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Senate panel passes gay partners benefits proposal

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Partners of gay local government employees could receive health care benefits under a bill that passed its first Senate test.

"This is an issue of local control," said the bill's author, Sen. Linda Higgins, DFL - Minneapolis. "The Legislature shouldn't prevent cities and counties from implementing good hiring practices."

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Higgins' bill, which gives local governments the option of providing benefits, is headed to the full Senate.

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