Special Session Ends: No Civil Unions in 2012

The results of our 2012 special legislative session weren't exactly what many people had hoped for, but we finished our business in three days and passed some important legislation. Gov. John Hickenlooper called the session on May 10, noting that House leadership did not bring SB-002 (authorizing civil unions) and nearly 30 other bills to the House floor on May 8 for a fair and full hearing. As a result, SB-002 and most of the other bills died as time ran out on the regular session, unless bills could be combined into other pieces of legislation.

Supporters of civil unions at Capitol

Supporters of civil unions gather at the Capitol for a rally on May 8, 2012

We started the special session on the morning of May 14 as planned, but it soon became obvious that the new civil unions bill, HB S12-1005, would not pass either. Speaker of the House Frank McNulty assigned the bill to a committee with membership that would certainly defeat the bill, and it died on a 5-4 straight party-line vote - once again not advancing to a vote of the entire House.

While the defeat of civil unions was again incredibly disappointing, we did pass three key bills through the House and Senate during this special session, although Gov. Hickenlooper had not yet signed them into law as of May 17:

Senate Bill 12S-001: This bill pertained to registration of Special Mobile Machinery (SMM) vehicles, defined in short as vehicles not designed to transport passengers or cargo on the roadways. Gov. Hickenlooper's special session proclamation suggested that lawmakers should consider streamlining the SMM registration process, and SB-001 would accomplish that, in part by allowing owners of 10 or more SMM vehicles to register only once per year.

Senate Bill 12S-002: This bill would authorize funding for a number of key Water Consservation Board projects, also a topic called out in Gov. Hickenlooper's proclamation. SB-002 identified more than a dozen water projects, including $30 million for a project to rehabilitate the Rio Grande and Beaver Park reservoirs in the San Luis Valley, $13 million for a Chatfield Reservoir reallocation project, and $2 million for continuation of the Colorado River water availability study.

House Bill 12S-1002: The bill would help the state's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund return to solvency by allowing employers to receive credit for repayment of principal-related bonding amounts. Passing HB-1002 could also allow businesses to enjoy reductions in unemployment insurance premiums.

The special session ended in the afternoon of May 16, also bringing to an end the active legislative portion of my fourth session as a senator. I'll continue to provide updates about the progress of 2012 legislation on this Web site, and I'm also looking forward to spending time in Boulder and seeing some of you over the summer!

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