NV Panel Approves State Employee Domestic Partner Benefits

August 29, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A Nevada legislative committee has approved legislation that would make it a state policy to provide health care insurance benefits to domestic partners of state employees, including those of the same sex.

However, the Mercury News reports that raising the $4 million in funding for the health care benefits will prove difficult as Governor Jim Gibbons has asked state agencies to prepare for cuts of 14% for the 2009-2011 budget cycle. The governor also said no increase in state support for the self-funded health program should take place because of declining tax revenue, according to the news report.

“It is not a time we can expand state benefits,” Gibbons spokesman Ben Kieckhefer told the newspaper. “This is $4 million that would have to be taken out of other state programs.” However, he did say legislators should have a “policy debate” on whether health care benefits should be given to domestic partners.

Officials from the Higher Education System of Nevada were the first to approach the Public Employee Benefits Program Board with the request that health care benefits be given to domestic partners. The board backed the proposed regulation (See Nevada Panel OKs Domestic Partner Benefits Extension ), but decided earlier this month to delay requesting money until the economy recovers, according to the news report.

Legislation that would provide health insurance for domestic partners of employees of state universities and other public agencies has been hotly debated in the Kentucky legislature (See KY House Committee Rejects Ban on Domestic Partner Benefits).