Chris Lehman

Salem Correspondent

Chris stays on top of political developments in Salem. But that's not all he does. Breaking news from central Oregon to the Pacific Coast is fair game for this versatile reporter.

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Wildfire Season
1:00 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Start A Wildfire? Expect A Bill

File photo of 2013's Little Queens Fire near the town of Atlanta, Idaho.
Inciweb

Whether it’s due to negligence or arson, thousands of wildfires each year are caused by humans. And the person or business who starts a fire can expect a bill.

Jeff Bonebrake is with the Oregon Department of Forestry. It's his job to investigate how a fire started. Once that’s pinned down, he figures out who pays and how much. He says the bulk of the charges are for firefighter salaries and equipment use.

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Marijuana Campaign
11:52 am
Mon July 7, 2014

Oregon Marijuana Campaign Would Like Some Of Your Bitcoin Stash

File image
Ed Andrieski AP Photo

An Oregon political campaign wants your digital donations. The group behind the initiative to legalize recreational marijuana says it's now accepting bitcoin contributions.

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Clean Waterways
1:39 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Farmers Object To EPA's Proposed Changes To Clean Water Act

Angela Bailey farms decorative trees and shrubs near Gresham, Oregon.
Chris Lehman

Farmers across the country are riled up over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to revise the 1972 Clean Water Act.

Depending on who you talk to, these revisions are either a “land grab” under the “brute force” of the federal government or a simple clarification of rules that ensure all Americans have clean water to drink.

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Food Labeling
3:49 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Supporters Of Oregon's Food Labeling Measure Submit Signatures

File image
Toby Talbot AP Photo

Oregon voters may get the chance to require food companies to label products that contain genetically engineered ingredients.

Sponsors of an initiative to require labels turned in more than 150,000 signatures — nearly double the required minimum — Wednesday in an effort to make the ballot this November. Opponents have already denounced the measure.

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Health & Safety
11:02 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Fire Season Increases Potential For Hazardous Smoke

File — This photo shows a 2013 fire in the Douglas Complex in southern Oregon.
Douglas Forest Protective Association

Hot and dry conditions are expected to create above-normal wildfire conditions in parts of the Northwest this summer. While relatively few people will have to flee the flames, many more will experience a side effect of the fires: thick, acrid smoke.

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Environment
4:41 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Redwood Burl Poaching Spreads To Oregon

This file photo provided by the National Park Service shows a wildlife biologist standing next to a massive scar where a burl has been cut by poachers from an old growth redwood tree in the Redwood National and State Parks.
AP Photo/Redwood National and State Parks, Laura Denn

Redwood burl poaching has long been an issue in the Redwood National Park in California. But now a conservation group says it has spotted evidence of this type of tree damage in a national forest in Oregon.

Burls are the knobby growths sometimes found at the base of the towering trees. They're highly valued for their intricate designs; cross-sections are used to make furniture or artwork.

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Politics
9:27 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Northwest Lawmakers Likely Not In Running For House Majority Position

File image of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.
Susan Walsh AP Photo

The surprising upset for House Majority leader Eric Cantor has the GOP looking for a possible successor.

Pundits are already throwing a few names around as possible replacements, including two Northwest lawmakers who have prominent roles in the House Republican leadership. But neither is likely to seek a promotion.

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Life Behind Bars
9:32 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Oregon Has Highest Rate Of Prisoners With Post-Release Supervision

Fewer prisoners serve their entire prison sentence behind bars in Oregon than in any other state according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Oregon also supervises its newly released inmates more than any other state. 

Just a handful of prison inmates in Oregon serve their entire sentence behind bars. The vast majority are released under some form of post-prison supervision.

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Same-Sex Marriage
3:28 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Won't Block Oregon Same-Sex Marriage

Julia Fraser, left, and Jessica Rohrbacher get married by Celebrant Holly Pruett at the Melody Ballroom in Portland, Ore., on Monday, May. 19, 2014.
Steve Dykes AP Photo

The U.S. Supreme Court won't block same-sex marriages in Oregon. The high court on Wednesday turned down a request to halt gay marriages in the state. 

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Same-Sex Marriage
9:57 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Weddings Begin As Oregon Judge Overturns Gay Marriage Ban

Julia Fraser hugs a family member after getting married as Jessica Rohrbacher, right, walks behind after get married at the Melody Ballroom in Portland, Ore., on Monday, May 19, 2014.
Steve Dykes AP Photo

Same-sex couples are getting married in Oregon now that a federal judge has overturned the state's ban on gay marriage.

Shortly after noon on Monday, the news broke to crowds gathered in Portland that U.S. District Judge Michael McShane ruled the law violated the federal constitutional rights of gays and lesbians.

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Same-Sex Marriage
12:33 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Judge's Ruling Clears Way For Same-Sex Weddings In Oregon

Supporters of same-sex marriage gathered outside a federal courthouse in Eugene prior to a hearing in the case.
Chris Lehman

Same-sex couples can now marry legally in Oregon after a federal judge Monday overturned the state's ban on gay marriage.

Weddings began almost immediately. County clerks started issuing marriage licenses minutes after U.S. District Judge Michael McShane issued his opinion. Same-sex couples lined up outside marriage license offices in Portland and Eugene in anticipation of a ruling in their favor.

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Housing Market
4:36 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Northwest Mirrors National Shift Away From Single-Family Homes

Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP Photo

New housing starts are a key economic indicator, but not all new houses are created the same. A new report issued Friday shows Washington and Oregon are following a national shift away from single-family homes toward more apartment complexes.

Multi-family buildings, defined as those with five housing units or more, make up more than one-third of new residential construction in both states. The number has nearly doubled over the past decade.

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Same-Sex Marriage
12:22 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Oregon Judge Denies Motion To Intervene In Gay Marriage Case

Plaintiffs gathered outside the courthouse to celebrate the denial of the motion to intervene.
Chris Lehman

A federal judge in Eugene, Oregon has denied a national group's attempt to defend Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage. U.S. District Judge Michael McShane said the National Organization of Marriage failed to prove why it should be allowed to intervene in the case.

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Early Childhood Education
10:10 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Pre-K Enrollment Down, Especially Low In Northwest

FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 photo, Bryson Payne, 4, left, and his teacher Jacqualine Sanchez, center, play with pretend food in a pre-kindergarten class at the Sheltering Arms Learning Center in New York.
Seth Wenig AP Photo

The number of preschoolers enrolled in state-funded early childhood education programs is dropping nationally. A national study released Tuesday shows that Northwest states are holding steady in terms of overall enrollment but continue to rank near the bottom in some key areas.

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Same-Sex Marriage
11:13 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Hearing Could Provide Answers In Oregon Gay Marriage Debate

Wednesday could be a big day in the fight to legalize same-sex marriage in Oregon. A federal judge in Eugene will hear arguments from a group that wants to defend a voter-approved ban on gay marriage. 

Four same-sex couples sued the state to overturn the 2004 ballot measure that defined marriage as only between one man and one woman. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum declined to defend the law. As a result, a national group filed a last-minute motion to be allowed to defend the measure on the state's behalf.

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