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.

Taxes from marijuana sales continue to outpace expectations in Oregon. The state Department of Revenue Wednesday said the state has collected nearly $7 million in pot taxes so far this year.

Voters in two Oregon counties will decide in the May primary whether to allow marijuana-related businesses. County commissioners banned marijuana retailers and growers in unincorporated parts of Klamath and Grant counties last year.

When Tim McClure was 42 years old, he was convicted of illegally growing marijuana on his ranch near The Dalles, Oregon. And at this time last year, McClure was living with the shame of being a felon.

"I don't think it's the measure of me as a man,” McClure said 2015.

Keep your kicker or donate it?

Oregon taxpayers have the chance to donate their kicker rebate to fund state schools as they fill out their tax forms this year. But hardly anyone is choosing to do that. So far this tax season, less than one-half of one percent of Oregonians are choosing to donate their kicker.

More Oregon taxpayers than normal are facing a longer wait for their refund this year. But as a later-than-usual April 18 filing deadline approaches, the Oregon Department of Revenue said it's clearing out the backlog.

During her second State of the State address Friday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown renewed her call for the legislature to approve a massive transportation funding package.

National Weather Service

The Northwest is basking in an early taste of summer late this week. Highs are topping 80 degrees in parts of Oregon, Washington and Idaho. That could set records for the date in a lot of places.

Forecaster Colby Neuman with the National Weather Service in Portland said it's thanks to winds from the east that are blocking cooler air that typically spreads into the region from the ocean at this time of year. But Neuman added that the unseasonably warm weather isn't necessarily a sign of things to come.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown will deliver the 2016 State of the State address this Friday in Portland. It's her second one since taking office last year in the wake of John Kitzhaber's resignation.

So far Brown's office has released few details about what the governor will talk about.

The Northwest is in for an early taste of summer Thursday and Friday. Highs could top 80 degrees in parts of Oregon, Washington and Idaho. That would set records for the date in a lot of places.

Gavin Seim, a prominent supporter of the group that occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is kicking off a nationwide speaking tour in Oregon. He's asking fellow activists to pressure the government to release the occupiers who are awaiting trial in Oregon and Nevada.

Now that recreational marijuana is legal in Oregon, some activists and entrepreneurs are taking the next step: They're running for office themselves.

The Oregon primary is still more than a month away, but ballots are already going out in the mail to some voters. And starting Tuesday, campaigns will have to report finance transactions on a timelier basis.

The oil industry said it's backing down from an effort to overturn Oregon's clean fuels law at the ballot. Instead, the Oregon Fuels Association will try to get lawmakers to modify the law when they renew debate on a highway funding plan in 2017.

The effort to privatize liquor sales in Oregon cleared a hurdle Thursday when the state Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for initiative sponsors to gather signatures. The potential ballot measure is already raking in millions from the grocery industry.

Cape Kiwanda is an icon of the Oregon coast, but its jagged bluffs and towering dunes also tempt thrill-seekers to get too close to the edge.

The chair of the commission that regulates Oregon utilities says she won't seek appointment to another term and will step down in May. Susan Ackerman did not give a reason for her decision in a letter to Governor Kate Brown Friday.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has appointed a director for the state's largest agency. The Democrat is choosing Clyde Saiki to take the helm at the Department of Human Services.

Republican Allen Alley waited until the last minute to enter the Oregon governor's race. But he isn't wasting any time raising money.

The state flag of Mississippi is no longer flying outside the Oregon capitol. It was removed this week at the request of legislative leaders.

The list of iconic movies filmed at least partly in Oregon is long. It includes “The Goonies,” “Animal House,” and more recently, “Wild” starring Reese Witherspoon.

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