For Immediate Release
March 7, 2007
Contact: Martin Cothran
Domestic partner benefit ban fails to clear important hurdle, but supporters say there is still hope
FRANKFORT--A bill that would have prevented state agencies, including public colleges and universities, from subsidizing the health care benefits of the live-in sexual partners of their employees failed to clear an important hurdle today when the House Health & Welfare Committee voted 8-8 on Senate Bill 152. The bill needed 9 votes to win approval, but the tie-breaking vote, Ancel Smith (D-Leburn), who represents Knott and McGoffin Counties, as well as part of Letcher, was absent.
"We don't know how Rep. Smith would have voted," said Martin Cothran, "but obviously his vote would have made the difference as to whether the bill was approved." Cothran said Rep. Smith seemed to be avoiding the meetings in which the bill was considered. "Rep. Smith was the deciding vote, but he didn't show up." Cothran is senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation of Kentucky, which supports the legislation.
"House Democratic leadership sent this bill to this committee because they knew it would have little chance of passage. They were obviously clever in defeating this bill," said Cothran, "but that doesn't mean the bill is cannot be resurrected." Cothran pointed out that, under House rules, a member not voting can make a motion to reconsider a vote.
"It's all up to Rep. Smith," said Cothran.
On her way out of the committee after the bill failed, Rep. Kathy Stein, a member of the Health & Welfare Committee and the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, handed Cothran a box of Rice-a-Roni, and said, "Here you go--a San Francisco treat." It was a reference to Cothran's remarks in January's special organization session when House Democrats elected their leaders. Cothran had said that appointing Stein, the House's most liberal member, to the Judiciary post would make House Democrats look like "San Francisco Democrats."
"I appreciate the gift," said Cothran. "I guess it symbolizes the values that won today."