BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 205
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          CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENTS
          AB 205 (Goldberg)
          As Amended August 21, 2003
          Majority vote
           
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          |ASSEMBLY:  |41-32|(June 4, 2003)  |SENATE: |23-14|(August 28,    |
          |           |     |                |        |     |2003)          |
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           Original Committee Reference:    JUD.  

           SUMMARY  :  Seeks to extend most of the rights and  
          responsibilities available to spouses solely available under  
          state law to registered domestic partners.  Specifically,  this  
          bill  :  

          1)Provides that registered domestic partners shall have the same  
            rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the  
            same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law as  
            are granted to and imposed upon spouses.  (All further  
            references to domestic partners refer to registered domestic  
            partners.)

          2)Provides that former domestic partners shall have the same  
            rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the  
            same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law as  
            are granted to and imposed upon former spouses.

          3)Provides that a surviving domestic partner, following the  
            death of the other partner, shall have the same rights,  
            protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same  
            responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law as are  
            granted to and imposed upon a widow or a widower.

          4)Provides that the rights and obligations of domestic partners  
            with respect to a child of either of them shall be the same as  
            those of spouses and the rights and obligations of former or  
            surviving domestic partners with respect to a child of either  
            of them shall be the same as those of former or surviving  
            spouses.

          5)Repeals existing law providing for termination of a domestic  
            partnership under specified circumstances and instead provides  
            that a domestic partnership may be terminated in one of two  








                                                                 AB 205
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            ways:  a) Filing a Notice of Termination of Domestic  
            Partnership with the Secretary of State provided that certain  
            conditions are met (similar to those required in a summary  
            dissolution under Family Code Section 2400), including, among  
            other things, 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. 

          6)Requires the Secretary of State (SOS) to notify currently  
            registered domestic partners of the bill's changes to law and  
            makes related and conforming changes to the definition of  
            "domestic partner". 

          7)Provides that in filing their state income tax returns,  
            domestic partners shall use the same filing status as is used  
            on their federal income tax returns, or that would have been  
            used had they filed federal income tax returns.  

           The Senate amendments  ensure that courts have jurisdiction over  
          any proceedings related to a domestic partner's rights and  
          obligations, make other clarifying changes and delete the bill's  
          provisions permitting domestic partners to file joint or  
          separate state income tax returns. 

           AS PASSED BY THE ASSEMBLY  , this bill did not contain the  
          specific Senate amendments noted above and permitted domestic  
          partners to file joint or separate state income tax returns.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Senate Appropriations analysis,  
          the California Public Employees Retirement System notes that  
          costs for increased benefit eligibility associated with this  
          bill would be minor and would not result in an increase in rates  
          or actuarial assumptions.  Domestic partners already have rights  
          with respect to health benefits, which is the most costly area.   
          This bill will increase costs for contracting agencies, because  
          it eliminates a contracting agency's discretion in providing  
          health coverage for domestic partners of its employees and  
          annuitants.  Assuming an additional 600 enrollees at an annual  
          cost of $2,400 per enrollee, costs to employers and employees  
          could be $1.8 million annually.  A precise figure for the  
          additional cost to employers of this extended coverage is not  
          possible, because public agencies have different employer  
          contribution amounts.









                                                                  AB 205
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           COMMENTS  :  This bill seeks to extend most of the rights and  
          responsibilities available to spouses solely under state law to  
          domestic partners.  In support, the author states the bill: 

               ?[provides] a critical, urgently needed measure of equity  
               to registered domestic partners.  These couples today  
               enjoy less than twenty rights under California law.  Yet  
               they experience the same range of life challenges as  
               married couples do.  They pool their financial resources  
               to make ends meet.  They raise their children.  They care  
               for elderly relatives.  They cope with illness,  
               incapacity and, eventually, death.  Some of them separate  
               and disagree about their respective obligations.  There  
               is no good reason to deny these couples the legal rights  
               and duties that have been designed to help families care  
               for each other and cope with crises.  

               Granting the substantial rights and proportional  
               responsibilities provided for by this bill will further  
               the State's interest in promoting stable and lasting  
               family relationships.  It will not, however, create  
               equality.  Far from it.  Until same-sex couples have  
               access to the full range of legal protections at both the  
               state and federal level, through the same institution  
               with all of the same ceremonies and respect as  
               different-sex couples, they will continue to experience  
               very substantial economic and practical hardships and  
               discrimination.  Though it will not create equality, this  
               bill nonetheless will improve the lives of many thousands  
               California families in tangible, important ways.  
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Saskia Kim / JUD. / (916) 319-2334

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