Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Friday, December 9, 2011

Legislature OKs ban on partner benefits for some public employers

The state Legislature has approved a bill designed to block the offering of health insurance to domestic partners living with some public employees.

It would not apply to public universities, based on Senate-approved changes, although not all House members agree with that interpretation.

"It is noteworthy that the amended version of the legislation removes any reference to state universities as being within the scope of the legislation," said Cynthia Wilbanks, vice president for government relations. "Nonetheless, there seems to be some difference of opinion about whether the approved legislation applies directly to state universities. That remains a serious concern."

She also said the university "continues to believe and will advocate that these benefits are a critical component — for all public and private employers — to retaining and attracting the very best talent that is so important to the continued economic recovery in the state of Michigan."

The legislation was approved on a vote of 63-45 Thursday in the House.  It passed 27-9 Wednesday in the Senate. It now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder for consideration.

The legislation would prohibit some public employers from extending health benefits to unmarried partners of employees, whether they are of the same sex or opposite sex. It would apply to public schools, local governments and some state employees.