|By John Schroyer; [email protected]|
Members of the state Legislature will consider hundreds of bills between January and May.
Most of the bills are fairly mundane, but four will likely draw close attention in
Some of the big four measures could create dissension within party ranks.
Civil unions will pit majority Democrats and a handful of Republicans against more conservative legislators, who see the bill, which would essentially allow gay marriage, as a social problem and as circumventing the will of
Regulations for recreational marijuana sales bring arguments, some strictly partisan and some not, to deal with issues from business procedures to security measures.
A bill that would increase some insurance payouts to wildfire victims who lost their homes will almost certainly raise hackles at the Capitol.
And a proposed increase in education funding looks to be a sign of hope for state schools, but more than one lawmaker has cautioned that the state's financial situation is tenuous.
The Gazette spoke with several
CIVIL UNIONS: SARAH AND ERIKA
Erika is getting her last name changed to match. Together, they're raising 9-year-old Jack. They've been together for six years. They hold hands and smile at each other constantly.
But their Spring marriage was symbolic. It is not binding in any legal sense, as marriages for heterosexual couples are, and they don't get the same rights as straight couples.
A bill to establish civil unions for gay couples will be introduced
Republican leaders narrowly defeated a similar measure in 2012, killing it in committee. But with Democrats holding both
"Civil unions could pass before I get clearance from the
Civil unions are similar, but not the same as marriages.
Musick and Highstead said getting civil unions through
"People are fairly shocked when they find out that we don't have the same rights as them and their spouses," Highstead said. "What matters a lot is equality. This is a steppingstone."
They say it will make it far easier for Musick to adopt Jack. The boy calls both women "mom."
"This is about taking care of each other," Musick said .
Civil unions won't sail through the
Hillery fears more marijuana business owners could wind up behind bars unless the 2013
"It'll be like it is now - you never know how things will change from day to day," Hillery said.