Damn you, late afternoon terrible news!

Portland Representative Michael Dembrow's last-ditch effort to get tuition equity to a floor vote failed this afternoon when Democrats couldn't rally 31 legislators to sign a petition freeing the bill from the committee where Republicans have held it captive.

Immigration-reform advocates cheered a mighty cheer in March when the bill passed the Senate, applauding the plan to allow children of undocumented immigrants who graduate from high school in Oregon to pay in-state tuition at Oregon universities. Many undocumented immigrant teens find the cost of college makes attending university impossible.

But a perfectly partisan-divided House has caused the bill to never even get a vote in the House. Because the House is evenly split, Democrats and Republicans co-chair its committees, and the bill can't move out of committee unless both the co-chairs agree it should. Sadly for tuition equity, the Republican co-chair of the Rules committee is against the bill. Plus, anything having to do with immigration is a politically-volatile issue many House Republicans would rather not have to vote up or down on.

As we reported, the plan would actually make the state money, while giving immigrant kids a shot at a college education.

“It's an issue that should transcend politics, and yet here in Oregon, it's stuck in politics,” Rep. Dembrow told me yesterday. “Everything that touches upon immigration policy is toxic.”

This week's print news section (due out tomorrow) features an article on tuition equity and other good bills that have died.