Arizona To Grant Health Benefits To Partners Of State Workers

Arizona is set to approve health benefits for the partners of state employees.

The domestic partners of state employees, gay or straight, will be eligible for health coverage and other benefits under a plan approved Tuesday by a state oversight panel. The Governor’s Regulatory Review Council, with three members missing or abstaining, voted 4-0 to approve the benefits expansion. It was proposed late last year with backing by Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano.

Supporters termed Tuesday’s decision a breakthrough for the state in terms of its treatment of employees and competitiveness in luring and retaining a workforce. Meanwhile, critics likened the administrative rule change to a sidestep of the Legislature and hinted at a possible legal challenge in the months ahead.

Arizona will join 15 other states and Washington, DC in granting such coverage.