BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  SB 973
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   August 17, 2005

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                                   Judy Chu, Chair

                     SB 973 (Kuehl) - As Amended:  June 30, 2005 

          Policy Committee:                              PERSSVote:4-2

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

           SUMMARY  

          This bill amends laws governing CalPERS and CalSTRS, and the  
          1937 Act County Employee Retirement System, to achieve  
          conformity with AB 205 (Goldberg), Chapter 421 of 2003, which  
          granted the domestic partners of public employees the same  
          retirement survivor rights as spouses.  Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Clarifies that for purposes of survivor continuance benefits,  
            a "surviving spouse" includes a domestic partner.

          2)Allows members who retired before the establishment of the  
            domestic partnership registry to qualify their domestic  
            partners for survivor continuance benefits.

          3)Clarifies the administration of domestic partner community  
            property settlements to ensure compliance with federal law.

          4)Amends provisions in the Public Employees' Medical and  
            Hospital Care Act (PEMHCA - the law governing CalPERS health  
            program) to ensure that domestic partners are eligible to  
            receive health benefits in the same manner as spouses.

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          1)The affected retirement systems report that this bill will  
            impose minimal costs and merely clarifies provisions of AB  
            205.  

          2)The domestic partners of members who retired prior to the  
            establishment of the domestic partnership registry could  
            qualify for survivor continuance benefits under the affected  








                                                                  SB 973
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            retirement systems by signing an affidavit under the penalty  
            of perjury making specified statements.  By expanding the  
            scope of an existing crime, perjury, this bill would impose a  
            state-mandated local program.  Local enforcement costs would  
            not be state-reimbursable.

           COMMENTS  

           1)Background  .  AB 26 (Migden), Chapter 588 of 1999, established  
            the domestic partnership registry in the California Secretary  
            of State's office.  Currently, same-sex partners and partners  
            of the opposite sex, one of whom is over age 62, may register  
            for a domestic partnership.  Any provision in law applicable  
            to domestic partners generally refers to partners who have  
            registered with the Secretary of State.

            AB 205 (Goldberg), Chapter 421 of 2003, extended to domestic  
            partners many of the same rights conferred upon spouses in a  
            civil marriage, particularly those relating to retirement  
            benefits, death benefits, and community property benefits. It  
            also mandated the provision of health coverage for domestic  
            partners in the same manner as provided to spouses, removing  
            the issue from the collective bargaining process at the state  
            level and eliminating local agency discretion.

          2)Purpose  .  This bill is intended to remove remaining statutory  
            barriers for public employees in registered domestic  
            partnerships that impede the full implementation AB 205.  The  
            bill allows the domestic partners of members who retired prior  
            to the establishment of the domestic partner registry to  
            qualify for survivor continuance benefits by signing an  
            affidavit that makes specified statements.  The bill protects  
            CalPERS from violating federal law in administering community  
            property settlements, especially in the event of a domestic  
            partnership termination.  Finally, the bill amends provisions  
            in PEMHCA to ensure that domestic partners are eligible to  
            receive health benefits in the same manner as they are  
            provided to spouses, as required by AB 205.

           Analysis Prepared by :    Stephen Shea / APPR. / (916) 319-2081