House Speaker Says Civil Unions Bill Might Die On Floor

McNulty Says Bill Might Not Get Enough Debate

House Speaker Frank McNulty says it’s possible a civil-unions bill could die in the House despite the fact that there are enough votes to pass it.

McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, told 7NEWS Monday he is under no obligation to bring the bill up for a debate after it gets out of the Appropriations Committee.

"The delay of this bill was not our fault," said McNulty. "The Democrats delayed it for 110 days after it passed the Senate. They've manufactured a crisis that they've pushed into the waning days of the session and that's unfortunate."

Adding to the drama, Rep. Jon Becker, R-Ft. Morgan and chair of the Appropriations Committe, told 7NEWS Monday he might not call another Appropriations Committee meeting at all this session, which would effectively kill the bill.

"I'm not going to rush the process this late in the game because this bill has such significance," said Becker.

The bill must be debated on the floor by Tuesday before it can be voted on Wednesday, which is the last day of the session.

McNulty said last year the Democratic-controlled Senate let bills die on the calendar.

Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, said Monday he was concerned about Republicans employing stall tactics.

"Bills should live or die on their merits," said Ferrandino. "It deserves to be heard on the House floor."

The measure does not allow gay marriage but does grant gay couples rights similar to marriage, including enhanced inheritance and parental rights, and the ability to be involved in a partner's medical decisions.

So far Colorado Democrats have been able to advance the bill past two Republican-led House committees. The Finance Committee approved the measure with a 7-6 vote Friday after the bill passed the House Judiciary Committee late Thursday. In both cases, one Republican on each committee voted for the bill, allowing it to pass narrowly.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has said the time has come for civil unions, and he's poised to sign them into law if the bill gets to his desk. If that happens, Colorado would join more than a dozen states with either civil unions or gay marriage. It would be a dramatic turnaround for a state where voters just six years ago approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

"At a certain point you just feel that the time is right. There's a tipping point," Hickenlooper said Friday.

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