Tuesday, August 07, 2007

House Leaders will reject Fletcher's CPE appointments

Megan Boehnke and John Stamper over at the Herald Leader's Pol Watchers blog reports:
House leaders say they won't approve Fletcher's CPE appointments

The state's Democratic-controlled House of Representatives will not approve three of the governor's recent appointees to the board that oversees state universities because they are not female Democrats, the chamber's Education Committee chairman said today.

Rep. Frank Rasche, D-Paducah, said he is sending a letter to Gov. Ernie Fletcher today, telling him that his July appointees do not comply with statutes requiring the Council on Postsecondary Education to have equal numbers of men and women and to reflect the political party affiliation of the state's voters.

Fifty-seven percent of the state’s registered voters are Democrats and 37 percent are Republicans.

“Because of the statutory language and its mandates, this latest group is not acceptable,” Rasche said.

Fletcher appointed four new members -- two Democrats, one Republican and one independent as of 2006 -- to the board and re-appointed one Republican.

The issue first came to light Saturday, when House Speaker Jody Richards accused Fletcher of ignoring the law in a morning speech to Democrats in Mayfield.

"They're just simply breaking the law," Richards, D-Bowling Green, said in an interview later Saturday. "We're not going to accept those."

Fletcher’s press secretary, Jodi Whitaker, said yesterday that if the House or Senate has concerns about the nominees, “it's completely their prerogative to look at that when it comes time for confirmation.”

“That's why there's a system of checks and balances in place,” she said.

Whitaker noted that the House has confirmed Fletcher's six previous appointments, which included five Republicans and one Democrat.

Of the board’s 16 members, the governor appoints 13, who then must be confirmed by the House and the Senate.

Rasche said the governor could keep one of his Democratic nominees, but would have to reappoint the other three vacancies.

But even if all four appointees are Democrats, the board still won’t reflect the state’s voter population, he said.

KRS 164.011 also requires the board to be racially and geographically diverse and for its members to hold degrees from different state institutions. Those requirements are satisfied, Rasche said.

John S. Turner, chair of the board, said it is important for the make up of members to be complaint with the law, although he downplayed the importance of diversity in political affiliation.

“What's more important is to get people who are willing to be engaged and have a real passion for post secondary education," he said, adding that members need to be "willing to invest time and effort to be conversant and up to speed" on educational issues.

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