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Indianapolis council to consider domestic-partner benefits

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Domestic partners of Indianapolis city employees could qualify for benefits under a proposal filed by City-County Councilor Angela Mansfield.

The ordinance, to be introduced June 4, would apply to same-sex as well as opposite-sex partners.

Mansfield, a Democrat, thinks she has enough bipartisan support to pass an ordinance, and Mayor Greg Ballard is not threatening a veto.

“You do these kinds of things to attract and keep talented personnel,” Mansfield said.

Her proposal defines domestic partners as "two adults who have chosen to share one another's lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutal caring, who have shared a residence for at least 365 days, and who have agreed to be jointly responsible for basic living expenses..." The partners must sign a "declaration of domestic partnership."

Domestic partners would be eligible for health insurance and pension benefits, and their children would be eligible for health insurance. 

Republican councilor Jack Sandlin said Friday he will likely oppose the ordinance because of the cost of expanding benefits.

"Why would we take on an expense when we can't fund our public safety department?" he asked.

The city has 7,451 employees eligible for health insurance benefits, and about 87 percent of them are enrolled, Controller Jeff Spalding said. With spouses and children, the city's total enrollment is 15,181.

Mansfield said she doesn’t know the potential fiscal impact of her proposal, but she thinks it won’t be great. The city already saves money through a spousal-exclusion policy, which is to say that spouses who can buy insurance through their own employers can’t use city benefits. That policy would apply to domestic partners, too.

One factor that would prevent abuse, Mansfield said, is that domestic-partner benefits are taxable, and therefore more costly to the employee.

Ballard spokesman Marc Lotter said the mayor would also want to look at the potential fiscal impact and ensure that the policy prevents fraud and abuse. “He’s open to taking a look at it if the council is able to pass something,” Lotter said.

Mansfield said she looked to Indiana universities, most of which offer some kind of domestic partner benefit, and the Town of Lawrence, which also offers the benefit, in drafting the proposal.

Domestic-partner benefits are becoming more common throughout the private sector, said Angie Brawdy, state council director for the Indiana chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management. “More companies are seeing that as a recruitment tool.”

Mansfield has contemplated filing the proposal since 2010, before Democrats took control of the council. Even at that time, she thought there was enough support to pass an ordinance. 

“Overall, I just don’t think this is going to be a big deal,” she said.

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  • Don't think the PTA will like that idea!
    What does the Superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools have to say about extending unmarried couples and same sex partner benefits to its employees?

    Isn't the city in charge of Marion county charter schools and in line to take over several IPS schools?

    Would this attract the talent the school board is seeking?

    IPS is currently doing a very intrusive employee healthcare audit that is intended to disqualify current benefit holders as it cuts healthcare benefits and raises premiums.
  • Marriage is Marriage, Nothing Less
    This is just a attempt to undermine voters choice not to accept same sex marriage in Indiana with activist judges and sneaky proposals like this.

  • City Will Need Another State Bailout
    Here we go again. Indianapolis gets overly generous with its benefits program and asks for a state bailout.

    Remember when the state took over its police pension obligations because it couldn't afford it?

    http://www.indy.gov/eGov/City/DPS/IMPD/Employment/Sworn/Pages/benefits.aspx

    In fact, it is surprising that the city would be able to extend benefits on a pension program administered by the state, which legally can not recognize same sex marriage.
  • Discrimination and Fraud
    Advocates of same sex domestic partnerships and marriage are now demanding a "tax gross-up" to compensate for being taxed on benefits.

    How fair is it that homosexuals are being paid more than their heterosexual peers because of their sexual choice?

    Heterosexual are claiming benefits for room mates who are unemployed out of a sense of friendship.

    Mike Miller, a 33-year-old self-employed personal trainer living in Chicago, was able to get on his male roommate's insurance plan for a year, even though the two are straight and were never dating.

    "It was completely heterosexual. He's just my best friend," Miller said. "I think he just filled out a form and that was that.".
  • Benefits Out Of Control
    In response to fraud and unenforceable rules, a growing number of companies including Corning, I.B.M. and Raytheon, which provide domestic partner benefits, are dropping benefits for people who do not have a marriage certificate.

    Same sex marriage is illegal in Indiana.
  • Learn to do your research people...
    The number of individuals who will likely enroll their domestic partner/children will be relatively low. As mentioned in the article, an benefit that is extended to a individual who is not a legal dependent will incur a tax. As a result, the cost of insurance for a domestic partner is incredibly expensive. Contact Indiana University ask them how many of their employees take advantage of domestic partner insurance. The number will be suprisingly low. Also in order to qualify, interested couples have to sign an affidavit and document proof of joint assets (i.e. mortgage, car loan, etc.). Again, it's so highly taxed that not many people will do it.
  • got it wrong
    Your stats are incorrect. The 85k Government employees working in Marion County includes all government workers in Marion county. That is state, federal, non profit agencies, city and county. The stats the article list is the number of employees for all of the city/county employees and it is correct. That number includes the library, airport, convention center, and so on. The policy of extending benefits to domestic partners is consistent with private sector companies of the same size. Isn't the mantra of most conservatives "run the government like a business."

    Also, too say the "fiscal proposil is huge" without considering the actuarial factors involved is a bit of an overstatement. We really don't know if it is huge or not. If all of the people added to the plan are healthy and don't have claims then it could bring cost done or hold them neutral.
  • Politician: Its Free, No Big Deal
    There are 85,346 government employees in Marion county according to Stats Indiana.

    My understanding is that this proposal covers not only same sex partners and children, but opposite same sex partners who are not married and any kids.

    It also covers all city and county employees, plus municipal corporations which use city/county benefits packages including Health and Hospital Corporation (Wishard), Indianapolis Airport Authority, Indianapolis Convention Center,Lucas Oil,Bankers Life, Indianapolis Marion County Library, and Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation (IndyGo).

    Certainly Indianapolis Public Schools will also want more benefits also.

    The fiscal cost on this proposal is huge.
    • RIGHTHANDED FOLLOWUP
      I agree with much of what Righthanded said. However, I wanted to add one more thing. Since the Republican Party has said that the "gay" population is more like 1%-2% (rather than the generally accepted 10%), the actual resulting number of people that will actually derive benefits would be much lower. If you extrapolate this through RIGHTHANDED's calculations, the result is 0.25% (not 2.5% as you stated). With 7,451 employees eligible for benefits, this means it will allow (roughly) 18 of them to add their domestic partner. This will not "kill" the budget. Rather, it will be a great tool to attract a few more talented gay/lesbian people to consider Indianapolis a user-friendly community. With those people come their talents, increased tax revenue, and an improved quality of life for all. Seems like a very small investment to improve the overall base community.
      • Insane
        This is one of the most outrages concepts we have seen in years. Anyone who wants to be covered simply needs someone to say they are a couple and they are covered and we pay for it. hey when the coverage is no longer needed wefind someone else who needs coverage, when does it stop? This should not even be considered.
      • Right Handed
        Any "Domestic Partner Registry" is subject to significant fraud just like the recent media investigation showing huge problems with the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registry.

        What prevents people from claiming benefits from more than one employer for more than one "partner"?

        Don't see the HR department conducting sex & committed relationship audits with home visits?
      • Whats Wrong With This Picture?
        As the city is increasing employee costs, lowering insurance coverages, and completely dropping city/county benefit coverage for employed spouses/kids employed elsewhere, they want to start covering homosexual partners, girl/boy friends, and unemployed room mates?
      • Can you read?
        Dear Fox News Viewer,

        The article you cited is about extending the benefits to ALL people in the entire UNITED STATES. The research article that you and Fox news cited states on payge 24 that “Such language (like the city-council wants to adopt) could prohibit married same sex couple from being included in the extension of federal benefits provide.

        When you actually READ the proposal it would cost very little. To even qualify for benefits first you must be gay (about 10% of the population). Second, you must be in a long term committed relationship (let’s assume that is 50% of the 10% so about 5% of the total). Then your partner must not be eligible for health care or other benefits (again let’s assume 50% of the 5% are not in a position of qualifying for benefits so now 2.5%). A total of 2.5% of all employees would be eligible. If you use some common since and think that people won’t want to be “out-ed” in Indiana the number would be even less.

        The moral of this rant is please READ before you post.
        • No Big Deal?
          City-County Councilor Angela Mansfield and Bob Lutz have a case of wishful thinking.

          They obviously don't really care about the cost.

          They should.

          Extending Federal Benefits to Same-Sex Couples Will Cost $898M, CBO Says

          http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/12/22/extending-federal-benefits-sex-couples-cost-m-cbo-says/

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