Amid all the wheeling and dealing in Salem toward the "grand bargain" Gov. John Kitzhaber
and legislative leaders hashed out this week, the Oregon Senate did something it rarely does—it spiked a list of gubernatorial appointees.
Earlier this year, legislators passed Senate Bill 270, which gave Oregon's three largest universities independent boards for the first time. That change was part of Kitzhaber's effort to give the universities greater autonomy.
Yesterday, during the interim legislative session senators considered the 14-member slate Kitzhaber proposed for each university. Normally, such nominations would gain easy approval, since Democrats hold a 16-14 margin and those Democratic members would vote with the governor, who is also a Democrat.
But three Democrats were absent from the floor session.
Kitzhaber's spokesman, Tim Raphael, says the governor's staff believed it had sufficient Republican support to approve the nominees anyway but GOP senators locked up and voted against the nominees.
Republicans objected to a late-stage amendment to the legislation that would have included a faculty member on each board. Although the law prohibits faculty members from discussing or voting on collective bargaining issues such as pay or benefits, GOP senators did not like the idea of faculty having a vote, Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli explained in a floor speech.
"We’re disappointed in the outcome," Raphael says. "We will probably wait to move this through in the November interim session."