springfield civil union spousal benefits - Chicago Illinois Family Law Blog
In January, the decision to deny spousal benefits to Springfield city employees in civil unions was reversed by a unanimous vote of the Joint Labor/Management Health Care Committee. After the vote was initially denied in December, Springfield Mayor Mike Houston publicly declared his support of awarding spousal benefits to city employees in civil unions. Soon after that public announcement, the committee reversed its decision and granted benefits. Unfortunately, that reversal vote has since been thrown out by a Circuit Court Judge for violating the Open Meetings Act, according to The Windy City Times.
An Illinois Times reporter had filed suit after the Committee held a closed-door vote on extending spousal insurance benefits to civil union spouses in January. The Committee did unanimously vote to extend the benefits, but, because the Committee was a public committee, they were required to hold open meetings. Because the vote was conducted behind closed doors, a Judge ruled in favor of the reporter’s suit, which made the vote void.
In December, Springfield denied city employees civil union spousal benefits to the objections of LGBT rights groups. Soon after the decision, Springfield Mayor Mike Houston publicly announced his support of giving spousal benefits to the civil union partners of city employees and urged the Joint Labor/Management Health Care Committee to reverse its decision in the next session.
According to The Chicago Tribune, the committee has indeed reversed that decision, by a unanimous vote, and city employees who are in civil unions will be eligible for spousal health benefits in March of this year.
The Illinois civil union law was implemented in June 2011 and, since then, there have been a lot of changes and controversies. One of these controversies is the right for civil union spouses to claim spousal benefits. According to the Windy City Times, the Springfield Mayor is backing spousal benefits for city employees who are in a civil union, despite the fact that the Joint Labor/Management Health Care Committee voted against awarding those benefits in December.
The Springfield committee, which includes retirees and city staffers, voted to maintain the already established eligibility standards for insurance; the current standards do not include civil union spouses. The vote, or the result of the vote rather, is claimed by the committee members as being legal because Springfield is self-insured and not subject to the same regulations as commercially-insured employers. Supposedly, a bill for extending the spousal insurance benefits of married couples would increase the cost of insurance by $725,000. Although the Mayor said that the vote was indeed legal, he has altered his position and is now urging the committee to reassess theirs when the next quarter comes around.
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