DENVER– Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty in the first hours of a special session of the legislature called to consider a gay-rights civil unions bill has effectively assured that bill’s death, assigning it to the hardline Republican-controlled State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.
Swamped by reporters after making the assignment, McNulty said that Gov. John Hickenlooper called the special session to advance “gay marriage” in Colorado but that Republicans were focused on job creation. He said Hickenlooper was spending tax money to run the special session on an election-year campaign issue meant to trip up Republican candidacies.
The State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee is known as the kill committee this year. The civil unions bill, sponsored by Denver Democrats Pat Steadman in the Senate and Mark Ferrandino in the House, never went to the State Affairs committee during the regular session. It went to the Judiciary Committee, the Finance Committee and the Appropriations Committee, passing with one-vote majorities in each by winning over one Republican lawmaker on each committee.
Talking to reporters after McNulty finished, Ferrandino lamented the action taken by the Speaker.
“The majority, including 46 percent of Republican delegates to the party convention this year, has supported this bill. This is not a controversial issue here. He sent it to the kill committee. It should have followed the same process as it followed during the regular session.”
Ferrandino said the selection of the kill committee on the part of McNulty was of a piece with what happened at the end of the session when McNulty led a filibuster and called a recess of the House in order to kill the bill.
“[McNulty] says that [Hickenlooper] is playing politics but the Speaker let 37 bills die, many of them related to job creation, when he maneuvered to kill civil unions legislation last week.”
The State Committee is scheduled to meet at 3:30 this afternoon.
Ferrandio said that Coloradans are sick and tired of the games that have been played in the House this year.
“I don’t know why [McNulty] is so opposed to this bill. I think the Speaker is listening to a small minority of supporters. You’ve heard him referring to ‘gay marriage.’ This isn’t about gay marriage. That’s not in the bill.
“All we’ve ever asked for is equal rights. That’s it.”
[ Image: McNulty talking to reporters by TCI ]