BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  SB 651
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          Date of Hearing:   July 13, 2011

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                                Felipe Fuentes, Chair

                     SB 651 (Leno) - As Amended:  June 22, 2011 

          Policy Committee:                              JudiciaryVote:6-3

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program: 
          No     Reimbursable:               

           SUMMARY  

          This bill eliminates some of the differences between marriages 
          and domestic partnerships.  Specifically, this bill:

          1)Eliminates the requirement that domestic partners share a 
            common residence requirement.

          2)Permits a person under 18 years of age to enter a domestic 
            partnership with the consent of a parent or guardian and a 
            court order, as provided.

          3)Directs the Secretary of State (SOS) to establish a process by 
            which two persons, who satisfy the requirements to be domestic 
            partners, and who have been living together as domestic 
            partners, may enter into a confidential Declaration of 
            Domestic Partnership.  The SOS must maintain the confidential 
            declaration as a permanent record not open to public 
            inspection, except upon court order issued upon a showing of 
            good cause. 

          4)Authorizes the SOS to charge a reasonable fee to offset the 
            costs directly associated with maintaining the required 
            confidentiality.

           FISCAL EFFECT  

           1)Administrative Costs  . The SOS will incur one-time costs of 
            around $100,000 for reprogramming related to establishing a 
            confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership. Any other 
            costs to the SOS for implementing the bill's provisions will 
            be minor and absorbable.









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           2)Revenue Impact  . SB 1827 (Migden)/Chapter 802 of 2006 allowed 
            registered domestic partners to file joint income taxes in 
            order to receive the same financial protection afforded to 
            married couples. According to the Franchise Tax Board, the 
            average income tax benefit for married filing jointly versus 
            those filing as single or head of household could range from 
            $200 to $1,500 per year depending on each individual's income 
            levels. For every 1% increase in registered domestic 
            partnerships, as a result of this bill, who receive this tax 
            benefit, the resulting income tax revenue loss is $110,000 to 
            $825,000 annually. Additionally, the exclusion from gross 
            income for specified medical expenses and health insurance 
            benefits for these additional domestic partnerships could 
            result in additional potentially significant lost tax revenue.

           3)Health Benefits  . The California Public Employees Retirement 
            System (CalPERS) has indicated that any employee adding a 
            spouse or domestic partner to his or her health plan increases 
            health benefit costs by $5,500 annually, plus unknown 
            increases for retiree and survivor's health benefits as 
            afforded by the state. Thus these costs will increase to the 
            extent that additional domestic partnerships formed under the 
            provisions of this bill involve state employees.

           COMMENTS  

           1)Background  . Under current law, in order to register as a 
            domestic partnership with the SOS, two people must: (a) have a 
            common residence; (b) not be married to someone else or be a 
            member of another domestic partnership; (c) not be related by 
            blood in a way that would prevent them from being married to 
            each other in this state; (d) be at least 18 years of age; (e) 
            be members of the same sex, or if members of the opposite sex, 
            one or both persons must be over the age of 62; and, (f) both 
            persons must be capable of consenting to the domestic 
            partnership. About 110,000 individuals are registered as 
            domestic partners in California.

           2)Purpose  . The California Supreme Court has found that, other 
            than the word marriage, same-sex couples in domestic 
            partnerships have the same substantive privacy and due process 
            protections as those accorded to opposite-sex married couples, 
            as well as the same broad protections under the state's equal 
            protection clause. Nevertheless, there are still many 
            differences between marriage and domestic partnership, some, 








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            of which are attributable to differences in state law.  This 
            bill, sponsored by Equality California, seeks to reduce the 
            legal differences between domestic partnership and marriage 
            that are the result of those differences in state law.

           3)Confidentiality Provisions  . Current law allows an unmarried 
            couple, who have been living together as husband and wife, to 
            get married confidentially. Confidential marriage certificates 
            are not open to public inspection without a court order.  This 
            bill creates a confidential declaration of domestic 
            partnership to allow a couple, who has not registered as 
            domestic partners, but has otherwise been living together as 
            domestic partners, to officially register as domestic 
            partners, with all the ensuing rights and responsibilities, 
            but to do so confidentially.

           4)Opposition  . The California Right to Life Committee, Inc. 
            opposes the bill "as bad policy and one that promotes the 
            homosexual agenda to normalize this lifestyle and change the 
            traditional concept of marriage as a contract between one man 
            and one woman."  

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