Reps: Slim chance of benefits ban passing

Frankfort — A domestic-partner benefits ban does not have the support to get to the floor of the Kentucky House of Representatives, said the chair of the committee the bill is now in.

Senate Bill 112 would ban public universities and other state institutions from providing domestic-partner benefits to their employees. The bill went to the House Health and Welfare Committee after the state Senate approved the bill in a 30-5 vote last month.

Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, is the committee chair. The bill would have a “difficult time” getting the votes to make it through the 16-member committee to the full House, where it could be voted into law, he said.

If the bill were to be approved by the House, health benefits for state workers would only apply to the employee and the employee’s spouse and family members.

UK added domestic partner benefits in July. Currently about 60 employees use the program, UK spokesman Jay Blanton said last month.

A domestic-partner benefits ban would unfairly single out one group of people and deny them needed health care benefits, Burch said.

“If (supporters of the bill) follow the word of Jesus, they wouldn’t do something like this,” Burch said. “Jesus was a healer. He forgave people.”

“I don’t recall anything in the Bible about domestic-partner benefits,” he said.

During the 2007 legislative session, the Senate passed a similar bill. The bill entered the Health and Welfare Committee and died after an 8-8 committee vote.

Rep. Bob Damron, D-Lexington, has said he supports a bill to ban domestic-partner benefits because they raise state health care costs and could be abused by people who are not in a long-term relationship. However, Damron, a committee member, said yesterday the bill does not have a good chance to pass in the committee.

“I think it should probably be somewhere else to be heard on the House floor,” he said.

If the bill were to make it to the full House, it would pass 80-20, Damron said.

For the domestic-partner benefits ban to become law, it would need to make it through the committee and the House by the end of the legislative session in April.