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Posted on Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 2:58 p.m.

Proposed state ban on domestic partner benefits is bad for business and should be vetoed

By Guest Column

Editor's note: The percentage amount that the city of Kalamazoo and the University of Michigan spend out of their healthcare budgets for domestic partner benefits has been corrected.

This month, a number of CEOs from West Michigan had the chance to meet with Gov. Rick Snyder on the topic of developing, attracting, and retaining talent in our state. After being involved in such a positive meeting, I’m shocked that House Bills 4770 and 4771, negative measures that bar state employers from offering domestic partnership health benefits, have passed the Legislature and are waiting on the governor’s desk.

I won’t mince words. This legislation is bad for businesses, bad for education, bad for our state and deserves a veto from Governor Snyder. I recognize that this is NOT a battle that he was looking for, but I also know that he is the only one who can put an end to these legislative distractions that put ideological gamesmanship ahead of sound economic policies and the will of the people.


Jeff Pradnos

Let’s be clear. Governor Snyder has done an admirable job of maintaining focus on the highest priority tasks facing our state. He is doing exactly what he promised and exactly what the majority of Michigan citizens in both parties want. Unfortunately, there are elements of the Legislature that simply refuse to join him in his economic focus without dragging along a sideshow of social issues. These discriminatory bills are the latest sideshow and are counterproductive to Governor Snyder’s economic agenda.

Governor Snyder’s “Reinvent Michigan” initiative is thoughtful and comprehensive. HB 4770 and 4771 are mean-spirited and harmful.

Governor Snyder’s “Reinvent Michigan” initiative is measured and utilizes proven economic strategies. HB 4770 and 4771 go against the spirit of growth and inclusion.

Governor Snyder’s “Reinvent Michigan” initiative is forward-thinking and attractive to young people, the creative class, investors and entrepreneurs. HB 4770 and 4771 discourage thoughts of expansion, and encourage young people to flee to less hostile territory.

Sponsors of the bill point to the “high cost” of domestic partner benefits as the motivating force behind these bills. Yet, we all know that’s not true. Money in this debate is just window-dressing for discriminatory policies that will surely set our state back. First of all, the anti-gay rhetoric coming from the sponsors and supporters of this bill is appalling. Second, they haven’t been able to back their claims of high costs with reliable numbers.

Recently, an analysis conducted by the Michigan Civil Service Commission found that only about 140 eligible employees opted in to its benefits program, proving the true cost of these domestic partner benefits was about $840,000 and not the $8 million figure propagated by supporters of the bills. That’s much less than 1 percent of the state’s healthcare budget. In addition, the City of Kalamazoo and the University of Michigan report spending 0.2 percent and 0.7 percent of their overall healthcare budgets respectively on their “designated other” programs.

Governor Snyder has been relentlessly focused on rebuilding and reinventing Michigan. Without a veto, Governor Snyder risks forever ceding focus to the same people who embarrassed Michigan on the comedy news shows with their attempt to protect bullying if it is motivated by sincere moral or religious convictions. A veto is the only option to protect Michigan and get us back on track.

Leaving employers free to do what they think is best for their employees is fair and logical. It should be part of our overall “Reinvent Michigan” strategy. A veto of HB 4770 and 4771 will not only help our state retain and recruit the brightest and best, it will put us back on the right side of history.

Jeff Padnos is proud to have been an early supporter of Rick Snyder. He is president of Padnos, a West Michigan based recycling company, which offers domestic partner benefits to its employees.



Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 3:18 p.m.

Public Universities have constitutional autonomy. The Michigan Civil Servive Commission sets pay rates and benefits for State employees and has State constitutional autonomy. Local governments have local control guarantees in the State constitution. The US Fourteenth Amendment prevents animus towards particular groups. All of these provide huge legal barriers to this legislation should the Governor sign it, which will insure the legal costs fighting it far outweigh the small costs of the benefits.

Black Coffee :)

Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 5:45 a.m.

I disagree


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 12:18 a.m.

I'm tellin ya, Republican's have gay kids too. There is no longer the wide backing for this type of thing. People change, people learn and progress. In my life time, folks argued as vociferously that black people were people, but still should be kept separate. Today we find this unfathomable. It will be the same with Gay rights. On another note - the State has NO business telling employers whom to offer benefits to. The religious block here seems to miss the irony that they are just another version of the Taliban and just as out of line. Let business make its own decisions and keep the religious issues in your churches. After all, some believe women must be subservient to be perfect in the sight of God, and sure as heck don't codify that poo into law. Full Disclosure: I am a registered Republican, despise the TP, and I have no gay kids. But my friends do, and they count.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 4:21 a.m.

Still no - benefits are to attract talent, not to make social policy. Otherwise, it becomes quite expensive and ridiculous, kind of like things are getting now.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 12:26 a.m.

"...the State has NO business telling employers whom to offer benefits..." Private employers, no. Taxpayer subsidized employers (UofM), yes.


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 11:36 p.m.

"HB 4770 and 4771 are mean-spirited and harmful." "First of all, the anti-gay rhetoric coming from the sponsors and supporters of this bill is appalling." I do not know how appalling it may seem, but the Michigan Republican Party made this legislation a top priority upon their gaining control of both chambers of the Michigan Legislature.

David Briegel

Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 12:43 a.m.

That should tell every citizen of our fair state how appalling YOUR TeaPublicon Party is and how much damage they do to our fair state! And it is truly a shame that you don't know how appalling this truly is!


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 10:34 p.m.

Simply allow gay marriage and the issue disappears along with fraud.


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 9:57 p.m.

This is a tough one, but I don't think it's anti gay. There have always been limits to who qualifies for employee benefits in the private and public sector, and I see this as defining those limits. How can you allow gay partner benefits, and not allow girlfriends, live in brothers or sisters, live in aging parents, live in children past the age of 27 and on and on? If you argue somehow gay partners are different than those examples, why would gay partners get special treatment over the others mentioned? We can't as a society just continue to give out special perks, especially in an economic environment where we can barly afford them for the employees they are intended for.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 5:56 a.m.

Why would gay partners get special treatment over the others mentioned? For the same reason that heterosexual spouses do.

David Briegel

Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 10:12 p.m.

The only reason is because our silly society denies them the right to marry! And once again we are arguing because our not so civil society doesn't provide health care for all! Perpetual War Profiteering? No problem. Health care? Evil!!

Mike D.

Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 9:06 p.m.

This will be the true test of Snyder's resolve to make Michigan a better place. If he doesn't veto, he's no better than all the other stuffed shirts bowing to the backwards right-wing social agenda that has befouled the state legislature for far too long. These bills would cost us more money, not less. Given what we know from existing data, gays are less likely to enroll spouses/partners than straights, and given that legislation like this will drive gay people from the state, resulting in the replacement of gay state employees with straight ones, we will see more spouses/partners enrolled, not fewer.


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 8:37 p.m.

I hope the Governor takes your advice to heart.

David Briegel

Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 8:36 p.m.

Well Jeff, you're spittin' into the wind on this one. You and Rick should have been Democrats. You're too sane and civilized for the party of "appalling anti-gay rhetoric". If it was only rhetoric! And backing claims with numbers and facts? How anti-TeaPublicon!


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 8:43 p.m.

Amen to that..... This election cycle may actually persuade those remaining moderate republicans that the epithet of RINO ( republicans in name only) scornfully levelled at them by the teaparty/rush limbaugh types is not worth the tsuris and that the democrats, with all their imperfections and differences are the better bet for affiliation ....