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 Governor's Race
3:58 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

GOP State Rep. Enters Oregon Governor's Race

Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 3:05 pm

A long-time Republican state lawmaker known for his colorful floor speeches says he's running for Oregon governor in 2014. Dennis Richardson kicked off his campaign Wednesday with a series of rallies around the state.

Richardson has served more than a decade in the Oregon House. He's been the Republican point-person on budget issues and is an outspoken critic of the state's public pension system. He's a father of nine and comes from the Medford area.

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Oregon Legislature
4:29 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Oregon Legislature Falls Short Of 'Game-Changing' Mental Health Investment

Virginia Alvino Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 3:26 pm

This year in the Oregon legislature, there was a big push to dramatically boost funding for mental health programs. The effort was spurred on by mass shootings in Connecticut and Oregon. But mental health advocates say in the end, the legislature fell far short of the game-changer they hoped for.

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Oregon Legislature
4:34 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Oregon Lawmakers Close Out 2013 Session

Cacophony Wikimedia

Originally published on Mon July 8, 2013 4:43 pm

Oregon lawmakers have adjourned their 2013 legislative session. The final gavel fell just before 3 p.m. Monday.

House Speaker Tina Kotek carefully calibrated the final gavel to time it just right with her Senate colleague on the other side of the capitol rotunda. She then said to cheers, "The 77th legislative assembly is hereby adjourned Sine Die."

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Pension Cuts
3:57 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Union-Backed Lawsuit Seeks To Overturn Pension Cuts

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 2:27 pm

Public employee unions have followed through with their threat to challenge legislatively-approved cuts to public pensions. A union-backed lawsuit, filed this week, seeks to overturn the new law.

Unions representing many of Oregon's public employees have said all along that they would challenge the new cost-cutting policy. With that in mind, lawmakers have already fast-tracked any legal challenges directly to the Oregon Supreme Court.

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Oregon Legislative Session
4:51 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Tax Measure Fails in Oregon Legislature, Democrats Table Pension Cut

Cacophony Wikimedia

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 4:46 pm

It was dubbed the "Grand Bargain." But the carefully crafted deal to raise taxes and cut public pensions crashed and burned in the Oregon legislature Tuesday. 

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Oregon Legislative Session
5:31 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Oregon Legislature To Adjourn... But When?

Cacophony Wikimedia

Originally published on Mon July 1, 2013 5:07 pm

It's still not clear when the Oregon legislature will wrap up its work for the year. Lawmakers could vote as soon as Tuesday on a controversial package that would raise some taxes and cut benefits to retired public employees.

But lawmakers have other work to do, such as finalizing budgets for several large state agencies.

One might expect that they would be in a great hurry to get out of here before the Fourth of July but remember, their original adjournment target was last Friday, June 28th. So they've already blown through that deadline.

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Oregon Budget
4:10 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Oregon Lawmakers Send Education Budget To Governor

Jessica Paterson Flickr

Originally published on Mon July 1, 2013 4:34 pm

Oregon schools will get a sizeable increase in state funding after the Oregon House gave final approval to a spending plan for K-12 schools. Supporters say it will protect most districts from cuts.

When combined with a separate bill to cut public pensions, the education budget gives Oregon schools an additional $1 billion dollars to spend statewide. The plan had been tied up in a political showdown in the Senate but it passed the House by a wide margin.

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Oregon Mascot Ban
4:05 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Oregon Lawmakers Vote To Ease Native Mascot Ban Despite Veto Threat

Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

Originally published on Mon July 1, 2013 3:26 pm

Oregon lawmakers have ignored a threatened veto and approved a measure to relax a ban on Native American-themed school mascots. The Senate Monday gave final approval to the bill, which would allow school districts to keep their mascots if the nearest American Indian tribe agrees.

That would reverse a decision by the Oregon Board of Education to ban such mascots by 2017. Governor John Kitzhaber told legislative leaders he doesn't support the proposed change.

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Initiative Petitions
5:17 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

Oregon Lawmakers Tighten Signature Gathering Requirements

The Oregon House approved a measure that would extend signature gathering laws to more groups involved in the process.
Credit Garry Knight / Flickr

Oregon lawmakers want to tighten the rules for getting initiative petitions on the ballot. The Oregon House Friday approved a measure that would extend signature gathering laws to more groups involved in the process. But opponents say the legislation could unfairly affect people trying to get measures on the ballot.

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NPR Story
5:12 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

Oregon Lawmakers Tighten Signature Gathering Requirements

Garry Knight Flickr

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 4:16 pm

Oregon lawmakers want to tighten the rules for getting initiative petitions on the ballot. The Oregon House Friday approved a measure that would extend signature gathering laws to more groups involved in the process. But opponents say the legislation could unfairly affect people trying to get measures on the ballot.

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