Source: Anna Staver / Statesman Journal

A bill that would have allowed Oregon high schools to keep their Native American mascots re-emerged Monday during negotiations for special session votes.

Gov. John Kitzhaber vetoed Senate Bill 215 in August. The law would have superseded a 2012 ruling by the state Board of Education that gave public schools five years to replace tribal mascot names such as Braves, and images of chiefs in profile or headdress. The mascot bill granted 15 Oregon high schools permission to work with neighboring tribes on mascots and names that were acceptable to both.

Procedurally, the vetoed bill is entitled to an override vote, but choosing to add it to the growing list of special session votes rather than waiting for the 2014 session caught some lawmakers off-guard.

Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, sponsored the mascot bill during the 2013 legislative session. He said overriding Kitzhaber’s veto was on the table during negotiations at Mahonia Hall earlier this month, but Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, cautioned it could “blow up” the special session. Courtney was not immediately available for comment.

When the special package crafted by leadership during the Mahonia Hall negotiations appeared to fall apart Sunday night, Kruse said talks turned to resurrecting the veto override. He thought Democrats could use the override as a bargaining chip to help garner needed votes on the tax bill included in the special session package.

“I know it’s heavy lifting” asking Democrats to “throw sand in the face of the governor,” Kruse said. “If the full meal deal is back on the table, I’m going to go for an override.”

Rep. Jason Conger, R-Bend, said he would vote to override the governor’s veto, but that wouldn’t change his mind on the tax package.

“I don’t know that there is a bargaining chip for me,” Conger said. “I think people are going to support (the veto override) because (the bill) is good policy.”

Rep. Sherrie Sprenger, R-Scio, who strongly supported the mascot bill and urged the governor not to veto it, said she wasn’t ready to comment on the potential for an override.


Schools affected:

Amity (Warriors); Banks (Braves); Lebanon (Warriors); Marcola (Mohawks); Molalla (Indians); North Douglas (Warriors); Oakridge (Warriors); Philomath (Warriors); Reedsport Charter School (Braves); Rogue River (Chieftains); Roseburg (Indians); Scappoose (Indians); Siletz Valley (Warriors); The Dalles (Wahtonka)

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