Outgoing Gov. Tim Kaine proposed the policy change, but the state's new attorney general advised against it.
RICHMOND -- On the advice of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a proposed state regulatory change to allow government employees to add same-sex partners to their state health benefits has been withdrawn from consideration.
The suggested policy change from Democratic former Gov. Tim Kaine became public last month in the waning days of his term, eliciting support from gay groups and condemnation from social conservatives.
If adopted, it would have permitted insured state workers to include "other qualified adults" living in their households -- such as domestic partners, adult children and other relatives -- to the state's health coverage system.
Kaine administration officials claimed that wouldn't increase state expenses because employees adding a person would pick up all the extra costs. But a state fiscal analysis dated Jan. 12 indicates that "insufficient data" and certain unknown variables make cost calculations problematic.
Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell has not given his thoughts on the proposal in response to reporters' questions.
Yet according to a spokesman, McDonnell concurs with aspects of the legal rationale contained in a recent letter from Cuccinelli to the governor that concludes with a withdrawal recommendation.
Lack of statutory authority by the state Department of Human Resource Management over the proposed regulation is among the reasons cited in the missive Cuccinelli, a Republican, penned to McDonnell as a "response to your request for advice."
When reached by telephone Sunday, Cuccinelli, a Republican, said his objections are based on law, not his personal conservative beliefs.
The Kaine administration "ignored the law" which makes clear that the kind of change proposed would require General Assembly approval, the attorney general added.
When it was revealed last month, Kaine's proposed change drew plaudits from the state Log Cabin Republicans, a gay and lesbian political group, and groans from Virginia's Family Foundation, a social conservative group.
At the time, Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb called it a partisan shot from the outgoing Kaine.
On Sunday, group spokesman Chris Freund expressed satisfaction that what he deemed an attempt to circumvent the legislative process had been thwarted.
"These are serious issues that should be debated within the legislature and voted on accordingly," he said.
Messages left for David Lampo, vice president of the Log Cabin Republican Club of Virginia, to seek his reaction were not immediately returned.
Even if the proposed regulation hadn't been withdrawn, at least one lawmaker was seeking to prevent the change through the legislative process.
Conservative Del. Bob Marshall, R-Prince William County, has submitted a budget amendment to define only children and blood relatives as eligible for health benefits through a state employee, thus excluding domestic partners.
Source really does sometimes read their regional paper.
oh state, why do you hurt me when I like you so much? although in all honesty I have to respect Tim Kaine for even bringing it to the table here...