Friday, January 18, 2013

Civil unions bill to get first hearing next week

A bill to authorize civil unions for gay couples will receive its first hearing next week.

SB 11 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 1:30 pm.

Observers expect that the hearing will be the first in a series of steps leading to enactment of the legislation this year.

In 2012 the speaker of then-Republican House of Representatives stirred controversy by failing to allow a vote on a similar bill on the last day of the session after it had been cleared by the Senate. That bill, which had been approved by three House committees, appeared to have enough support to pass the chamber and head to Gov. John Hickenlooper for a promised signature.

Hickenlooper subsequently called a special session. Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, who was speaker at the time, then referred the measure to the House State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee, where it died on a party-line vote.

The issue helped Democrats pick up five seats in the chamber in the November election.

SB 11 is sponsored by Sens. Pat Steadman and Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, and Reps. Mark Ferrandino, the current speaker of the House, and Sue Schafer, D-Arvada.