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Bill would ban taxpayer-funded live-in partner benefits

By Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wkar/local-wkar-996420.mp3

LANSING, MI –

Local governments, school districts, community colleges, public universities, and the state could not offer benefits that cover the live-in partners of public employees, under a bill that's on its way to Governor Rick Snyder's desk. As Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta reports, the state Senate approved the measure Wednesday on a mostly party-line vote.

Republican state Senator Mark Jansen says public employers that offer same-sex partner benefits violate the spirit of the voter-approved amendment that outlaws gay marriage and civil unions.

"The state has basically said as a body of people: If you want to do it, we don't want to have to pay for it," he says.

But State Senator Rebekah Warren, a Democrat, says the measure puts public employers at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting the most-qualified workers.

"All of our families are stronger when everybody in the family has access to quality health care coverage," she says.

There's no word on whether Governor Snyder will sign or veto the bill. But he did oppose extending live-in partner benefits to state workers. He said the state could not afford the expense. As it turned out, very few state workers signed up for partner benefits.

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