BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 205
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   April 30, 2003

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                              Darrell Steinberg, Chair

                   AB 205 (Goldberg) - As Amended:  March 25, 2003 

          Policy Committee:                              JudiciaryVote:9-4

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          Yes    Reimbursable:              Yes

           SUMMARY  

          This bill extends most of the rights and responsibilities  
          available to married couples under state law to registered  
          domestic partners.  Specifically, this bill:

          1)Provides that, effective January 1, 2005, registered domestic  
            partners, former domestic partners, and surviving domestic  
            partners shall have the same rights, protections, and  
            benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities,  
            obligations, and duties under state law as granted to, and  
            imposed upon, spouses, former spouses, and widows or widowers,  
            respectively, of a civil marriage.  Among these rights are  
            laws regarding taxation, including joint filing of income tax  
            returns, marital tax exemptions, estate tax exemptions, and  
            non-reassessment of real property upon a spouse's death.  

          2)Provides that the rights and obligations of domestic partners  
            with respect to a child of either partner are the same as  
            those of former or surviving spouses in a civil marriage. 

          3)Repeals existing provisions for the termination of a domestic  
            partnership under specified circumstances and instead provides  
            for termination by: (a) filing a Notice of Termination of  
            Domestic Partnership with the Secretary of State (SOS) if  
            certain conditions are met, including that there are no  
            children involved and the domestic partnership is not more  
            than five years in duration; or (b) commencing proceedings for  
            dissolution, nullity, or legal separation in superior court.  

          4)Requires the SOS to notify all registered domestic partners,  
            prior to three specific dates, regarding the bill's changes to  
            law and also makes related and conforming changes to the  








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            definition of "domestic partner" and the law relating to  
            domestic partners.

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          1)General Fund revenue loss of up to several million dollars  
            annually from the joint filing of tax returns by domestic  
            partners.  (The total annual revenue loss is unknown, but  
            would depend on the number of domestic partners each year who  
            elect to file joint instead of single returns, the incomes of  
            these individuals, and the tax savings each partnership  
            realizes.  For example, there are currently almost 20,000  
            registered domestic partnerships.  If 10 to 20 percent of  
            partnerships filed jointly and realized tax savings of $500 to  
            $1,000 each, the total state revenue loss would be $1 million  
            to $4 million.)  

          2)The SOS estimates one-time costs of about $50,000 to revise  
            forms, prepare and mail the required notifications, and modify  
            software.

           COMMENTS  

           1)Purpose  .  This bill, sponsored by the Coalition for Pride and  
            Equality (CAPE), extends most of the rights and  
            responsibilities of marriage available under state law to  
            domestic partners.  CAPE maintains that granting these rights  
            will help domestic partners to "care for each other and their  
            families, including community property, financial support  
            obligations, assumption of parenting responsibilities, and  
            mutual responsibility for debts.  The bill will provide  
            crucial protections for children who deserve to have a fully  
            legalized relationship with both of their parents, and deserve  
            to have parents who have a recognized legal relationship to  
            each other."

            The author indicates that the bill is intended to ensure that  
            domestic partners have the opportunity to obtain the rights,  
            protections, benefits, responsibilities, are obligations  
            regarding such laws relating to: 

             a)   Domestic relations, including, but not limited to,  
               rights and obligations of financial support during and  
               after the relationship, community property, and evidentiary  
               privileges; 








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             b)   Child custody, visitation, and duties of financial  
               support of children; 

             c)   Title and other incidents of the acquisition, ownership,  
               or transfer of real or personal property during life or at  
               death, as well as laws relating to access to student family  
               housing, senior citizen housing, and rent control  
               protections; 

             d)   Obligations to make disclosures regarding spousal  
               relationships and to take other steps to prevent conflicts  
               of interest; 

             e)   Government benefits, including, but not limited to,  
               workers' compensation, public assistance, transfer of  
               licenses upon death, and the ability to apply for absentee  
               ballots and other documents for a spouse; 

             f)   Taxes, including, but not limited to, joint filing of  
               income tax returns, marital tax exemptions, estate tax  
               exemptions, and non-reassessment of real property upon a  
               spouse's death; 

             g)   Health insurance coverage for family members, family  
               care and medical leave, bereavement leave, coverage of  
               family members under medical, dental, life, and disability  
               insurance, and spousal pension rights and death benefits; 

             h)   Legal claims related to, or dependent upon, family  
               status, including, but not limited to, claims for loss of  
               consortium, and victim's compensation; 

             i)   Anatomical gifts, consent to autopsy and disposition of  
               remains, and rights of burial in family cemeteries; and

             j)   Laws prohibiting marital status discrimination. 

           2)Rights Not Granted  .  Not all of the rights and  
            responsibilities available to and imposed upon married couples  
            will be extended to domestic partners under this bill.  First,  
            the bill deals only with the rights and responsibilities  
            available under state and not federal law.  Thus, none of the  
            1,049 federal protections, benefits, and responsibilities (per  
            U.S. General Accounting Office), such as social security,  








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            Medicare, and federal tax considerations, would be extended to  
            domestic partners under this bill.  Second, the bill provides  
            no assurance to domestic partners that their partnerships will  
            be legally recognized in other states.  Third, this bill does  
            not address those rights and responsibilities available to  
            married couples under the California Constitution, initiative  
            statutes, or those statutes that have been established in ways  
            that cannot be changed by the Legislature with a bill passed  
            by a simple majority vote.

           3)Opposition  .  The Committee on Moral Concerns states that the  
            bill will "expand domestic partnership laws to be equal with  
            marriage, thus creating gay marriages?Contrary to the bill's  
            language, California has a legitimate interest in not  
            legalizing gay marriages or expanding domestic partner laws." 

            The Campaign for California Families also opposes this  
            measure, opining that the bill will "essentially create  
            homosexual 'marriage' in California by awarding virtually all  
            the rights of marriage to 'domestic partners,' which are  
            overwhelmingly homosexual couples." 

           4)Prior Legislation  . AB 26 (Migden)-Chapter 588/ Statutes of  
            1999, authorized domestic partnership registration in  
            California.  AB 25 (Migden), Chapter 893/Statutes of 2001  
            granted limited rights to domestic partners in the areas of  
            hospital visitation and health benefits if one of the partners  
            is a state employee. 

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Chuck Nicol / APPR. / (916) 319-2081