BILL SUMMARY for SB09-088
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON STATE, VETERANS, & MILITARY AFFAIRS
|Moved to refer Senate Bill 09-088 to the Committee
01:33 PM -- Senate Bill 09-088
The committee was called to order. A quorum was present. Representative Ferrandino, prime sponsor, presented Senate Bill 09-088, concerning the extension of state employee group benefits to domestic partners of state employees. Representative Ferrandino explained the bill's effect, and discussed his reasons for sponsoring the legislation. Representative Ferrandino responded to questions regarding his contention that the bill will help the state be more competitive in the labor marketplace, and the fiscal impact of the bill. Discussion ensued regarding the fiscal impact of Senate Bill 09-088, and the source of funding to cover the cost of the bill. The discussion included the method by which the number of domestic partners projected to take advantage of the bill's benefits was determined in the fiscal note.
Discussion continued regarding the fiscal impact of Senate Bill 09-088.
The following persons testified regarding Senate Bill 09-088:
01:45 PM -- Mr. Jim Hagan, representing himself, testified in opposition to the bill. Mr. Hagan first discussed the efficacy of state health benefits. Mr. Hagan then discussed tax burdens at various levels of government, and the impact the bill's cost will have on the provision of other government services, particularly in light of the economic downturn. Mr. Hagan also discussed the impact of rising tax burdens on the poor. Mr. Hagan then questioned the need for the legislation, and the potential for additional future expenses if the bill were to pass. Mr. Hagan addressed the contention that the bill will improve the state's competitiveness in the labor marketplace, and the potential for voter disapproval of the bill. Discussion ensued regarding the ability of the legislature to raise taxes.
01:55 PM -- Mr. Stephen Jimenez, representing himself, testified in opposition to Senate Bill 09-088. Mr. Jimenez discussed his professional background, the public's perception of the current economic climate, and the continued burdening of the taxpayer by fees and taxes. Mr. Jimenez then discussed the bill's obstruction of the people's will, and the potential for a political backlash if the bill were to pass. Finally, Mr. Jimenez discussed the nation's bankrupting by legislatures. Discussion ensued regarding the bill's lack of a safety clause, and the defeat of a statewide initiative that would have recognized same-sex civil unions.
02:06 PM -- Ms. Jenny Kraska, representing the Colorado Catholic Conference, testified in opposition to the bill. Ms. Kraska discussed the importance of marriage to society, and opposed the equivocation of marital and nonmarital unions. Discussion ensued regarding the criteria that must be met to qualify for domestic partner benefits under the bill, and how these criteria would be verified. The discussion included consideration of the rulemaking authority granted by the bill to the Department of Personnel and Administration.
02:14 PM -- Ms. Jessica Langfeldt, representing Colorado Family Action, testified in opposition to Senate Bill 09-088. Ms. Langfeldt discussed discrimination by the bill against certain partnerships not covered by the bill, and the expression of the voters that a marriage is constituted of one man and one woman. Ms. Langfeldt responded to questions regarding the types of domestic partnerships that are not covered by the bill. Discussion ensued regarding Colorado Family Action's proposal that Colorado adopt a "plus one" policy for state employees, whereby such employees could choose one member their households as beneficiaries. Discussion followed regarding the bill's definition of domestic partner.
02:25 PM -- Mr. Bob Bongiovanni, representing Colorado WINS, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Bongiovanni discussed his domestic partnership situation, how his partnership would benefit from the extension of health benefits to same-sex partners of state employees, and the benefits that would accrue to the state were such health benefits to be extended. Mr. Bongiovanni also discussed the beneficial impact of Senate Bill 09-088 on the ability of the state to attract quality employees.
02:30 PM -- Ms. Lucia Guzman, representing the City and County of Denver, testified in support of Senate Bill 09-088. Ms. Guzman discussed the fairness, human rights, and diversity implications of the legislation. Ms. Guzman also discussed Denver's experience with extending group benefits to domestic partnerships. Ms. Guzman responded to questions regarding the fiscal impact of extending these benefits in Denver, and whether Denver considered a "plus one" group benefits system. Ms. Guzman responded to further questions regarding how Denver verifies domestic partnerships, how Denver defines domestic partnerships, and the rate at which these benefits are used in Denver.
Discussion continued regarding the definition of domestic partnership in Denver.
02:41 PM -- Ms. Kelly Shanahan, representing the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, testified in favor of the bill. Ms. Shanahan discussed the initiative, and the importance of health insurance to all individuals.
02:43 PM -- Ms. Joyce Rubin, representing the Anti-Defamation League, testified in support of Senate Bill 09-088. Ms. Rubin discussed equitable treatment for same-sex partnerships under the bill, and the extension of group benefits to domestic partners by other governments and private employers.
02:45 PM -- Ms. Angela Williams, representing the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce, testified in favor of the bill. Ms. Williams related a situation in Denver where a city employee took advantage of that city's domestic partnership group benefits.
02:48 PM -- Ms. Lorena Garcia, representing 9 to 5, testified in favor of Senate Bill 09-088. Ms. Garcia discussed equitable treatment for domestic partnerships by the bill, and explained how the state will become more competitive in the labor marketplace as a result of the extension of domestic partnership group benefits.
02:50 PM -- Ms. Jacquelyn Kilmer, representing Colorado AIDS Project and Colorado Organizations Responding to AIDS, testified in favor of the bill. Ms. Kilmer discussed the extension of fairness and equity by the bill, and the need to extend the scope of health care coverage. Discussion ensued regarding the potential fiscal impact of Senate Bill 09-088, and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among state employees.
02:54 PM -- Ms. Mindy Barton, representing Equal Rights Colorado, testified in favor of Senate Bill 09-088, discussing the benefits to be realized by the bill's passage. Ms. Barton discussed the fiscal impact of the bill, and the process by which domestic partnerships are verified under the bill. Ms. Barton also discussed putting the needs of state workers first. Discussion returned to the fiscal impact of the bill, and how it will differ from costs associated with domestic partnership benefits coverage by other governments.
Representative Ferrandino provided closing remarks in favor of Senate Bill 09-088.
| 03:00:37 PM
|Moved to refer Senate Bill 09-088 to the Committee on Appropriations with favorable recommendation. The motion passed on a 6-3-2 roll call vote.
Final YES: 6 NO: 3 EXC: 2 ABS: 0 FINAL ACTION: PASS