DOMESTIC PARTNERS: Davis to Extend Coverage to State Workers
Governor Davis' administration announced Thursday that he intends to sign a bill extending health care coverage to the partners of gay state employees. Under the legislation, AB 26, same-sex couples at least 18 years old could register with the secretary of state's office if they share living expenses and are not married or in another domestic partnership. Same-sex partners of local government employees covered by the California Public Employees' Retirement System also would be eligible to receive the health benefits under the legislation, which was authored by Assemblywoman Carole Midgen (D-San Francisco). Currently, domestic partner rights are offered only to University of California employees. The Governor simultaneously announced plans to veto a similar bill by state Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Los Angeles) that would offer more benefits to domestic partners. In the face of the governor's announcement, opponents of AB 26 have stepped up their national campaign to defeat the bill (Rojas, Sacramento Bee/Capitol Alert, 9/24).
More From the Floor
Awaiting a decision from Davis are two additional pieces of health care legislation that have received far less publicity -- and that deserve his approval, according to a Sacramento Bee editorial. The first, SB 480, (see next story) would create a statewide conversation around how to deliver and finance universal health care in California. The bill simply directs California's Health and Welfare Agency secretary to facilitate a series of broad-based stakeholder forums and report back to the legislature by the end of 2001. "This kind of effort to build a consensus on universal care ... is hardly a bold step, but it's a useful first one for California's uninsured." The second bill, AB 155, would allow workers with disabilities to pay a premium to stay on Medi-Cal even when they earn up to 250 % of the federal poverty level. Many disabled people currently must choose between employment and full health benefits. "Certainly it's better, both for taxpayers and disabled people, to have them at work, paying taxes and a portion of their health costs, than at home receiving welfare and all their medical care at taxpayer expense," the editorial said ( Sacramento Bee, 9/25).