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Bill that would ban use of tax dollars for partner benefits being pitched to House

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Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, will be pitching his benefits bill to the state House of Representatives.

The bill, HB327, would restrict the way that cities can offer benefits to people other than the spouses and children of their employees. Christensen characterized his measure as a compassionate move for public employers that want to offer insurance benefits to dependents outside traditional definitions of heterosexual marriage and children. The bill would require that the people who buy the coverage pay all costs without help from the employer.

"Without having to get into a policy debate on trying to specifically identify and list which relationships, which myriad of relationships that are out there, the public wants to sanction by putting their public tax dollars on, they would make a wide-open option where you could purchase additional coverage as the employee," Christensen said.

Christensen told the House Retirement and Independent Entities Committee that he thinks this is the state should impose the law statewide rather than "watch piecemeal adoption of public policy (through) random court decisions."

He could not answer questions about how his bill would affect the Salt Lake City Council, which likely will pass an ordinance during its Feb. 7 meeting that would offer benefits to adult designees of employees, including romantic partners, parents, adult siblings, friends or roommates.

The committee passed the bill favorably with a 4-to-1 vote with four committee members absent.