Chris Lehman

Oregon Correspondent

Chris stays on top of political developments in Salem, Oregon. 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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SALEM, Ore. – The state of Oregon is at odds with the federal government over how to use money from Japan meant for cleaning up tsunami debris. It can’t be used to reimburse the state for money it’s already spent.

The Japanese government donated $5 million to the US this fall to help pay for the cost of cleaning up debris from last year’s deadly tsunami. But Oregon hasn't seen a penny of that money so far.

SALEM, Ore. - Oregon lawmakers will convene in Special Session this Friday.  Governor John Kitzhaber announced Monday that the session is urgently needed to facilitate a major expansion of Oregon-based Nike.  Nike says it is on the verge of an expansion of its Oregon operations that could affect the Northwest economy.

PORTLAND – Two people, plus the suspected shooter, are dead after police say a gunman opened fire at a crowded shopping mall in suburban Portland Tuesday. An ambulance took one survivor of the attack to OHSU Medical Center in Portland. The young woman is expected to survive.

Feds silent so far on marijuana ballot measures

Oct 15, 2012
Virginia Alvino / N3

Two years ago, US Attorney General Eric Holder opposed a California initiative to legalize marijuana. But this year, the Justice Department has been silent on similar measures before voters in Washington, Oregon and Colorado. Monday, a group of former federal drug officials urged the Obama administration to weigh in.

Former Drug Enforcement Administration chief Peter Bensinger says if voters approve the marijuana legalization measures, they’ll put their residents at odds with federal drug laws.

The mural in downtown Corvallis, Ore., is big: 10 feet high and 100 feet long. One side shows a peaceful countryside setting in rural Taiwan. The other shows police beating protesters in Tibet and a Buddhist monk setting himself ablaze in protest.

SALEM, Ore. - A candidate for Oregon state Attorney General faces an unusual new opposition campaign. Democrat Dwight Holton has become the target of medical marijuana activists. Holton faces retired judge Ellen Rosenblum in the May Democratic primary.

Medical marijuana groups say Holton cracked down on marijuana growers and distributors during his time as a federal prosecutor. He served Oregon’s U.S. attorney for two years.

The Associated Press

A group that opposes same-sex marriage is taking its boycott of Starbucks to the other side of the world.

Cliff Mass

Spring arrives next week, but this week still looks like winter in Washington.

The National Weather Service says a front moving through the state Monday is bringing strong winds and rain to Western Washington, heavy snow to the Cascades and snow in much of north central and northeast Washington.

High winds knocked out power for tens of thousands of people in northwest Oregon and western Washington on Monday.

Tuesday's ruling overturning California’s ban on same-sex marriage is not expected to affect similar laws in other states. Oregon and Idaho also have voter-approved amendments against gay marriage.

But Washington lawmakers are poised to send Governor Chris Gregoire a measure allowing gays and lesbians to marry.

TIGARD, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers will consider a plan next month to consolidate the ways the state distributes its economic development dollars. Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler outlined Monday what he’s calling the "Oregon Investment Act."

The problem, says Ted Wheeler, isn't a lack of money.

Ted Wheeler: "There are in fact significant dollars allocated by the legislature towards economic development. But they're highly fragmented across different agencies. Not only are they fragmented and siloed, but they're inflexible."

Oregon's timber dependent counties are still hoping for a federal rescue. But they're creating contingency plans in case Congress doesn't come through with a replacement for historic timber revenue.

Officials from eight counties met with Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber Monday to discuss their options. Some counties say they could become insolvent in the next year without additional funding.

SALEM, Ore. - Local governments in Oregon's Willamette Valley have made various attempts at regional collaboration in the past few decades. Now, a group is trying to create a more formal relationship. City and county officials meet in Salem Monday to discuss a possible compact to band together on key issues.

The Willamette Valley stretches from Portland south to Eugene. It includes the state capitol and is known for its diverse agriculture. Some two-thirds of Oregon's population lives in the valley.

SALEM, Ore. - Oregon vote-by-mail system will be affected by plans to cut next-day delivery of first class mail. The US Postal Service announced that change in service Monday.

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown says once the new delivery standard takes effect, voters should mail their ballots by the Thursday prior to a Tuesday election, just to be safe.

But Brown says she still wants voters to have enough time to make up their minds. So she says she'll ask lawmakers to approve an earlier date for county elections offices to mail out ballots.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – The first inmate to be executed in Oregon since 1997 will have his hands wrapped in gauze to prevent any final obscene gestures. That's one detail that emerged Friday during a media tour of the state's execution chamber.

Michael Clapp / Northwest News Network

The research is clear that the key to keeping a mentally ill teen in treatment and out of trouble is early intervention. Yet, most counties in the Northwest do not offer comprehensive treatment to kids in the initial stages of a mental breakdown.

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