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Political Reporter

Dirk VanderHart


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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Recent Articles

local | News | Politics

In Tight Vote, Oregon Senators Move Toward More Leniency For Juveniles

Senate Bill 1008, which would scale back strict mandatory sentences on juvenile offenders, needed support from two-thirds of senators to pass. It barely made it.

local | Politics | News | Economy

Kotek, Courtney Working Up A PERS Plan Of Their Own

The House speaker said Monday that a plan released by Gov. Kate Brown last week doesn't do enough to protect all public employers in Oregon from ballooning pension payments.

local | Education | News | Politics

Portland School Board Member Ends Voluntary Work With Secretary Of State

Julia Brim-Edwards was an obvious choice to help new Secretary of State Bev Clarno take office, but her presence also raised questions.

local | News | Politics

2 More Leaving In Ongoing Shakeup Under New Oregon Secretary Of State

Inclusion coordinator Larry Morgan and liaison to the State Board of Education Kim Sordyl are the latest to depart, the Secretary of State's office now led by Bev Clarno. 

local | News | Politics

Halfway Home, Oregon Legislators Still Face Huge To-Do List

Roughly halfway through the 2019 Oregon legislative session, April 9 marked the last day most bills could either be moved out of committee or shelved for another year.

local | Business | Health | Politics | Economy | News

Once Quiet, The Debate Over Higher Oregon Tobacco Taxes Lights Up

In the first hearing on a package of tobacco tax bills, opponents warned of layoffs and shuttered businesses. Tax supporters touted health outcomes.

Politics | News | Election | Nation

After Tense Hearing, Oregon Poised To Join National Popular Vote Movement

The hearing was the first time the full Senate heard the proposal to change how Oregon handles presidential elections. It passed easily. 

Politics | News | Health | Economy

Oregon Considers Cigarette Tax Hike To Match Neighbors — And Fund Health Care

The proposal is a major feature of Gov. Kate Brown's plan for funding the state's Medicaid program. It could also lead to a rematch of a 2007 ballot measure. 

Transportation | News | Politics

Oregon Bicyclists Could Treat Stop Signs As Yields Under Low-Key Proposal

Sen. Floyd Prozanski is once again proposing making the "Idaho stop" legal in Oregon.

Environment | local | Food | News | Politics

Plastic Straw Regulations Move Forward — With A Break For Fast Food

The question of how to reduce single-use drinking straws has proved surprisingly tricky this session.

local | News | Politics

'OPB Politics Now:' Gun Bills And A New Secretary Of State

Security in the state Capitol was extra tight this week as lawmakers considered whether to expand the state’s gun control laws.

local | News | Politics

Oregon Secretary Of State Bev Clarno Praised For Grit, Fairness At Swearing In

A swearing-in ceremony marked Bev Clarno's first public appearance since being appointed Oregon secretary of state by Gov. Kate Brown last week.

News | Nation | Politics

Oregon Lawmakers Take Up Bill To Sharply Narrow Death Penalty

The first hearing on Senate Bill 1013 drew overwhelming support, but its future is unclear.

local | News | Politics

Bev Clarno, Former House Speaker, Will Be Oregon's Next Secretary Of State

Bev Clarno, 83, former speaker of the Oregon House, is Gov. Kate Brown's choice to fill in for late Secretary of State Dennis Richardson.

local | News | Politics

Oregon Lawmakers Considering New Leniency For Juvenile Inmates

A package of bills with high-profile support would limit how people who committed crimes as juveniles could be placed in the adult prison system. 

Environment | local | News | Politics

Oregon Cap And Trade Bill Sees Big Changes

A massive amendment package would rope in additional industries, but also offer new carve outs to polluters. 

Oregon Might Finally Join Popular-Vote Movement For Presidential Elections

After 12 years of debate, Senate President Peter Courtney says he'll allow a vote on the concept.

local | News | Politics

Former Oregon Capitol HR Chief Retires, Agrees Not To Sue

Under an agreement signed last year, Lore Christopher will work from home and retain a full salary until September. In exchange, she can't sue for age discrimination.

local | Technology | News

2M Emails Containing Personal Info Possibly Exposed In Oregon DHS Security Breach

The Oregon Department of Human Services said nine employees clicked on an email link on Jan. 8, 2019, that may have allowed hackers to access about 2 million emails.

local | News | Politics

Should Oregon Lawmakers Make More Money? Some Senators Say Yes

A bill this session would increase lawmaker salaries by 63 percent. Backers say it's the only way to attract diverse candidates.