BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENTS


          AB  
          2761 (Low)


          As Amended  August 18, 2016


          Majority vote


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          Original Committee Reference:  JUD.


          SUMMARY:  Expands who may solemnize marriages in California to  
          include former elected officials.  Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Permits a former member of the Legislature, constitutional  
            officer of this state or a former member of Congress from this  
            state to solemnize a marriage.


          2)Permits a person who holds or formerly held a city or county  
            elected office to solemnize a marriage.


          3)Requires that anyone permitted to solemnize a marriage be at  
            least 18 years old.  


          4)Prevents an elected official from receiving compensation for  








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            solemnizing a marriage while holding office.  


          5)Prohibits former elected officials in 1) and 2) above, from  
            solemnizing marriages if they have been removed from office  
            due to committing an offense or convicted of an offense  
            involving moral turpitude, dishonesty or fraud.


          6)Eliminates the requirement that before a county supervisor,  
            mayor or city clerk of a charter city, as provided, may  
            solemnize a marriage he or she must first obtain and review  
            from the county clerk all available instructions for marriage  
            solemnization.


          The Senate amendments require that officials who solemnize  
          marriages be at least 18 years of age and that non-religious  
          officiants do not accept compensation for the solemnization and  
          do not solemnize marriages if they have committed specified  
          offenses.  


          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)For a marriage to be valid, requires the consent of the  
            parties, followed by the issuance of a license and  
            solemnization, as provided.  

          2)Provides that a marriage may be solemnized by authorized  
            persons of any religious denomination, by California  
            legislators, constitutional officers and members of Congress,  
            while those persons hold those offices, and by specified  
            justices, judges, and magistrates, both current and retired.   

           3)Provides that a county supervisor, elected mayor and city  
            clerk, as specified, may solemnize a marriage while he or she  
            holds that office.  Further requires that the supervisor,  
            mayor or city clerk must first obtain and review from the  
            county clerk all available instructions for marriage  
            solemnization before the supervisor, mayor or city clerk may  








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            solemnize a marriage.   

           4)Provides that the county clerk is designated as a commissioner  
            of civil marriages for each county.  Allows the commissioner  
            of civil marriages to appoint deputy commissioners of civil  
            marriages who may solemnize marriages under the direction of  
            the commissioner of civil marriages and perform other duties  
            directed by the commissioner.   

           FISCAL EFFECT:  None


          COMMENTS:  A marriage is not valid unless it is solemnized by an  
          authorized individual.  Under current law, marriages may be  
          solemnized by authorized persons of any religious denomination,  
          judges, commissioners, and magistrates.  In 1998, this list was  
          expanded to include California Legislators and constitutional  
          officers and members of Congress from California, during the  
          time period that those individuals hold those offices.  (AB 1094  
          (Committee on Judiciary), Chapter 932, Statutes of 1998.)  In  
          2010, elected mayors were also authorized to solemnize marriage  
          ceremonies, as long as they first receive training from the  
          county clerk.  (AB 2600 (Ma), Chapter 268, Statutes of 2010.)   
          In 2012, county supervisors were authorized to solemnize  
          marriage ceremonies, again as long as they first receive  
          training from the county clerk.  (SB 991 (Runner), Chapter 63,  
          Statutes of 2012.)  Finally, in 2014, city clerks were added,  
          again as long as they first receive training from the county  
          clerk.  (AB 1525 (Lowenthal), Chapter 450, Statutes of 2014.)  


          This bill again expands the list of those authorized to  
          solemnize marriages, this time to include former California  
          legislators, constitutional officers, members of Congress and  
          city and county elected officials.  This bill also deletes the  
          requirement that county supervisors, mayors and city clerks must  
          first obtain and review instructional materials before  
          solemnizing any marriages.  

          In support of the bill, the author states:

               Not only do legislators have the opportunity to enact  








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               policies to improve our state, they also have the  
               opportunity to solemnize weddings.  It's a unique  
               opportunity that only a select few are able to  
               perform.  However, legislators are only able to do  
               this while they are in office.  Should a sitting  
               member of the Legislature wish to officiate a wedding  
               after his or her term in office, one would have to  
               register with a county office to become a "deputy for  
               the day," pay a fee to the county office, and in some  
               cases, attend a class.  

               The law is inconsistent as it allows a retired  
               California judge or commissioner and a retired [United  
               States] US judge or magistrate to solemnize a wedding  
               even after they've left their judgeship. 

               This bill simply brings uniformity to the Family Code,  
               allowing a former member of the California Legislature  
               or constitutional officer, or former Member of  
               Congress to officiate a wedding.


          After a 15-year hodgepodge expansion of who may solemnize  
          marriages, this bill seeks to provide some uniformity to the  
          rules.  Like judges, elected officials will now be able to  
          solemnize marriages after they have left office.  This includes  
          former legislators, constitutional officers, members of Congress  
          and city and county elected officials, all from California.   
          However, since city clerks' authority to solemnize marriages is  
          indeed based on the position they hold, they will still only be  
          permitted to do so while holding their office.  Additionally,  
          this bill deletes the requirement that some officials, but not  
          all, are required to receive instruction before solemnizing a  
          marriage.  It is unclear why, for example, mayors and county  
          supervisors need that instruction, but a member of the  
          Legislature or a religious official does not.  This bill  
          eliminates the instruction requirement for all parties.   
          However, it is still assumed that if an authorized individual  
          does not understand what is required to solemnize a marriage, he  
          or she will learn what is required before officiating at the  
          ceremony.  This bill also prevents officials from accepting  
          compensation for the solemnizing marriages while holding office  








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          and prevents them from solemnizing marriages if they have  
          committed specified offenses.  


          Analysis Prepared by:                                             
                          Leora Gershenzon / JUD. / (916) 319-2334  FN:   
          0004782