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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I-5 Bridge Funding
6:22 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Oregon Lawmakers Kick Off I-5 Bridge Replacement Debate

Columbia River Crossing

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 5:18 pm

SALEM, Ore. – Some legislative leaders in Salem are saying that the state may not have to raise any taxes or fees right away to replace the I-5 bridge over the Columbia River. Oregon could absorb the cost of paying for long-term bonds through existing funds -- for now, anyway.

Lawmakers did leave the door open to future increases in gas taxes or vehicle registration fees. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber testified Monday in front of a special legislative committee. It was created solely to consider a replacement for the aging I-5 spans between Portland and Vancouver.

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Oregon Same-Sex Marriage
4:20 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Oregon Same-Sex Marriage Supporters File Initiative For 2014

Chantal Andrea

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 4:18 pm

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon voters could decide next year whether to legally recognize same-sex marriages. Supporters of gay marriage submitted an initiative Monday aimed at putting such a question on the Oregon ballot in November of 2014.

Nine states including Washington issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But Oregon can't, since voters defined marriage as between one man and one woman nearly a decade ago. It would take a statewide vote to reverse that. So the gay rights group Basic Rights Oregon filed an initiative to overturn that Constitutional ban.

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Gun Rights
5:10 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Gun Rights Supporters Rally In Salem, Olympia

Virgil Negru legally brought his handgun and his rifle into the Oregon capitol building.
Chris Lehman

Hundreds of gun rights supporters rallied in support of their cause outside the state capitol buildings in Salem and Olympia Friday. They were there to express opposition to attempts by federal and state lawmakers to restrict the use of some weapons.

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Oregon Flag
4:40 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Oregon Man Designs New State Flag

Matt Norquist's proposed new Oregon flag.
Northwest News Network

One bill before the Oregon legislature this year would prompt the first redesign of the state flag in nearly a century.

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Malpractice Law
6:00 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Medical Liability Limit Set For Legislative Debate

Originally published on Sun February 3, 2013 7:07 pm

SALEM, Ore. - For decades, Oregon’s trial lawyers and doctors have battled over medical malpractice. Now, the state’s physician governor has brokered a deal aimed at reducing medical malpractice lawsuits. It’s one of the high-profile issues in the legislative session that gets underway Monday. But the state's medical community is deeply divided over the proposal.

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Bed Bugs
4:45 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Oregon Lawmakers May Look To Shield Bed Bug Data

Cimex lectularius - the common bed bug
Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Oregon businesses and homeowners who are battling bed bugs would get a new level of anonymity under a measure being considered in Salem. A House panel will take up a bill next week that would shield data about bed bugs from public disclosure.

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ORE Capital Upgrade Costs
6:03 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Oregon Lawmakers To Consider $250M Upgrade To Capitol

Jessica Paterson Flickr

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 5:44 pm

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon's state capitol building in Salem needs a $250 million overhaul to avoid being destroyed in a major earthquake. That was the message Monday from a panel that's been charged with coming up with a plan to renovate the 75-year-old building.

Former state lawmaker Gary Wilhelms chairs the committee. He says the overhaul would take years and be so massive that lawmakers would need a new home temporarily.

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Death Penalty Vote
4:54 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

Kitzhaber Urges Death Penalty Vote, Legislative Leaders Lukewarm

Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 3:21 pm

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is urging state lawmakers to send voters a measure to ban capital punishment. But in a meeting with reporters Tuesday, legislative leaders showed little enthusiasm for taking up the hot button issue.

When the governor put a moratorium on the death penalty in November of 2011, he also called on the legislature to debate the issue. With this year’s session now underway, the Governor didn't mince words when reporters at the state capitol asked him what he wants the legislature to do.

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Oregon Legislature Opens
5:57 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

New Speaker Makes History As Oregon Legislature Opens

The Oregon House convened Monday morning.
Credit Shaundd / Wikimedia Commons

The Oregon House convened Monday morning and quickly made history. Members elected Portland Democrat Tina Kotek to be their speaker.

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Ore. House Speaker
5:03 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Kotek Set To Make History As Nation's First Openly Lesbian House Speaker

Oregon Legislature

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 5:44 pm

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers are poised to make history Monday by electing the first ever openly lesbian Speaker of the House. Not just in Oregon, but in the country. Portland Democrat Tina Kotek will lead the chamber as lawmakers tackle the state budget, pension reform, and other issues. One issue not on her agenda: Same-sex marriage.

Kotek won't be the first openly gay person to lead a legislative chamber in the U.S. There have been at least four others. But she'll be the first woman. She calls that “humbling.”

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