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Colo. Civil Unions: Special Legislative Session Begins Monday

Posted: 05/14/2012 9:33 am Updated: 05/14/2012 4:50 pm

Civil Unions Colorado
Partners Anna Simon, left, and Fran Simon embrace at a rally in support of Civil Unions at the Capitol in Denver on Tuesday, May 8, 2012. The rally pushed for the passage of a Civil Unions bill that must be debated on the House floor before it can be passed on Wednesday the final day of the Legislative session. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

Colorado's lawmakers are going back to work this morning to decide the fate of seven bills during a special legislative session that Gov. John Hickenlooper called last week after House Republican leadership killed more than 30 bills, including the same-sex civil unions bill.

UPDATE:

House Speaker Frank McNulty has assigned the civil unions bill to the Veterans and Military Affairs committee -- what is being called a "kill committee" -- where it is expected to die. Read the full report here.

EARLIER:

Although there are seven bills up for vote, Colorado's civil unions bill is the one in the spotlight. Last Tuesday, despite bipartisan support and the bill's successful passage through the state Senate and three House committees, Speaker of the House Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) refused to call up the civil unions bill and let it die as the regular legislative session ended last week. And now that the special session has been called, many speculate if McNulty--a practicing Catholic who refuses to even use the term "civil unions"--will give the bill a fair shake this second time around.

The civil unions bill is expected to be introduced in the House Monday, but it is Speaker McNulty's decision to have the full House vote on the bill, which is what supporters of the bill want to happen, or to have it go to a House committee first where it could be killed quickly.

The civil unions bill does not just has bipartisan support in the state legislature, it is also widely supported by Coloradans -- a recent poll by Public Policy Polling showed that 62 percent of Coloradans said they are in favor of the civil unions bill, while 53 percent said they would like to take it a step further and just legalize gay marriage. According to Fox31, political analysts say that McNulty will have to decide for himself whether he wants to allow a full and fair debate or "become the face of the anti-gay rights movement in Colorado."

But Hickenlooper is putting the pressure on lawmakers to take action and not avoid it by letting bills die without a fair debate, telling them in a letter he sent to the General Assembly, "Transparency, accountability and the virtues of good government are compromised when the legislative clock is used to avoid consideration of important legislation. We owe it to the people we serve to do better," 7News reported.

“Much of this legislation had significant bipartisan support and addressed subject matter crucial to the people of Colorado and the effective, efficient operation of state government,” Hickenlooper wrote in an executive order. “The ramifications of the General Assembly’s inability to take up the business of its people will negatively impact the State of Colorado and hamper its ability to serve its people. These extraordinary circumstances require a special session of the General Assembly.”

The seven bills to be considered by the special legislative session:

  • Funding of Colorado Water Conservation Board projects.
  • Penalties for persons who drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Authorization of civil unions.
  • Administration of the unemployment insurance program to stabilize unemployment insurance rates, facilitating the issuance of unemployment revenue bonds and accelerating the creation of the Division of Unemployment Insurance in the Department of Labor and Employment.
  • Creating “benefit corporations” in Colorado.
  • Registering Special Mobile Machinery Fleets.
  • Submitting to the registered electors of the State of Colorado an amendment to the Colorado Constitution repealing provisions deemed obsolete.

The special session does not come cheap -- it will cost $23,500 per day, but there are 15 days already budgeted for the current fiscal year without any additional cost taxpayers, according to a press release from the governor's office. However, it's possible that the session could run longer -- it's entirely up to the amount of time it takes the lawmakers to debate and vote on these issues.

However, as Hickenlooper said in his press conference announcing the special session, he can't force the lawmakers to vote. Meaning just calling the special session does not guarantee the same kind of stalling that took place on Tuesday wouldn't take place again. But, hopefully, given the scrutiny and price tag that comes with a special session, the House will at least give these bills the chance they deserve.

This will be the first special session called since 2006 when the General Assembly was called to readdress immigration bills.

Lawmakers will begin the special session at 10 a.m. Monday morning and gay rights advocates are expected to gather outside the Capitol at 9 a.m.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Andy Schmidt, Nora Schmidt

    Andy Schmidt and his 10-month-old daughter Nora attend a rally supporting Civil Unions at the state Capitol in Denver on May 14, 2012. Colorado lawmakers were called back into a special session on Monday to vote on several bills including Civil Unions. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Colorado Civil Unions

    Supporters of Civil Unions rally at the Capitol in Denver on Monday, May 14, 2012. Colorado lawmakers were called back into a special session on Monday to vote on several bills including Civil Unions. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Mark Ferrandino

    House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, speaks at a rally supporting Civil Unions at the Capitol in Denver on May 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Mark Ferrandino,

    An overflow crowd listens as House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, sponsor of the Civil Unions bill, testifies before the House State Affairs Committee at the state Capitol in Denver on Monday, May 14, 2012. Gov. John Hickenlooper called the special session for lawmakers to vote on Civil Unions and other issues not completed when last weeks general session ended. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Civil Union

    A supporter of the Civil Unions bill puts on a T-shirt in the House State Affairs Committee, where testimony was being heard at the Capitol in Denver on Monday, May 14, 2012. Gov. John Hickenlooper called the special session for lawmakers to vote on Civil Unions and other issues not completed when last weeks general session ended. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Mark Ferrandino

    House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, talks to reporters during a break in a special session of the Legislature at the Capitol in Denver on May 14, 2012. Gov. John Hickenlooper called the special session for lawmakers to vote on Civil Unions and other issues not completed when last weeks general session ended. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Mark Ferrandino,

    House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, sponsor of the Civil Unions bill, testifies before the House State Affairs Committee at the Capitol in Denver on Monday, May 14, 2012. Gov. John Hickenlooper called the special session for lawmakers to vote on Civil Unions and other issues not completed when last weeks general session ended. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Colorado Civil Unions Bill

    Openly gay Senator Pat Steadman, right, D-Denver, embraces gay Senator Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, at a rally in support of Civil Unions at the Capitol in Denver on Tuesday, May 8, 2012. The rally pushed for the passage of a Civil Unions bill that must be debated on the House floor before it can be passed on Wednesday the final day of the Legislative session. Senate President Brandon Shaffer is pictured in the background.(AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Colorado Civil Unions Bill

    Openly gay state Senator Pat Steadman, center, speaks at a rally in support of Civil Unions at the Capitol in Denver on Tuesday, May 8, 2012. The rally pushed for the passage of a Civil Unions bill that must be debated on the House floor before it can be passed on Wednesday the final day of the Legislative session. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Colorado Civil Unions Bill

    Openly gay state Senator Pat Steadman, center, speaks at a rally in support of Civil Unions at the Capitol in Denver on Tuesday, May 8, 2012. The rally pushed for the passage of a Civil Unions bill that must be debated on the House floor before it can be passed on Wednesday the final day of the Legislative session. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Colorado Civil Unions Bill

    A crowd fills the Old Supreme Court chambers during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill that would allow same-sex couples rights similar to married couples in Colorado at the Capitol in Denver on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Colorado Civil Unions Bill

    Jason Cobb, left, testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill that would allow same-sex couples rights similar to married couples in Colorado at the Capitol in Denver on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. The sponsor of the bill Democratic Sen. Pat Steadman, a gay lawmaker from Denver, listens at right. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Colorado Civil Unions Bill

    Joanne Bryant, left, and Tina Freed react to testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill that would allow same-sex couples rights similar to married couples in Colorado at the Capitol in Denver on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Colorado Civil Unions Bill

    Shawna Kemppainen , left, testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill that would allow same-sex couples rights similar to married couples in Colorado at the Capitol in Denver on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. Her partner Lisa Green who also testified listens at right. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Colorado Civil Unions Bill

    Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber, left, testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill that would allow same-sex couples rights similar to married couples in Colorado at the Capitol in Denver on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. Jeremy Shaver who also testified listens at right. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Colorado Civil Unions Bill

    Democratic Sen. Pat Steadman, a gay lawmaker from Denver, testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill that would allow same-sex couples rights similar to married couples in Colorado at the Capitol in Denver on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012.(AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Colorado Civil Unions Bill

    In this March 5, 2011 photo, Louis Trujillo, left, and Jesse Ulibarri, walk in City Center Park with their 12-year-old son Israel in Denver. Ulibarri, 27, the public policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Colorado, said he's had to argue with pharmacists while picking up medicine for his partner, Louis Trujillo, 32, after he had back surgery for an injury he suffered at work. Same-sex marriage is banned in Colorado, but two openly gay lawmakers are leading an effort to grant couples the similar rights and protections as married couples with civil unions. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Colorado Civil Unions Bill

    In this March 5, 2011 photo, Fran, left, and Anna Simon, right, pose for a picture with their 3-year-old son Jeremy at a playground near their home in Denver. The Simon's carry their son's birth certificate wherever they go in case someone questions that they're his parents. Same-sex marriage is banned in Colorado, but two openly gay lawmakers are leading an effort to grant couples the similar rights and protections as married couples with civil unions. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

Earlier on HuffPost:

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Filed by Matt Ferner  |