Chris Lehman

Salem Correspondent

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.

Chris is a native of rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He was born in the upstairs bedroom of his grandmother's house, and grew up in a 230 year old log cabin in the woods. Chris traces his interest in journalism to his childhood, when his parents threatened to take away his newspaper if he didn’t do his chores.

In addition to working full time in public radio for the past decade, Chris has also reported from overseas on a free–lance basis. He's filed stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda. He lives in Salem with his wife and child.

Read Chris's blog, "Capitol Currents: Dispatches From Salem."

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Oregon Capitol Renovation
7:27 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Oregon Capitol Renovation Would Include Seismic Upgrades

Base isolators like this one would be used to stabilize the capitol building in the event of an earthquake.
Credit Oregon Legislature

Oregon's state capitol building could soon undergo a massive renovation. It's a project so big, lawmakers would have to use a temporary capitol for more than three years.
 
Senior project manager Tary Carlson says the idea is to help the Depression-era capitol building withstand a major earthquake.

"When this was built 76 years ago, they did not design for lateral forces of a seismic event such as a Cascadia Subduction Zone," Carlson says.

And so what would be left if the Big One hits?

"A pile of rubble," Carlson says.

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Oregon Marijuana Funding
4:10 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Oregon Marijuana Regulators Request Funding To Develop Rules

A state agency in Oregon could get a more than a half million dollar injection of emergency funds to help oversee the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Credit Cannabis Training University / Wikimedia

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission could get a more than $500,000 injection of emergency funds to help oversee the legalization of recreational marijuana.

That’s because starting next year, the OLCC won't be controlling just liquor anymore. Voters gave it the job of regulating pot, too.

Legal marijuana sales likely won't begin until early 2016. But the OLCC is about to embark on a lengthy rulemaking process for how marijuana can be grown and sold in the state. The agency wants to hire four new people right off the bat with more to come next year.

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Small Business Crowdfunding
8:29 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Oregon Rule Change Would Allow Small Businesses To Use Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is the practice of gathering funds from a large number of people for a project or venture.
Credit Rocio Lara / Flickr

Businesses in Oregon could soon take advantage of the crowdfunding phenomenon. State regulators Wednesday heard from the public on proposed rules to let smaller companies raise cash from Oregon investors.

Think Kickstarter except instead of making a donation you'd be making an actual investment in a small business. It’s a workaround of federal rules--with a quarter-million dollar limit per company. Small business advocate Jarvez Hall says he thinks the new policy could open doors to people of color who can have a harder time accessing traditional sources of capital.

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GMO Labeling
5:35 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Recount Of Food Labeling Measure Underway

Elections workers in Salem hand-count Marion County ballots.
Credit Chris Lehman

The first statewide recount in more than six years is underway in Oregon. Elections workers Tuesday started hand-counting the more than 1.5 million votes cast for and against Measure 92.

The initiative would require food manufacturers and retailers to label genetically engineered foods. It failed in the initial tally by just 812 votes. That triggered a state-funded recount. In Salem, Marion County clerk Bill Burgess has a team of about 50 temporary workers combing through ballots. He says the counters found just one correction to make during the first three hours on the job.

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Oregon Budget
3:57 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Kitzhaber Unveils $18.6 Billion Spending Plan

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber unveiled his 2015-2017 spending plan during a press conference at the state capitol in Salem.
Credit Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has unveiled an $18.6 billion spending plan for the next two years. The Democrat outlined his proposal at the state capitol Monday. Roughly half of the money is marked for education.

Kitzhaber mentioned his budget also includes tax relief for low-income workers.

"To ensure that hard work is actually rewarded with a better life…to ensure that when you get more wages, when your income goes up, you actually have more money, not less money in your pocket," Kitzhaber said.

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Oregon Marijuana Taxes
7:03 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Oregon Cities Seek Clarity On Marijuana Taxes

City leaders in Fairview, Oregon passed a 40 percent tax on recreational marijuana sales.
Credit Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Dozens of Oregon cities rushed to approve taxes on recreational marijuana before Oregon voters legalized it this fall. But it's not clear whether those revenues will ever materialize since Measure 91 seemingly rules out local taxes on pot.

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Crime, Law And Justice
5:02 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Northwesterners Protest Ferguson Decision

A rally was held in Salem to protest the grand jury's decision in the Michael Brown case.
Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 3:41 pm

People in several Northwest cities raised their voices in protest Tuesday over a grand jury's decision not to indict a Ferguson, Missouri, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown an unarmed black 18-year-old.

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Measure 92
6:27 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Oregon Food Labeling Measured Headed For Likely Recount

Measure 92 would require food manufacturers and retailers to label genetically engineered foods sold in Oregon.
Credit dmmd303 / Flickr

The most expensive initiative in Oregon history appears headed for a recount.

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Cover Oregon Lawsuit
5:46 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Oregon, Oracle Tangle In Federal Court

A federal court judge in Portland said Friday that for now, Oracle can’t have its way and keep its suit against the state of Oregon.

The case and a counter suit are about the failed health insurance exchange website called “Cover Oregon". Oracle was the chief technology firm that put it together. The website never really worked as it intended to, so the state wanted to get some compensation for all the money it sent to the site. 

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GMO Measure Recount
5:51 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Oregon's Food Labeling Measure Appears Headed For Recount

A ballot measure in Oregon that would require labels on genetically engineered foods could be heading for a recount.
Lindsay Eyink

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 7:09 pm

It appears Oregon is headed for its first statewide ballot measure recount in more than six years.

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