Michigan lawmakers have failed to repeal a policy providing domestic-partner benefits to state employees, largely assuring the policy will go into effect, the Lansing State Journal reports.
A proposal to rescind the policy failed to receive the required two-thirds vote in the house of representatives Thursday. Sixty-six members voted in favor of repeal, eight short of the number needed. A repeal measure had passed the senate by the required margin.
The state Civil Service Commission had approved the policy in January, affirming an agreement Jennifer Granholm had negotiated with state employee unions while she was governor. It extends health care benefits to the same-sex partners of state employees as well as any other adult living in an employee's household, and it applies to both unionized and nonunion workers. The state employs about 35,700 people.
Rick Snyder, a Republican who succeeded term-limited Democrat Granholm as governor this year, and GOP legislators wanted to rescind the policy because of its cost, estimated at as much as $11 million a year. With Michigan running at a deficit, Snyder still may seek to cut the benefits during negotiations with state workers, according to the Journal.
For now, however, workers and their representatives were happy that repeal failed to pass the legislature. "We would not want the Civil Service Commission to be overturned," said Ray Holman (pictured), a spokesman for United Auto Workers Local 6000, which represents about 17,000 social service caseworkers and other state employees. "That hasn't happened before in recent memory. These types of things should be handled at the bargaining table. We negotiated it fair and square."