chief Jim Ferraris / Woodburn Police - tinyurl.com/ya5n9s9f

A text message alert that caused widespread confusion in the Marion County area on Tuesday marked the first time Oregon emergency planners had tried to use the warning system.

The message that blared onto people’s phone screens was brief. And vague.

Oregon Governor's Office - tinyurl.com/yc298rtc

Republicans angered by this week’s special Oregon legislative session have accused Gov. Kate Brown of playing politics in an election year. State ethics officials probably won’t wade into whether that’s true.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Oregon’s surging tax collections show no signs of abating—and that means you’re probably going to get some money back. Again.

John Rosman / OPB

Monday morning, Gov. Kate Brown convenes the state's first special legislative session since she became governor in 2015.

Oregon DOT

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has said she’s calling a special session next week to correct a simple matter of unfairness in state tax policy. But the first public hearing on Brown’s proposal Wednesday suggested debate could be anything but simple.

Campaign photo

Prosecutor Kevin Barton will take the helm of the Washington County District Attorney’s Office next year, after overcoming a forceful challenge from opponent Max Wall in the most expensive DA race Oregon’s ever seen.

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