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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Tax Proposal
5:14 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Oregon Democrats Unveil Revenue Increase Proposal

Jessica Paterson Flickr

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 4:53 pm

SALEM, Ore. – Democrats in the Oregon legislature are offering up more details of their plan to raise an additional $275 million for the upcoming budget. High-income earners and some businesses would pay more under the proposal, which was released Tuesday.

Democratic leaders say under their plan, less than five percent of Oregonians would pay more in taxes. The increases are aimed at households earning more than $250,000. Those taxpayers would be able to claim fewer deductions and exemptions on their tax returns.

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Gun Control
3:54 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Gun Opponents Rally In Advance Of Oregon Capitol Hearing

Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 3:48 pm

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers will hear hours of testimony Friday on a slate of bills aimed at curbing gun violence. Supporters of stricter gun laws rallied at the capitol Thursday in advance of the hearing.

Gina Saracco was shopping for Christmas gifts at the Clackamas Town Center mall last December when shots rang out. A gunman killed two people and wounded another before killing himself. Saracco told ralliers that her fear turned to anger when days later 26 people were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

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It's All Politics
1:19 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Oregon Weighs Own Gun Measures After Mall Shooting, Newtown

Gun rights supporters rally at the Oregon Capitol in February.
Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 5:20 pm

Oregon state lawmakers have scheduled a marathon public hearing Friday on four gun control bills. The proposals include a ban on guns in schools and criminal background checks for private gun sales.

Opponents are lining up against the measures, but some gun control advocates say the proposals don't go far enough.

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School Seclusion Cells
5:01 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Seclusion Cell Ban Heads To Governor's Desk

Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

Originally published on Mon April 1, 2013 4:43 pm

SALEM, Ore. – A ban on the use of so-called seclusion cells in Oregon schools is on its way to the desk of Governor John Kitzhaber. The Oregon Senate voted Monday to approve the measure that would phase out the small rooms. They’re used when out-of-control students need a place to calm down without posing a risk to themselves or others.

Democratic senator Lee Beyer told his colleagues there are other ways to handle these students.

"I understand the problems that you have in containing some of these young people that have problems, but this is the wrong way."

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Marijuana Legalization
4:39 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

Marijuana Advocates Push Legalization Measure In Salem

Petr Brož Wikimedia

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 3:06 pm

  SALEM, Ore. – Marijuana advocates are taking their message to the Oregon capitol. A legislative panel will consider a measure Tuesday that would legalize and tax the drug. It comes as Washington state is in the process of crafting rules about how to regulate pot after voters there approved legalization.

Still, Anthony Johnson knows he's asking a lot.

"I understand that this is a heavy lift for the legislature to pass this bill this year," he says.

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Oregon Gun Bills
6:41 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Oregon Lawmakers Consider Slate Of Gun Bills

Jessica Paterson Flickr

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 6:47 pm

SALEM, Ore. – Gun legislation is gaining momentum at the Oregon capitol. A Senate panel has scheduled a marathon hearing on a slate of measures that would require more background checks and limit where people could carry guns. The hearing is set for next Friday, April 5.

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Public Pensions
4:57 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Opponents Pack PERS Hearing In Salem

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 4:41 pm

SALEM, Ore. – Public employees in Oregon are voicing their objections to a measure aimed at cutting the cost of public pensions. They packed a legislative hearing in Salem Wednesday. Legislative budget-writers have floated a proposal that would limit cost of living increases for retired workers.

James Jacobsen is an administrative assistant in the College of Education at the University of Oregon. He expects to retire in about four years. And he says lawmakers are looking for cash in the wrong place.

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Oregon Raccoons
7:25 am
Wed March 27, 2013

The Politics Of Raccoons At The Oregon Capitol

Penh Gwyn Flickr

Originally published on Tue March 26, 2013 5:13 pm

SALEM, Ore. - Depending on who you ask, raccoons are either cute little woodland critters or a menace to pets and humans alike. There’s certainly no consensus on that question in the Oregon legislature. One measure in Salem would ban the feeding of raccoons. It’s an idea that’s proven to be surprisingly controversial.

Kristy Neubo has a small dog. She calls it "Baby. She's a little five-pound shih-tzu yorkie mix.

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Same-Sex Marriage
6:03 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Oregon Gay Marriage Opponents Say Initiative Would Have Unintended Consequences

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 5:41 pm

SALEM, Ore. – As the U.S. Supreme Court debates same-sex marriage Tuesday, activists on both sides of the issue in Oregon are working behind the scenes to craft language for a 2014 ballot initiative. Opponents claim the current wording would have unintended political consequences.

Here's the ballot measure phrase that gay marriage opponents have seized upon: "The state of Oregon and its political subdivisions shall issue marriage licenses to all couples."

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Public Pension Proposal
5:42 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Oregon Democrats Prepare For Backlash Against Public Pension Proposal

Oregon State Capitol in Salem
Credit Jessica Paterson / Flickr

Democrats in the Oregon legislature are bracing themselves for a backlash against a public pension cost cutting proposal they released Monday. The plan would create a sliding scale to cap cost of living increases for retired public workers. Budget-writers hope to apply the savings to education funding.

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