AZ Lawmakers could Kill Domestic Partner Benefits Rule

June 5, 2009 ( - Arizona state lawmakers are moving to strip the domestic partners of state and university employees of the health insurance coverage they gained just a year ago, according to a news report.

The Arizona Daily Star reported that a provision in the state budget would legally define “dependents” of state employees who are entitled to coverage as a spouse or a child younger than 19 – or younger than 23 if a full-time student.

The news account said changing the law would override regulations adopted last year that added domestic partners and their children to the list (see AZ Governor Backs State Worker Domestic Partner Health Coverage ). The state Department of Administration says about 750 workers who have signed up for the benefits would be affected, according to the newspaper.

Senate Majority Whip Pamela Gorman told the newspaper the question of who gets what benefits should be decided by state lawmakers and that it was wrong of then-Governor Janet Napolitano to make the change administratively.

At the time, Napolitano’s director of administration, Bill Bell, said the cost was outweighed by what the state and universities will save in attracting and retaining qualified employees. University of Arizona President Robert Shelton presented similar arguments in favor of the change, the Star report said.

The rule lawmakers are seeking to scrap does not allow any state or university worker to declare any person to be a domestic partner and eligible for coverage. It limits benefits to someone living with the employee for at least a year and expected to continue living with that person.

The newspaper said there is no reference to the gender of the partner in the rule that also requires an indication of financial interdependence and an affidavit by the employee that there is a domestic partnership.