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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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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Oregon Governor Salary
5:41 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Kitzhaber Seeks Permission To Moonlight

Oregon Department of Transportation

Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 5:28 pm

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber wants permission to make a little extra cash on the side. The state's Ethics Commission is poised to sign off on the Democrat's request to earn money through out-of-state speaking engagements.

During the eight years between his second and third terms as governor, John Kitzhaber became a nationally sought-after speaker on health care policy. The governor recently asked the state's ethics panel it would be okay, now that he's in office, to continue to accept such invitations.

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License Plate Checks
4:46 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Oregon Supreme Court Allows Continued Use Of Random License Plate Checks

SoulRider.222 Flickr

Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 4:39 pm

SALEM, Ore. – Police officers in Oregon can continue to use random license plate checks as a law enforcement tool. That's the upshot of a decision issued Thursday by the Oregon Supreme Court.

Have you ever been stopped at a red light and noticed a police car in your rearview mirror? There's a good chance that officer is running your license plate number through his or her computer. In seconds a state database can show if everything's kosher about your car. If not, you'll probably get pulled over.

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Oregon Officials
4:54 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Four Oregon Statewide Officials Jointly Take Oath Of Office

Oregon.gov

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 1:13 pm

SALEM, Ore. – Four of Oregon's statewide elected officials jointly took the oath of office Friday. Secretary of State Kate Brown, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum were all re-elected in November.

Rosenblum noted that the event was a bit of déjà vu. That's because she first took the oath last June when she was appointed to fill out the remainder of John Kroger's term.

"Today, I am genuinely thrilled to be here, taking the oath for a second time, but for the first as your elected Attorney General."

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Medical Malpractice Insurance
4:12 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Oregon Lawmakers To Take Up Medical Malpractice Proposal

Jessica Paterson Flickr

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 1:07 pm

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers will consider a possible cure for a chronic pain in the neck for doctors and hospitals. Governor John Kitzhaber says he's helped broker a deal between lawyers and doctors about curbing the cost of liability insurance.

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Sandy Hook Victims Remebered
4:33 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Northwesteners Pause To Remember Sandy Hook Victims

Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 2:54 pm

SALEM, Ore. – One week after 26 people were shot and killed at a Connecticut elementary school, Northwesterners paused to remember the victims. The Governors of Oregon, Washington and Idaho asked their citizens to observe a moment of silence Friday morning. Afterward, many churches rang their bells 26 times to honor those who died.

These bells rang out at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Salem. Shawn Murray stood on the sidewalk and listened silently.

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Oregon Tax Initiative
4:42 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Anti-Tax Group Wants To Force Elections On Tax Hikes

Kevin Mooney Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 1:08 pm

SALEM, Ore. – Initiative activists in Oregon are already looking to the 2014 ballot. One of the early ideas: Require voter approval for nearly all tax increases.

The Taxpayer Association of Oregon is a long way from qualifying its initiative for the ballot. It would require any proposed tax increase that would raise more than $5 million a year statewide to go before voters. The current requirement for tax hikes is that they have to be approved by at least three-fifths of the legislature.

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Tsunami Debris Money
5:23 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Oregon At Odds With Federal Government Over Japanese Tsunami Gift

Staff Sgt. Jason van Mourik Oregon Military Department Public Affairs

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 5:20 pm

SALEM, Ore. – The state of Oregon is at odds with the federal government over how to use money from Japan meant for cleaning up tsunami debris. It can’t be used to reimburse the state for money it’s already spent.

The Japanese government donated $5 million to the US this fall to help pay for the cost of cleaning up debris from last year’s deadly tsunami. But Oregon hasn't seen a penny of that money so far.

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