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.

Oregon lawmakers kicked off a five-week legislative session Monday with a long "to do" list. But some at the Capitol think the legislature is overstepping its authority.

People from three Pacific island nations have the right to live and work in the United States, thanks to a unique 1986 treaty. But a separate Congressional action 20 years ago means that they are not eligible for Medicaid -- even those who become taxpayers.

Many have settled in Oregon, where lawmakers will consider a bill in February that would require the state to subsidize medical care for people from these nations.

The Marshall Islands are an independent nation made up of more than 1,000 small islands near the equator, about 2,000 miles southwest of Hawaii.

Oregon Secretary of State

On Monday, Oregon’s legislature reconvenes. Democratic lawmakers see the five-week-long  “short session” as a chance to wrap up unfinished business left over from last year’s full-length session.

But Republicans, who are in the minority, say the Dems are abusing their control of the legislature to push through a liberal agenda.

JPR’s Liam Moriarty talks with statehouse correspondent Chris Lehman to get a sense of what we can expect in the upcoming session.  

Oregon Governor Kate Brown wants state lawmakers to approve roughly $500,000 in emergency funding to cover costs associated with the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

The Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability said Monday Judge Vance Day should be removed from office after refusing to perform same-sex weddings. Day's spokesperson said in a statement that the judge would vigorously defend his innocence and his rights at the state's highest court.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum wants state lawmakers to fund a new set of investigators specializing in elder abuse cases. It comes as more than 150 prosecutors, attorneys and law enforcement officers meet to discuss elder abuse in Salem Tuesday.

The union-backed group that's seeking to increase taxes on some of Oregon's largest corporations is ramping up its signature collection efforts this weekend.

Thanks to a measure approved by Oregon lawmakers last summer, you’ll soon be able to legally drive faster on more than 1,500 miles of highways in Oregon. But while the bill sped through the legislature fairly quickly, there's a lot to be done before Oregon drivers can speed up.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has announced her support for a major hike in the state's minimum wage. Brown said she hopes her new proposal will encourage the backers of two initiative campaigns to lay down their signature-gathering pens.

Brown's proposal would raise the hourly minimum wage to $15.52 in the Portland metro area and $13.50 in the rest of the state. The increase would be phased in over the next six years.

An Oregon county is suing the state over forestry money. Commissioners from Linn County, located between Salem and Eugene, announced the $1.4 billion class-action lawsuit Wednesday at a press conference at the state Capitol.

Oregon is the only Northwest state that doesn't require businesses selling tobacco products to be licensed. One lawmaker is introducing a bill that would change that.

The two leading candidates for Oregon governor will hold competing fundraisers just down the street from each other Tuesday evening.

The state agency that manages hunting and fishing in Oregon is lacking a long-term strategy according to an audit by the Oregon Secretary of State's office released Thursday.

There's been a lot of interest in opening a licensed recreational marijuana business in Oregon. The state received nearly 200 paid submissions in the first two days since it began taking applications.

President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that he's taking executive action in an attempt to reduce gun violence. But his actions will mean few immediate changes for many gun buyers in the Northwest.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said she wants a "swift resolution" to the situation in Harney County. That's where an armed group has taken over the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Militants in eastern Oregon are getting little sympathy from Oregon lawmakers.

Starting Monday, shoppers in Oregon will find themselves in the unusual position of paying sales tax. But only if they're buying recreational marijuana.

A quirky fact about Oregon is that it's one of only two states in the nation that don't allow most drivers to pump their own fuel. But that's going to change in 2016 -- in a limited way.

Oregon cities and counties have until December 27 to act if they want to ban retail marijuana sales. More than 70 communities have already put their names on that list.

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