Chris Lehman

Salem Correspondent

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage.  Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.

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.

The 2017 session of the Oregon Legislature kicks off Wednesday. Talk of how to bridge a budget gap of roughly $1.8 billion will dominate this year's session.

And the answer to that question likely won't be known for months.

Oregon state Rep. Vic Gilliam, a Republican from Silverton who is battling ALS, announced Monday that he's stepping down. His resignation is effective Wednesday, the first day of the 2017 legislative session.

A Portland program meant to recruit more foster parents in Oregon is expanding statewide.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said it's not clear what effect President Trump's executive order on sanctuary cities will have on state government. But the Democrat said she's committed to protecting the human rights of undocumented Oregonians.

Legislative leaders in Oregon are reacting to President Trump's executive order that threatens to withhold federal funding from cities that don't enforce immigration laws.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture said it's recorded the largest Japanese beetle infestation in the state's history. But officials hope to stop the pest from spreading with an aggressive eradication program.

The chief budget-writers for the Oregon Legislature have released a spending proposal that includes cuts to state programs. The proposal issued Thursday outlines how lawmakers might bridge an expected budget gap.

On Friday morning, Donald Trump will become president of the United States. The backlash against his election was intense in places like Portland and Seattle -- cities that overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton. But east of the Cascades, where support for Trump was widespread, opponents of the president-elect are working more quietly.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has declared a state of emergency for all of Oregon. It comes as communities around the state struggle with heavy snow and potential flooding.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown took the oath of office and delivered an inaugural address before a joint session of the Oregon Legislature Monday. In her speech, she signaled that she'll make a strong push toward getting a transportation funding package through the state legislature.

Members of the 2017 Oregon Legislature gathered in Salem Monday to take the oath of office. The five-month session kicks off February 1.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown will take the oath of office and deliver an inaugural address Monday.

Brown, a Democrat, became governor when John Kitzhaber resigned in February 2015. She was elected in November to serve the remaining two years of Kitzhaber's term.

This year's state legislature will be among the most diverse in Oregon history. Among the new crop of lawmakers is Teresa Alonso Leon, who immigrated from Mexico as a child and became a U.S. citizen just five years ago.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is looking for a new chief of staff heading into the 2017 legislative session. The governor's office announced Tuesday that Kristen Leonard will resign at the end of January.

Two people were killed in separate traffic crashes in Oregon Tuesday. That means 2016 is now the deadliest year on Oregon's roads in more than a decade.

The new year means a new slate of 18 laws will take effect in Oregon. That's a relatively small number because the 2016 legislative session was just five weeks long. Most of the bills that were passed during the session have taken effect already.

Oregon will soon have its first Republican secretary of state in more than three decades. Dennis Richardson is set to take the oath of office on Friday.

Oregon taxpayers who file returns as soon as possible in order to claim a refund may have to wait longer to get their cash in 2017. The Oregon Department of Revenue says it will hold onto state income tax refunds until February 15.

After Oregon voters approved recreational marijuana use for adults in 2014, there was no place to legally buy it until October of the following year. That's when a law kicked in that allowed dispensaries to sell to people without medical marijuana cards.

Oregon's agency devoted to economic development should provide more transparency about how its incentives are being used. That's one of the findings of an audit of Business Oregon released Monday by the Oregon Secretary of State's office.

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