Chris M Lehman

News Reporter

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”

Chris has been to all 50 states and every Canadian province. He’s also traveled abroad extensively. He lives in Keizer with his wife, three children, and a handful of backyard chickens. 

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Chris Lehman / KLCC

Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney said Tuesday that even if Republicans returned to the Capitol, there still would not be enough votes to pass a massive cap-and-trade bill.

Senator Floyd Prozanski

As the walkout by Oregon Senate Republicans continues, longtime Eugene Democratic Sen. Floyd Prozanski says he thinks the tactic could signal a “new norm” for Oregon politics.

Senate Republicans have left the state in protest of a bill that would regulate carbon emissions. Their absence denies the majority Democrats a quorum, meaning the Senate can’t meet to vote on bills.

Oregon State University

Oregon’s public universities and community colleges are getting a funding boost thanks to a spending plan approved in the Oregon House Thursday. But the fate of the measure is uncertain amid political drama at the Capitol.

While the higher ed community was pushing for even more funding, the budget bill moving forward in the legislature included enough to allow some schools to partly dial back tuition increases set to kick in next fall.

Chris Lehman / KLCC

Hundreds of truckers and loggers held a protest at the Oregon capitol Wednesday to show their opposition to a bill that would regulate carbon emissions. House Bill 2020 was approved by the House on Monday and could come up for a vote in the Senate as soon as Thursday.

Log truck driver Steven Wilks of Tillamook says he’s concerned about his livelihood. “It would devastate all of Oregon because of the loss of jobs in all the rural areas,” he said.

Rachael McDonald / KLCC

Gas-powered leaf blowers would be banned in Oregon under a bill that got a hearing Tuesday at the state capitol. But the measure is already dead this session.

File photo

Oregonians could vote next year on whether to increase taxes on cigarettes and cigars. A legislative committee advanced a measure Tuesday that would hike the tobacco tax, and create a new tax on vaping products.

Chris Lehman / KLCC

Oregon lawmakers have decided not to regulate kratom, a drug widely sold at convenience stores.

Oregon lawmakers are moving forward with a bill that would provide free in-home visits from nurses to parents of newborn babies. 

Oregon Department of Energy

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s proposal to eliminate the Oregon Department of Energy appears to be going nowhere. The Democrat had proposed in her budget to end funding for the agency, which was created in 1975.  

Her idea was to roll many of its functions into a new agency called the Oregon Climate Authority. That agency would have managed the state’s clean energy strategies, including a possible new cap-and-trade program.

Oregon voters could decide the fate of a new business tax during a special election in January. That’s according to an amendment approved Wednesday in the Senate Rules Committee.

Chris Lehman / KLCC

Oregon has joined the growing number of states that have agreed to award their Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes nationwide. It means Oregon could potentially give its seven Electoral College votes to someone who did not win the state.

The idea behind the multi-state compact is to prevent situations where the winner of the national popular vote does not become president. That’s happened twice in the past 20 years.

Leaburg Hatchery

An Oregon lawmaker thinks he’s come up with a solution to keep the Leaburg Fish Hatchery open: Turn it into a state park. 

University of Oregon

Oregon colleges and universities are set to receive a funding boost after a key legislative budget panel approved a spending plan Tuesday.

Oregon lawmakers have less than three weeks to finish their work during the current legislative session. With the clock counting down, they have a long list of items still on their agenda.

Chief among the unfinished work at the capitol are budget bills for most of the state’s largest agencies, including the Department of Human Services, the Oregon Health Authority, and the Department of Corrections. In Oregon, each agency gets its own separate two-year budget. There's no overarching budget bill that covers all functions of state government.

Chris Lehman / KLCC

County clerks in Oregon would face new limits on putting their names on elections materials under a bill approved Monday in the Oregon House.  Senate Bill 670 would prohibit elections officials from putting their name on things like ballot return envelopes and instructional materials sent to voters. The restriction would only apply when those officials are themselves on the ballot.

Junction City

Oregon lawmakers have signed off on a plan to keep most of the state in daylight saving time year-round.

National Park Service.

A measure that would ban coyote-hunting contests is advancing in Salem after the Oregon Senate approved it Wednesday.

Coyotes are a pain in the neck for ranchers, who lose young cattle and sheep to the wily predator. Some eastern Oregon competitions have awarded prizes, including cash and hunting rifles, to whoever can kill the most coyotes.

Supporters of the bill to ban such contests pointed out the bill does not prevent ranchers and others from hunting coyotes. It simply bans contests.

Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

The fate of the Leaburg Fish Hatchery in eastern Lane County is one step closer to being sealed. A budget subcommittee at the Oregon legislature rejected an amendment Tuesday aimed at keeping the facility open past the end of June.

Sen. Kathleen Taylor, D-Milwaukie, co-chairs the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources. She told a hearing room full of supporters who had gathered to watch the vote that the proposal by Rep. Cedric Hayden, R-Roseburg, to keep the hatchery open would fail.

Chris Lehman / KLCC

Supporters of the Leaburg Fish Hatchery in eastern Lane County are making a last-ditch appeal to Oregon lawmakers to keep it open. A legislative budget committee could vote as soon as Tuesday on whether to save the nearly 70-year-old facility along the McKenzie River 20 miles east of Springfield.

For years, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife operated the facility under a federal contract. The federal government pulled out of that contract last year, which means it would take state funding to keep it open.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Oregon Senate is set to vote Tuesday on Senate Bill 723, a measure that would ban coyote hunting contests.

Coyotes can be hunted year-round in Oregon, and current regulations do not limit the number of coyotes hunters can kill. The predators are the scourge of ranchers, said Sen. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario.

“This is not an endangered species," said Bentz. "We have a lot of coyotes.”

Rachael McDonald / KLCC

A bill meant to give victims of workplace harassment more rights is on its way to Oregon Governor Kate Brown. The Oregon House voted unanimously on Thursday to approve the measure, which earlier passed the Senate.

Chris Lehman / KLCC

A bill that would ban single-use plastic bags at the checkout stand in Oregon is one step closer to becoming law. A legislative committee voted Wednesday to send House Bill 2509 to a vote on the Senate floor.

The measure would ban retail stores from bagging their goods in single-use plastic bags. Customers could bring their own reusable bag, or the store could sell them paper bags at a nickel apiece.

Chris Lehman / KLCC

Lawmakers in Salem are considering a plan to potentially make money off the official seal of the state of Oregon.

(Wikimedia Commons)

Hotel guests in Benton County will soon pay more. The Board of Commissioners voted this week to enact a three percent lodging tax starting July 1.

Brian Bull / KLCC

Oregon lawmakers want the state’s college and universities to get serious about making sure that textbooks are affordable. They're advancing a measure that would require schools to create a plan to bring down the cost of textbooks, which can add up to hundreds of dollars a semester.

Chris Lehman / KLCC

Some terminally ill patients could bypass the 15-day waiting period for the Death With Dignity Act under a bill approved Monday in the Oregon Senate.

Chris Lehman / KLCC

An effort to overturn a plastic bag ban in Newport has come up short. It means the city’s ordinance will take effect in July as planned.

Newport’s ban resembles many others around the state: Single-use plastic bags can’t be given to customers at the checkout stand. People in the coastal community voted against such a ban in 2013, but the city council approved it again this April following a renewed effort by advocates.

Brian Bull / KLCC

If you want to vote in the May 21 election, you’ll have to return your ballot by using a drop box. It’s too late to mail ballots to ensure they’ll arrive on time.

wikipedia commons

Government bodies would have a financial incentive to respond to public records requests under a bill moving through the Oregon legislature.

Under existing Oregon law, local governments and state agencies have to provide public records within 15 days of being asked, with some exceptions. House Bill 2353 would allow Oregon’s attorney general, judges or district attorneys to levy a $200 fine on government bodies that don’t respond quickly enough.

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Oregon lawmakers are considering a proposal to end a tax break on money lost by gambling.

When gamblers win money, they have to pay taxes on it. But when they lose money, they can deduct it from their taxable income, as long as the losses aren’t more than the amount they won. It’s a tax break that costs the state of Oregon nearly $6 million per year.

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