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.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.

Staff Sgt. Jason van Mourik / Oregon Military Department Public Affairs

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.

Google Earth

SALEM, Ore. – Some of Oregon’s voter-approved criminal sentencing laws would get a second look under a series of recommendations approved Monday by a high level commission. It’s part of a package of ideas aimed at slowing the growth of Oregon’s prison population.

The Commission on Public Safety didn't wholeheartedly endorse the proposal to scale back some voter-approved mandatory minimum sentences. Those include some types of robbery, assault and sex abuse. But the panel did list the strategy as one way for lawmakers to avoid having to open a costly new prison.

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers will consider a bill next year aimed at improving security measures at K-12 schools. Representative Mitch Greenlick says he has 16 co-sponsors on a proposal to create a state grant program for districts to tap into.

The Portland Democrat says the money could be used for things like video monitoring and keycard access systems for school entryways. Schools could also build perimeter fencing. Greenlick says even if the grant program doesn't cover every school in Oregon, it could still spur changes.

SALEM, Ore. - Governor John Kitzhaber called the Special Session after he said Nike was being courted by other states for a major expansion. The Democrat said he wanted lawmakers to authorize the governor to extend Nike an offer: In exchange for freezing the way Oregon calculates its taxes for as long as 30 years, Nike would agree to spend at least $150 million in capital improvements and expand by at least 500 jobs. Lawmakers grumbled about the short timeframe to consider the proposal, but in the end relatively few voted against it.

Jessica Paterson / Flickr

SALEM, OR. - The Oregon House has passed a bill designed to give sports apparel maker Nike special tax status. Governor John Kitzhaber called the legislature into Special Session in order to act quickly to ensure the Beaverton-based company didn't locate a major expansion in another state.

The measure allows the governor to guarantee that the state won't change the way Nike's corporate income taxes are calculated. In exchange, the company agrees to spend at least $150 million on its expansion, and create at least 150 jobs.

Brandon Carson / Flickr

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers are meeting in a rare Special Session to consider a proposal to give Nike a unique tax deal. The measure has passed out of committee but its ultimate fate remains unclear Friday afternoon.

Governor John Kitzhaber called lawmakers to the capitol and asked them to do this: Pass a law right away that would allow the governor to freeze the way Nike's Oregon income taxes are calculated, at least for a certain period of time. The Beaverton-based shoe-maker says it will launch a major expansion in the state in exchange for the tax freeze.

Chris Lehman

SALEM, Ore. – Protesters outside the Oregon capitol building Friday are urging lawmakers to reject a bill to give Nike special tax status. Lawmakers are meeting in Special Session to consider the measure. It would allow the governor to freeze the way Oregon calculates the shoe giant’s corporate income taxes. In exchange, the Beaverton-based company would promise to invest at least $150 million and expand by at least 500 jobs in Oregon. Protester Peter Bergel says Nike and other large companies don't need any special deals.

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