UPDATE #4: Speaker Frank McNulty responds not too happily, via Out Front Colorado:
“If the governor wants to make this special session about gay marriage, than that’s his prerogative,” McNulty said.
“It is ironic to me that the governor would choose to use his bully pulpit for the purpose of gay marriage but stand on the sidelines when families suffer, when Coloradans continue to look for work and unemployment remains too high,” he said.
UPDATE #3: FOX 31:
A day after Colorado House Republican leaders killed a measure to legalize civil unions, Governor John Hickenlooper on Wednesday called for a special legislative session.
“We need to have an open discussion of the issue and at least work toward a final resolution,” Gov. Hickenlooper said. “We (will) allow people a chance to vote on it, and we move forward.”
UPDATE #2: Gov. John Hickenlooper calls special session on civil unions, as well as other bills that were killed yesterday by the House GOP majority, to begin “Friday or Monday.”
UPDATE: Multiple sources now reporting that Gov. John Hickenlooper will call a special session of the Colorado General Assembly to address civil unions. Press conference imminent.
A few representative news stories today–Durango Herald:
Colorado’s House of Representatives suffered a stunning breakdown of order Tuesday night during a fight over civil unions for gay and lesbian couples…
The Republican leadership, which was using delay tactics to block the civil unions bill from getting a vote, lost control of the chamber when Democrats recruited two dissident Republicans to help them take over the House agenda.
Rather than give it up, Republicans put the chamber into recess at 9 p.m. Speaker of the House Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, returned more than two hours later to tell reporters that the House had reached an impasse.
The Pueblo Chieftain’s Patrick Malone:
“This is unprecedented in the history of the state of Colorado, to mess with the rules and to interrupt the integrity of the House in such a manner,” said Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs.
The pause was in response to a power play by Democrats seeking to force a vote on the bill. With a handful of Republicans on board, the numbers were in place to compel a vote.
“We do not want to do anything to harm what this institution stands for, but at the same time, when we look at what we’re seeing from the Republican majority, we are seeing them not willing to stand up and protect the democratic process of allowing every bill to get a vote,” said Ferrandino.
And FOX 31’s Eli Stokols:
House Republicans showed signs of obstruction early on Tuesday, as members of the House Appropriations Committee stalled for hours before hearing Senate Bill 2, which was amended twice before clearing the committee.
An hour later, Democrats were joined by two Republicans, Reps. B.J. Nickel and Don Beezley in blocking the House GOP from beginning debate on a slate of bills before they’d introduced the civil unions bill…
Had Democrats been recognized, their motion would have passed with both Nikkel and Beezley voting in favor of opening debate on the civil union bill.
Instead, the recess lasted the rest of the night.
Our view: this was one of the most self-destructive political mistakes we’ve ever seen committed by any politician in a leadership role. Even if the intention of by House Speaker Frank McNulty and the House GOP majority was always to kill Senate Bill 2, the way McNulty allowed the situation to escalate out of his control, and cause so much collateral damage, was an unprecedented disaster. McNulty made a mockery of a “fair hearing,” and wrecked the defense that Democrats were responsible for this last-minute crisis by holding on to the bill in the Senate. McNulty would have taken a hit from the right for losing when Democrats and dissident Republican had him procedurally outmaneuvered, and they did have him–but not nearly the criticism from all sides he’ll suffer for shutting down the House to prevent this vote.
This time we think there may really be a price, folks. Republicans are going to lose seats in the legislature over this debacle, meaning it’s a good bet we’ll be looking back at this as a major factor in the loss of the GOP’s one-seat House majority in November–perhaps as important as the GOP’s reapportionment defeat itself. And McNulty is the leadership equivalent of a dead man walking now, even in the unlikely event that the GOP keeps the House.
On the upside, Marsha Looper can’t use civil unions against Amy Stephens! But we doubt when this is over that anyone other than Stephens will think this was worth what it’s going to cost.
“Civil unions will pass,” [Coloradans for Freedom spokesman and GOP attorney Mario] Nicolais said. “And so will the Republican House majority.”