Tue February 4, 2014
Domestic Partner Benefits Approved For Bexar County Employees
Bexar County Commissioners have unanimously passed a provision that would allow county employee benefits to be extended to domestic partners.
The county is calling it a “Plus One Qualifying Adult” benefits package. It’s essentially the same as domestic partnership benefits only under a different name. The provision will allow county employees to list one other adult they are financially interdependent with on their health, vision, dental, and life insurance plans.
County Judge Nelson Wolff said approval will depend on factors such as joint mortgages, vehicle title registration, life insurance policies, or joint bank accounts.
"Whether it’s a man-woman, man-man, woman-woman, whatever. It’s their business, their private life, but they have a right to be treated equally," Wolff said.
The provision excludes parents, grandparents, relatives, or roommates and tenants. Wolff said the county drafted this model when the attorney general ruled that domestic partnerships were not allowed in Texas. It’s similar to one created by the county judge in El Paso.
“She explained to me how they just didn’t address the issue of what the relationship might be," Wolff said. "It’s up to the two people in home what their relationship is. We’re not going to go open up your bedroom doors. If you meet the criteria you’re going to be eligible regardless of what your relationship is.”
Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff, the only Republican on commissioner’s court, said he favors the measure on its fiscal merit.
“I’m not looking at it from what I will call the social issue of domestic partners, I’m looking at it from a competitive issue and from an inclusive issue," said Commissioner Wolff.
He added that if it turns out to be too expensive if the county’s hospital system opts to join he’d call for repeal.
Commissioner Wolff attempted to add an amendment that would allow the inclusion for parents and grandparents but it was withdrawn.
The county itself has about 4,000 employees. The benefits are set to take affect under the county’s current health plan once Bexar County Manager David Smith can implement it. A set date has not been determined.