Special Session Called: Civil Unions One of the Issues
The final 24-hour period of the 2012 legislative session will be remembered for years to come. In a nutshell, supporters of SB-002, a bill that would have authorized civil unions for same-sex couples in Colorado, hoped to see the bill go to a second-reading vote of the entire House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 8. The last day of our regular session is May 9, and the House would have needed to pass a second reading on May 8th for it to face the third-reading vote that would be necessary for passage on May 9.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that SB-002 had already passed three House committees, Speaker of the House Frank McNulty did not allow the bill to be heard on the House floor on May 8. Also, roughly 25 other bills on a variety of topics were not heard on May 8, which meant in essence that the bills as written would not go forward during this regular session. Among the bills were "my" SB-155, which would have set rules for Colorado Open Records Act requests for ballot information, and SB-164, which would have set new statutory regulations for private institutions of higher education in Colorado. Republican and Democratic leadership squabbled during the evening about SB-002 and the other bills, but both sides stood their respective ground and none of the bills went forward. Click here for a Denver Post/Associated Press account of Tuesday's House session, and click here for a Post editorial regarding Speaker McNulty's course of action.
Legislators and citizen supporters of SB-002 gather on the West Steps of the Capitol on May 8, 2012.
Needless to say, supporters of civil unions were extremely disappointed, but they weren't the only ones. Many people contacted Gov. John Hickenlooper's office, asking him to call a special session so SB-002 could be given a full and fair hearing, and on Wednesday, Gov. Hickenlooper obliged.
During a well-attended press conference on May 9, Gov. Hickenlooper announced that he would call a special session, with the topic of civil unions to be at least one of the issues of deliberation. Other details were not clear as of late afternoon on May 9, including when the special session would begin and what other topics might be included in the session. Also on May 9, legislators spent a great deal of the last day of the regular session trying to see if the other legislation that was held back on May 8 could be salvaged before the session ended.
I appreciate the determination of civil union supporters, and I believe Gov. Hickenlooper made the right call on Wednesday. I will continue to update this Web site when I learn more about my sponsored legislation from the regular session and about details regarding the special session.