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Colorado Lawmakers Wrap Up Session Without Civil Unions

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Colorado State Capitol (credit: CBS)

Colorado State Capitol (credit: CBS)

DENVER (AP) — 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 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.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper told lawmakers Wednesday that he’d call them back to Denver to resolve the civil unions measure. That threw even more doubt on which bills lawmakers would finish, and which they’d delay and hope to consider in a special legislative session.

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.”

One of the squeakers that went to the governor’s desk Wednesday was a bill allowing wildfire victims to seek compensation is excess of state liability limits when the wildfire was started by the state.

Other 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.”

By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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