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[Updated] "The World Is Watching," After Impasse, Civil Unions Bill Dies On House Floor

Theo Doranian

In what could create an historic end to the Colorado legislative session, Colorado’s Civil Unions bill cleared the House Appropriations committee on a 7-6 vote with one Republican supporter. The stage is now set for a possible debate on the house floor which could last well into tonight. 

Update 11:19 pm:  Session is adjourned.

Update 11:04 pm: Sources quoting House Speaker Republican Frank McNulty: "We have reached an impasse." It appears the session will not resume, and3o bills, including SB 002 are effectively dead without a vote.  

Update 10:11 pm: With less than two hours until midnight, Democrats and Republicans are at an impasse regarding debate of SB 002. The House remains in recess, and recent reports say Gov. Hickenlooper is currently at the Capitol apparently trying to broker a deal to get the business of the house re-started. If tonight's recess continues, 30 bills including SB 002 may die. To follow updates from the State House via twitter: #CivilUnions #COLeg.

Update 9:23 pm: The Pueblo Chieftain has released audio of a closed door discussion between SB 002 sponsor Mark Ferrandino and House Speaker Frank McNulty. The paper (and other reporters) invoked Colorado's 'Sunshine Law' to have access to the heated discussion.

Update 9:04 pm: The House stands in recess, according to Nic Garcia, associate publisher of Out Front Colorado. He tweets, "the house of representatives is in recess, for a couple of hours." Democrats and Republicans are working out multiple procedural issues which could keep the house in recess through tonight's midnight deadline. That effectively kills the rest of the Legislative calendar still yet to be heard including SB 002. A video feed of the House chamber.

Update 8:40 pm: According to Eli Stokols of  KDVR via Twitter: "Ferrandino, Steadman, Gov's office folks, One Colorado & Rep. Nikkel conferring outside House chamber. About to get interesting." Stokols also reports Dems are "scrambling to make sure all members of their new 34-seat majority are on House floor."

Update 8:30 pm: Reports are continuing to circulate on Twitter regarding SB 002 and its fate in the House. It has yet to be heard tonight. Debate must end at midnight. 

Update 7:54 pm: The House remains in session. Heated speeches mixed with what can only be described as filibustering continue as the House debates a trans-fat bill amendment. SB 002 remains unheard. 

Update 7:00 pm: The House is currently in session. Civil unions bill has yet to be heard.  Here is streaming audio from the House chamber [windows media required]. 

Update 5:08 pm: Two amendments were added to SB 002 in the Appropriations committee.  According to tweets by KUNC's State Capitol Reporter Bente Birkeland (@BenteBirkland) one adds 'religious exemptions,' the other allows 'social workers and mental health professionals to refuse serving anyone in a civil union.' As expected Republican Representative Cheri Gerou was the lone Republican supporter of the bill.

If Senate Bill 002 [.pdf] is debated on the floor, a vote will come tomorrow on the final day of the legislative session.

According to the Denver Post,  the bill is almost certain to reach the floor because it has the support of every Democrat and one key Republican on the committee.

"An Evergreen Republican says she will vote for a civil unions bill...when it gets to her committee, paving the way for it to be heard by the entire House. Rep. Cheri Gerou said she committed at the start of the session to supporting Senate Bill 2, which allows same-sex couples to enter into civil unions."

After passing appropriations, GOP leaders can choose to debate the bill, which Democrats are hoping for. However, if the house leadership fails to call the bill for debate today, the proposal is dead on arrival.

The reason? Legislative rules dictate a bill cannot be voted on the same day it is debated, so the only way Bill 002 will survive is if it is brought to a full House debate today.

You can listen in to the committee's discussion here [windows media required].

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