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SACRAMENTO, Calif.-A bill that would require insurers to give employers the option of covering domestic partners is awaiting hearing in the California Senate Appropriations Committee after passing the Assembly last month.

Under A.B. 1059, introduced by Assemblywoman Carole Migden and passed June 2 by 42-34 vote, insurers and health maintenance organizations offering group health care benefits to California employers would be required to make spousal-type coverage available to workers' same-sex partners. The bill also would apply to unmarried men and women living together.

She explained that the bill merely follows the practices of many large companies-including American Express Co., Coors Brewing Co., Walt Disney Co. and Microsoft Corp.-that already offer health benefits to domestic partners.

To further improve chances of passing the bill, Assemblywoman Migden also agreed to omit provisions calling for state recognition of domestic partnerships through a registry system.

No hearing date has yet been set by the Senate committee that is reviewing the measure.