A thirty-three bill train wreck ended the penultimate day in the State House of Representatives when Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, decided to run out the clock on SB12-002, the civil union bill.
Sponsored by two gay legislators, State Senator Pat Steadman, D-Denver, and House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, SB-002 held the best hopes for the GLBT movement in Colorado for almost equal rights to heterosexual married couples.
The bill pitted the Catholic Church, Focus on the Family, and evangelical religious denominations against civil libertarians, civil rights activists, and the GLBT movement. Gay and lesbian couples, along with their children and other family members, lost.
Also down in the smash up: 31 other bills and SCR-001, an initiative related to the civil union bill. If it passed in the November election, it would take out the anti-gay rights section in the Colorado constitution.
Legislators, lobbyists, and concerned citizens will have their hands full picking through the shards. Here are some of the recently deceased bills:
HB-1309: Employers won't have to use E-verify to verify the citizenship of employees.
SB-046: Students will continue to face no-tolerance school discipline policies
SB-086: No study of the cost impact on business of regulatory compliance
SB-108: Pregnant women on Medicaid lose out on dental services
SB-117: No standard test amount for DUM, or driving under the influence of marijuana
SB-165: No money allocation for Water Conservation Board Construction projects, including $13 million to bring up water levels at Chatfield Reservoir, $12 million to finish the Animas-La Plata project, and $30 million for the Rio Grand cooperative project
SB-182: No special "benefit" status established for new or existing corporations willing to organize around doing good works
Hundreds of thousands of lobbying dollars burned in the smash up fire. Over 30 lobbyists were involved in SB-002, civil unions. At least 36 lobbied SB-046, school disciplinary policies. Over 40 tried to help SB-108, the dental services bill, and another 40+ worked on HB-1309, the e-verify bill. Additional hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe millions of dollars, went up in smoke in the cost to research, write, analyze, testify on, and hear the bills.
It was also a very bad night for dogs. Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh, and Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, witnessed their bill, HB-1354, ensuring dog breeders use solid flooring in dog kennels, bite the dust.
On the other hand, the state will save $20,288 because it will not conduct cost impact studies on regulatory compliance.
Ferrandino declared he'll be back with the same bill next year. He's sure to win his Denver House seat in November. Steadman sent a fund raising email to SB-002 supporters within five minutes of its demise. Republicans are sure to do the same thing. And so it goes. PEN,CCW