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Colorado lawmakers wrap up session without civil unions

Kristen Wyatt
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Dozens of civil unions supporters rallied outside the Colorado Capitol on Tuesday, May 8, 2012, directing chants of "Let them vote!" to Republicans who control the House and are divided over the issue. The last-minute drama comes during the final two days of the legislative session, where the civil unions measure must have floor debate and preliminary vote Tuesday or the bill dies. Lawmakers adjourn at midnight Wednesday, and the final vote must happen before then. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Andy Cross) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT; TV OUT
AP | The Denver Post

DENVER – Colorado lawmakers are picking through the wreckage of a political implosion over civil unions on the final day of the legislative session.

Lawmakers were scrambling Wednesday morning to see which bills could be sent to triage, and which would be casualties of a political standoff that ended just before midnight Tuesday with no resolution.

Legislators were hoping to use parliamentary maneuvers to save priority measures such as a bill funding some $20 million in water projects.



Senate Democratic Leader John Morse told senators meeting for the final day that they’d need to “see what we can salvage from last night.”

A few measures seemed impossible to revive. One was a bill to set a drugged driving blood standard for marijuana, a measure that law enforcement supported but some marijuana activists said would unduly burden medical marijuana patients. A similar marijuana DUI bill died last session.



“It’s done,” said Republican Sen. Steve King, who sponsored this year’s pot DUI bill.

Other bills were on life support, needing hasty passage by the end of the day to make it to the governor’s desk. Among them: a ban on trans fats in school food, a ban on synthetic drugs sold as “bath salts,” and new literacy guidelines for public schools. Lawmakers were also looking for ways to revive an overhaul of school discipline policies adopted in the post-Columbine era.

Despite the busy calendar, many legislators conceded that Tuesday’s dramatic failure of the civil unions bill left them with little political energy for what is typically a frenzied final day. Some lawmakers were pre-emptively cleaning out their desks for departure, and a traditional end-of-session comedy sketch show put on by some House members was scrapped because of the dour mood.

Republican Sen. Ted Harvey noted his colleagues’ dark spirits when he roused them for what could be the bright point of their final day – lauding some high school athletes who visited the Capitol.

Showing some hometown pride, Harvey won laughs and applause when he said, “This morning, the sun still rose. The birds still chirped. And Douglas County is still the center of the sporting universe.”


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