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Senate passes K-12 health benefits bill

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on April 11, 2012 at 4:23 am |
April 11, 2012 4:45 am

Senators moved just after 4 a.m. to try to equalize health-insurance benefits for full-time and part-time school district employees and their families, with a proposal negotiated between Democrats and Republicans that was made public just minutes before the vote.

It passed with the bare minimum majority, 25-20, and was sent to the House over the objections of the state teacher’s union, which made a last-ditch effort against the proposal Tuesday.

Here’s the text of the bill, the last of three so-called reform measures demanded by Republicans. It mandates that school districts meet certain requirements, including making all employees pay a share of premiums, offering a high-deductible health plan and tying the price of individual and family benefits.

Its chief proponent, Democratic Sen. Steve Hobbs, said districts that meet those requirements would receive incentives and those that don’t meet them could be placed in a state insurance system.

The negotiated deal does not allocate $26 million for implementation of the proposal, as a previous version did. GOP Sen. Joe Zarelli said the measure does provide $5 million in future years for incentives to districts, but said it didn’t make sense to provide further money without knowing yet exactly what the costs would be.

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