Texas Republican pushing — again — to strip same-sex couple benefits from school workers
Texas state Rep. Drew Springer (R) is attempting for the second time to eliminate benefits programs for public school employees in same-sex couples, the Texas Observer reported.
Springer proposed an amendment to the state budget giving Education Commissioner Michael Williams and Attorney General Ken Paxton — both Republicans — the leeway to determine whether school districts are violating the state ban on marriage equality through the use of expanded benefits programs.
Districts would then have 60 days to “correct” the violation or risk losing their state funding.
Springer wrote a bill proposing similar sanctions two years ago, but the measure was voted down in committee.
The LGBT advocacy group Equality Texas said in a statement that Springer’s amendment specifically targets the school districts in Pflugerville and Austin, where employees have “plus-one” programs covering same-sex couples.
“The benefit programs allow an employee to name a second person who is financially interdependent with them and co-resides with them to receive benefits,” the group stated. “The programs were constructed to comply with Attorney General guidance.”
Earlier this month, Paxton advised state agencies not to recognize an expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act allowing same-sex couples to take unpaid leave to deal with health emergencies while retaining insurance coverage through their employers.
He also filed a lawsuit challenging the new rule, saying it was about “defending the sovereignty of our state.”