Others (such as Lance Collins via Disappeared News and kolea via his comments at The Notebook) have already done a fine job describing the ins and outs of how it is that the Civil Unions bill remains in the Senate Judiciary Committee after the chair’s recommendation to pass the bill was met with a tie vote and, thus, failed to carry. I concur that the ersatz “mandatory waiting period” said to expire on March 10 really never had to be honored by the Senate, but that is water under the bridge.
At this point the questions become simple: a) will a Senator move tomorrow to recall the bill from the committee for consideration by the full Senate? b) will that motion get a second? and, if so, c) will the motion carry?
Friday saw articles (Advertiser and Star-Bulletin) that indicated that Senate Democrats, depending upon which unnamed source you believe, have (or don’t have) the courage to recall the bill and to pass it.
While senators may have reservations in private, a vote on the Senate floor would put them on the spot publicly, and a majority have told gay activists they support civil unions.
[DOUG: Did you catch that? The implication being that some Senators with private reservations (i.e. in caucus) have told supporters of the bill a different story. Shocking, I know.]
State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, D-21st (Nanakuli, Makaha), said she would like Senate Democrats to come to a consensus. She said earlier reports that the Senate had the votes to pull the bill from committee and to pass it on the floor were accurate at the time. But she said some senators are now looking at other factors, including the importance of maintaining the committee process.
[Senator] Espero, offered an amendment, which was not supported by the caucus [Thursday], but he still hopes to have it discussed Tuesday.
“The amendment would acknowledge civil unions. However, it would not equate them to marriage, and that could provide a win-win situation,” Espero (D, Ewa-Honouliuli-Ewa Beach) said.
An amendment could complicate the issue because it would force the bill back to the House and possibly a conference committee. Another senator who asked not to be identified said bluntly that “an amendment will kill it.”
Also, Senate Democrats say support for the bill among Democrats has weakened. Unofficial tallies two weeks ago had 18 supporters, but now supporters say they have a bare majority of 13.
An amendment will kill it. Especially an amendment “crafted” by Espero, a Senator who is not even half as politically shrewd as he may think himself to be…
As for Senate President Hanabusa’s hope for a “consensus” on the issue: balderdash. Senator Gabbard will never support the bill, so there will never be a consensus. A minority of the caucus is allowed to stop the whole legislative process? Strange leadership decision, that.
If Senators who support this bill were to come this far and not even attempt to recall the bill, then that would speak volumes about the depth of their support for civil rights. Besides, it is not as if the committee process is being hijacked. There would be no “majority vote” in the Judiciary committee overridden, that vote was 3-3. If Senator Hanabusa had assigned an odd number of committee members, then a recall would not have been necessary. I can’t see any non-nefarious reason for a key committee to have an even number of members assigned, so Hanabusa deserves to have that decision blow up her in face, and often.
So, are the Senators who support civil unions going to remain silent and attempt to hide behind that “respect for Senate process” fig leaf, or will two Senators move to recall the bill, even if it means forcing their colleagues to go on record.
Heck, it’s even possible that an opponent of the bill (or an opponent of Senate leadership, or of both) who wants to force the issue could move (or second) the recall motion. Wouldn’t that make the civil unions supporters look even more timid! Whatever, so long as it comes to a vote, I’m down.