Author

Kaylee Tornay, InvestigateWest

Kaylee Tornay, InvestigateWest

Kaylee Tornay, an investigative reporter at InvestigateWest, has been documenting stories in Oregon and California since her high school journalism days in Bend, Oregon. A graduate of the University of Oregon, she braved the rains of Eugene with her notebook before moving on to cover wildfire mitigation and dangerous highways in the forests and vineyards of southern Oregon and northern California. She has won regional awards for her work watchdogging public and private schools’ efficacy in meeting student need.

Valeria Atanacio, head of tribal affairs in Oregon's Early Learning Division in 2021, rejoiced when the Legislature passed a law to create a tribal early learning program in the division.

Effort to boost tribal early learning collapses 3 years after mandate by Oregon Legislature

By: - February 20, 2024

Three years ago, Valeria Atanacio urged state lawmakers to pass a bill aiming to increase Indigenous families’ access to early learning and child care programs.  When the Oregon Legislature embraced the proposal — called the Tribal Early Learning Hub — she considered it a victory. “That was really impactful because it was delivering on a […]

The Oregon state Capitol in Salem.

Oregon House passes bill to allow more state investigations of suspected child labor violations

By: - February 19, 2024

In 2020, a Ford dealership located in a suburb of Portland settled with the U.S. Department of Labor for nearly $28,000 over reported violations of federal child labor law. Federal investigators had learned that six workers, ages 16 and 17, were performing prohibited tasks as lot attendants at Landmark Ford in Tigard, including operating trash compactors. One teen […]

Oregon’s labor regulators ask for lawmakers’ help to tackle backlogs

By: - February 7, 2024

When Christina Stephenson was elected Oregon’s labor commissioner in 2022, she stressed the importance of resolving the backlog of wage and civil rights claims as soon as possible. “Especially a person who has had their wages stolen, getting them the money that they are owed could be the difference between them making rent, being able […]

The amount a salaried worker would need to be paid before an employer could avoid paying overtime would rise to $55,068 annually under a proposed rule from the Department of Labor.

Oregon employers rarely pay penalties for wage theft. The state wants that to change.

By: - January 2, 2024

For Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries, tackling wage theft involves more than just collecting unpaid wages. It also involves deterring wage theft from happening in the first place.  That’s why the bureau may issue penalties to employers who investigators determined have unlawfully denied workers pay.  But actually collecting those penalties has proven difficult for […]

Jess and Liam Sollaccio play in the park outside Bumble Preschool on Sept. 6, 2023, in Astoria.

Oregon has spent millions on child care but some areas have not benefited

By: - October 25, 2023

Jess Sollaccio never expected it would be so difficult to find child care. A tech worker living near Astoria on Oregon’s coast, Jess was making a good wage alongside her husband, Dan. Both work remotely, and during COVID, their employers understood their need to juggle caring for their 1-year-old son, Liam. But as society began […]

Crypto mining facility in Washington state.

WA passes climate goals for crypto and data centers while OR’s effort fails 

By: - May 19, 2023

Proposals in Oregon and Washington to regulate carbon emissions tied to crypto mining and data centers took opposite paths during the 2023 legislative session. In Washington, House Bill 1416 sailed through the House and Senate with relative ease and was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this month. The new law mandates that customers of […]

opioid pills have been overprescribed in the past

Oregon lawmakers struggle to improve monitoring tool for opioid prescriptions

By: - March 30, 2023

In 2009, as prescription opioid addiction rates soared, Oregon adopted a critical oversight tool meant to help address the crisis: prescription drug monitoring. The database of prescriptions could identify patients who were doctor-shopping and notify prescribers. Or it could alert oversight authorities to questionable prescribing practices by clinicians. But Oregon was one of the last […]

Why Northwest officials are only now deciding how to regulate crypto mining

By: - February 24, 2023

More than a dozen cryptocurrency mining operations call Grant County, Washington, home. In a county of just over 100,000 residents, sitting directly below the Grand Coulee Dam, 13 crypto mining operations — think warehouses stacked with networked computers continuously working on complex math equations to earn bitcoin — might seem like a lot. But the […]

Madysun Wilson was homeless in high school and didn't think she'd graduate but now she's a freshman at Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay where she stays in a dorm.

Dozens of Oregon school districts likely undercounting homeless students

By: - December 21, 2022

Madysun Wilson had already given up on graduating when the dean at her high school showed up during her shift at Papa Murphy’s in Coos Bay, Oregon. She was technically homeless, crashing at a friend’s house after leaving her family home at 15. Casey McCord, the dean, had been calling her relatives for weeks letting […]

Oregon food banks forced to tighten belts as hunger swells across the state

By: - November 29, 2022

The need for food assistance is at a near-record high in Oregon, and food bank managers are sounding the alarms about rising hunger across the state. Local and regional food managers said they see no signs of the demand abating in the coming months, and at least one said the food pantry she manages has […]

Despite last year’s lessons, Northwest schools scramble to find staff

By: - October 10, 2022

As waves of Covid swelled last year, short-handed schools across the Northwest struggled to stay operational. Principals stepped onto the playground to monitor recess or into the cafeteria to help serve lunches. Districts hired community members holding emergency substitute licenses, often with no teaching experience, to ensure classrooms had adequate supervision. In the most extreme […]