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Friday, March 30, 2007

St Cloud Times on DP Benefits

Our view: Legislators should spurn showboating, deliver basics
Times Editorial Board

Published: March 30. 2007 12:30AM

Last fall, a sizeable number of DFL legislative candidates ran campaigns that touted the desire to get back to the basics of state government and away from divisive social issues.

More notably, though, we can't recall any single legislative race in which the DFL candidate made allowing same-sex marriage their top priority.

With those two items in mind, we strongly suggest DFL leaders take off the table for this session legislation that tilts in that direction.

Even though we strongly support civil unions and equality, we believe at least two pieces of DFL-sponsored legislation go against the spirit of those fall campaign promises, not to mention add immense pressure to a growingly partisan session.

The main item is a bill the Senate passed Saturday that allows domestic partners of state workers to buy into the state's health insurance program. The other proposal improves visitation rights for domestic partners at health care facilities.

Indeed, tracking the former through the Senate even indicates actions this session might be more about politics than public service and principle. No? Really?

Supporters originally crafted the measure to give domestic partners the same coverage as spouses of state employees. That, though, also meant it cost more for taxpayers.

Apparently not wanting Gov. Tim Pawlenty to be able to veto the measure on fiscal grounds, they amended it to allow partners to buy into the state plan. In theory, that's still cheaper than open-market rates.

But from a political perspective, the change created a bill that still poses a direct challenge to the governor's longstanding position of opposing state benefits to domestic partners. Pawlenty's spokesman has said the governor will veto any bill.

Given all the other more time-sensitive issues on the state's plate, Minnesotans don't need this political showdown now. What we do need are a responsible budget plan, adequate investments in transportation and education, sound tax policies, etc. — all completed on time.

A political war over domestic partnerships won't help accomplish all that, and it certainly is not in the spirit of how most DFLers ran their campaigns last fall.

So again, we ask this and similar measures be put on hold until next session.

Most commenters seem to agree with the Editorial.

I'd like the Governor to actually have to carry out that veto threat. Does he really want to be kowtowing to these characters?