Mayor Mike Bell has proposed extending health insurance benefits to City of Toledo employees who are in a domestic partnership. Here are the details....
Toledo Mayor Michael P. Bell today sent legislation to City Council proposing to include the qualified and registered domestic partners of city employees in the eligibility for certain benefits. The legislation would extend the same health, dental and vision benefits to partners as is offered to spouses and dependant children of city employees.Definition of domestic partnership in Toledo Municipal Code:
Eligibility would be extended to same sex or heterosexual couples who meet the definition of “domestic partner” as set forth in Chapter 114 of the Toledo Municipal Code. The legal definition was established in 2007 when Toledo enacted the Domestic Partnership Registry. Couples must participate in the registry to formalize their relationship and be eligible for the benefits.
The benefits do not come without a cost to employees. Similar to employees that participate in the city plan to access coverage for a spouse or children, the premium cost must be paid for a single plus one or family coverage. Additionally, under the federal Internal Revenue Code, the value of the benefits is considered imputed income for employees and will be reflected in their W-2.
“This legislation helps us update our human resources policies, attempts to provide equal standing for all of our employees, and allows us to be a more competitive employer through our recruitment and hiring policies,” said Mayor Bell.
Toledo is not charting a new course with the proposed policy. Other Ohio cities and counties including Cleveland, Columbus, Lucas County and Franklin County offer domestic partner benefits, as does the University of Toledo and the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce. Currently, 21 states and over 200 local governments nationwide and 14 colleges and universities around Ohio offer health insurance and other benefits to their employees’ domestic partners.
The administration will ask for first reading of the legislation at the May 1st agenda review meeting of council.
DEFINITIONS. As used in this Chapter:
(1) "Domestic partnership" refers to the non-marital intimate relationship of two adults of the same or different sex, who share a common residence and affirm that they share responsibility for each other's common welfare, and have signed and filed a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the City.
(2) "Share a common residence" means that both domestic partners share the same residence. It is not necessary that both domestic partners have title to the property where they reside or the legal right to possess the common residence. Two people may share a common residence even if one or both have additional residences. Domestic partners do not cease to share a common residence if one leaves the common residence but intends to return.
(3) Domestic partners will be deemed to have an "intimate" relationship and to "share responsibility for one another's common welfare" if they execute a Declaration of Domestic Partnership affirming that such facts are true.
(Ord. 705-07. Passed 11-13-07.)
Text of the legislation:
Authorizing the Mayor to amend plan documents of the of Toledo’s hospitalization/health, prescription drug, dental, vision, and life insurance benefit plan descriptions to include “domestic partners”, and declaring an emergency
SUMMARY & BACKGROUND:
By Ordinance No. 705-07, enacted on November 13, 2007, this Council established a Domestic Partnership Registry maintained by the City for committed unmarried couples, becoming the first major city in Ohio to do so. In addition, this Council was among the first in the entire state of Ohio to extend protection from discrimination to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in matters of employment and public accommodations, by Ordinance 1183-98, enacted on December 8, 1998.
Currently, 21 states and over 200 local governments, at least 98 Fortune 100 companies, 442 Fortune 500 companies, and approximately 9,000 other private companies, non-profit organizations and unions provide health insurance and other benefits to their employees’ domestic partners. In Toledo, these employers include the University of Toledo, Lucas County, Owens Corning, and the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce. Furthermore, the cities of Cleveland, Columbus, and Franklin County offer their employees domestic partner benefits and at least 14 Ohio public and private universities and colleges offer these benefits.
In order to further Toledo’s long-standing commitment to recruit and to retain the best employees for the City, and to ensure that the terms and conditions of City employment are extended on an equal basis to all employees, this Council has determined to provide employment benefits to employees’ domestic partners in registered domestic partnerships.
Be it Ordained by the Council of the City of Toledo:
SECTION 1: That the Mayor of Toledo is authorized to amend and to execute as appropriate and as soon as practicable the plan documents of the City of Toledo’s hospitalization/health, prescription drug, dental, vision, and life insurance benefit plan descriptions to include “domestic partners” of City of Toledo employees, as “domestic partner” is defined in accordance with Toledo Municipal Code Section 114, as necessary to effectuate the terms set forth in this Ordinance and to the extent allowable by state and federal law.
SECTION 2: That upon completion of any necessary amendments as authorized herein, a City of Toledo employee’s registered and qualified domestic partner, and the dependent children of the employee’s registered domestic partner, shall be treated in the same manner as a City of Toledo employee’s spouse or dependent children for the purpose of the following benefits: hospitalization/health insurance, prescription drug program, dental care insurance, sick leave, funeral leave, and any other applicable benefit afforded to an employee, their spouse, or their dependent children, to the extent allowable by state and federal law, including but not limited to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and the Family
Medical Leave Act.
SECTION 3: To qualify for any benefit as described under Sections 1 and 2 of this Ordinance, a City of Toledo employee must register Declaration of Domestic Partnership, in accordance with Toledo Municipal Code Section 114.04, with the Clerk of Toledo City Council.
SECTION 4: Upon a City of Toledo employee’s filing of a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership by an employee, the benefits as provided under this section to a registered domestic partner or the dependent children of the registered domestic partner shall terminate.
SECTION 5: That this Ordinance is hereby declared to be an emergency measure and shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage. The reason for the emergency lies in the fact that the same is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety and property, and for the further reason that this Ordinance must be immediately effective to preserve the City’s standing as a competitive employment environment and to provide for equal access to benefits for all City of Toledo employees.