Opponents of a proposed 600-room Hyatt hotel at the Oregon Convention Center want voters to have a chance to weigh in on the project and its $78 million in taxpayer subsidies. They are currently in court battling Metro, the regional government that's backing the hotel and wants to avoid a vote.

Metro is now trying to sidestep the court battle by asking state lawmakers for a bill that would assure the project is exempt from a vote.

As first reported in this morning's Murmurs column, the measure has already passed the Senate.

Opponents, led by downtown hotelier Gordon Sondland, say the bill is dirty pool.

"Metro doesn't want required voter approval," says Peter Watts, a lawyer for the Sondland-led group, "because they know they can't sell the project to voters."

Senate Bill 64 says Metro's charter—which declares most of its capital projects are exempt from a vote—supersedes state requirements to send such projects to the ballot. In November, a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge ruled in Metro's favor on this jurisdictional dispute, but opponents have appealed.

Andy Shaw, chief of staff for Metro Council President Tom Hughes, says the bill removes any doubt about whether the hotel requires a public vote.

"We're going to take every step we can," Shaw says, "to make sure we get this important project finished."