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 freelance basis. He's filed stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda. He lives in Salem with his wife and children.

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Oregon Legislature

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

Kotek becomes the first openly gay woman in the nation to lead a state legislative chamber. Kotek took the oath of office next to her partner, Aimee Wilson.

But the four-term state representative didn't mention her history-making status in her opening address to lawmakers. She did encourage House members to tackle tough issues head-on.

Jessica Paterson / Flickr

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers return to Salem Monday for a legislative session that's expected to be full of debate over economic and public safety issues. Democrats will control both chambers of the legislature and the governor's office, but that doesn't mean there won't be disagreements.

Oregon Legislature

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.”

Oregon Department of Transportation

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.

SoulRider.222 / Flickr

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.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has been on a roll. Halfway through his unprecedented third term, he's ushered in major changes to Oregon schools and the state’s health care system. Last month he won a special tax deal for Nike. But on the eve of the upcoming legislative session, Kitzhaber isn't saying whether he's preparing for his final act in Oregon politics, or setting the stage to run yet again.

Jessica Paterson / Flickr

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.

Oregon.gov

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."

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

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.

Kevin Mooney / Northwest News Network

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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