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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Hospital Tax
5:31 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Oregon Hospital Tax Becomes Political Bargaining Chip

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 5:02 pm

The Oregon House Tuesday approved a measure to renew a tax paid by hospitals and long-term care facilities. The concept isn't controversial since the institutions that pay it are largely reimbursed by federal Medicaid dollars. But the vote became a skirmish in a larger political battle in Salem.

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Adoption Bill
6:38 am
Tue May 14, 2013

Adoption Bill Aims For More Access To Paperwork

Courtesy Laura Batt

Originally published on Mon May 13, 2013 7:43 pm

Oregon lawmakers are considering a measure that would make it easier for people who were adopted as children to access court records about their biological family. A House committee could vote to advance the measure Tuesday.

Oregon Senate Bill 623 is what is sometimes called a housekeeping bill. It's pretty boring, really. The measure clarifies who gets access to certain kinds of paperwork and how they go about getting it.

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Indoor Tanning
5:02 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Teen Tan Ban On Its Way To Oregon Governor's Desk

Alexandra Kocik Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 4:46 pm

Teenagers will have a harder time getting an artificial tan under a bill that won final approval in the Oregon Senate Thursday. It requires teens under 18 to get a permission slip from a doctor if they want to use a tanning bed at a salon.

Supporters said there's an overwhelming link between skin cancer and artificial tans, especially among people who get them when they’re young. Opponents called it a “nanny state” measure and said teens would simply find other ways to tan.

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Oregon Benefits Audit
4:23 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Oregon Audit Finds Dead People, Lottery Winners Among Benefits Recipients

Oregon Department of Human Services

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 4:19 pm

Dead people and lottery winners are receiving food stamps and other public assistance benefits in Oregon. That's according to a new audit released Wednesday by the Oregon Secretary of State's office.

Some of the examples are eye-popping: One person hit a $900,000 lottery jackpot but kept on getting food stamps. State benefits flowed to more than 1,000 people who were reported dead by the Social Security Administration.

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Oregon Housing
5:40 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Oregon Closing Down Two Federally-Funded Mortgage Assistance Programs

Nick Bastian Flickr

Originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 5:00 pm

The state of Oregon is shutting down two federal bailout programs this month meant to keep struggling homeowners from losing their house. The reason? Lack of interest.

One of the programs helps people who are now making payments but have racked up late fees and penalties from earlier in the loan. Turns out fewer than 200 people even qualified for it. The money is from a federal housing bailout called the Hardest Hit Fund.

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Gun Laws
4:44 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Gun Bills On Life Support In Oregon Legislature

Robert Nelson Flickr

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 4:33 pm

The future of a set of bills to create stricter gun laws is in doubt in the Oregon legislature. The most controversial measure would require criminal background checks for all gun sales. Another would allow school districts to ban guns from school grounds.

But after some initial momentum, the bills are heading back to committee.

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Logging Protests
4:01 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Anti-Logging Protesters: 'We Are Not Terrorists'

Jay Plater Flickr

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 5:07 pm

Some environmental groups say they're being unfairly targeted by legislation working its way through the Oregon capitol. A pair of measures take aim at protesters who get in the way of tree harvesting operations on state-owned forest land.

One bill would make it easier for timber companies to sue protesters. Another would increase criminal penalties for people who block logging operations.

Or, as Republican representative Wayne Krieger put it on the House floor, "The bill addresses environmental terrorism."

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Oregon Driver Licenses
4:37 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Thousands Celebrate Legislative Victories At Salem May Day Rally

Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 4:15 pm

Immigrants rights groups and labor unions held May Day rallies across the northwest Wednesday. It was a joyous occasion at the Oregon capitol, where thousands of people were on hand to celebrate a pair of legislative victories.

At first blush, this rally seemed a lot like the May Day rallies of past years. People chanting: "Si se puede, si se puede"

But instead of "yes we can" perhaps the marchers should have said "yes we did."

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Driver Licenses
5:23 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Oregon Lawmakers Approve Driving Privileges For People Without Legal Presence

Oregon DMV

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 4:54 pm

People in the country illegally could get a driver license under a bill approved Tuesday by the Oregon House. The vote sends the measure to Governor John Kitzhaber. He plans to sign it during a May Day rally in Salem Wednesday.

Under current Oregon law, you can't get a driver license if you can't prove you're in the country legally. This bill creates licenses that would be good for four years -- not eight years like normal ones.

You also couldn't use one as ID to board a plane or buy a gun.

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Logging Protests
3:53 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Lawmakers Want To Crack Down On Logging Protests

US Forest Service

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 3:17 pm

Oregon lawmakers want to increase penalties for protesters who disrupt logging on state-owned forestland. The Oregon House Monday approved a measure that makes it a crime to obstruct timber operations. But the bill would still allow protests that don't actually block logging crews.

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