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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Outfront's Legislative Update

State Employees' Domestic Partner Benefits
(SF1369, Sandy Pappas and HF 1618, Phyllis Kahn)
Summary
This past Saturday, the Senate passed the State Government Appropriations bill which included coverage of state domestic partner benefits. Opponents tried to strip the bill of this provision but were turned back. However, the bill was amended to require that same-sex partners of state employees pay the premium for their coverage. The bill awaits action in the House.

Detail
Because Governor Pawlenty has said that he will veto legislation that includes domestic partner benefits, Senator Don Betzold offered an amendment to have the employees pay the cost of insuring their domestic partners. The majority of the Senate voted for the amendment and it passed. Senator Warren Limmer offered an amendment to take out all the domestic partner language. That failed on a vote of 40 to 22. All Democrats voted against this effort except Senators Dan Skogen, Dan Sparks and Jim Vickerman. All republicans voted in favor of it except Senators Paul Koering and Steve Dille.


One of the liberal bloggers at Drinking Liberally called me "self-loathing" because I said that Steve Dille was a decent guy, and deserved reelection. It's interesting that Dan Sparks is voting the way he did. He got lots of credit for standing up to the leviticus crowd during the election. It seems like he's taking his orders from Jeff Davis over at the MCDM.


House Action
In the House, the state employee domestic partner benefits bill passed the Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, March 21st. The bill will be heard next in the Finance Committee where legislators will vote on whether or not to include the state employee domestic partner benefits in the omnibus spending bill.

Local Government Health Care Benefits
(SF 960, Linda Higgins and HF 1097, Jim Davnie)
The Senate passed this bill on Saturday, March 24th as part of the larger spending bill. The legislation would allow local governments to offer domestic partner benefits if they choose. Originally, the omnibus spending bill did not include this provision, but Senator Sandy Pappas offered an amendment to include it and that amendment passed. All democrats voted in favor of it except Senators Dan Skogen, Dan Sparks, and Jim Vickerman. All republicans voted against the amendment except Senators David Senjem, Paul Koering and Steve Dille.


This is very interesting that the Senate minority leader voted with the good guys on this bill. It's also interesting that Geoff Michel - whose district would like him to vote otherwise, voted with the theocrats.

In the House, the Local Government Health Care Benefits legislation was added to the bill granting health care benefits to the domestic partners of state employees.

Hospital Visitation
(SF 1398, John Marty and HF 1589, Erin Murphy)
In the Senate, the Health, Housing and Family Security Committee which passed the hospital visitation bill on Wednesday, March 21st. The legislation has been referred to the Judiciary Committee for a Wednesday, March 28th hearing (today) and vote.

In the House, the bill was passed by the Health and Human Services bill on March 19th. The next vote on Hospital Visitation will be during Session when the House decides whether or not to pass the bill.

Sick Leave
(SF 1128, Ropes and HF 219, Walker)
In the Senate, the bill passed the Business, Industry and Jobs Committee, but the language to include domestic partners was not included.

In the House, the bill was amended to include domestic partners in the Labor Committee and sent the State Government Finance Division Committee.

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