This page contains news for
the period Friday, October 01, 1999 through Sunday, October 03, 1999.
<< October 1999 >>
Saturday, October 2, 1999
California Governor signs one domestic
partner bill, vetoes another
The office of California Governor Gray Davis issued a press
release today announcing the actions he has taken on two domestic partner bills passed by
the legislature. One measure, AB 26, is limited to same-sex couples of any age and to
heterosexual couples if both parties are over the age of 62. The other bill, SB 75, would
have applied to all unmarried couples regardless of gender or age.
The following excerpts from the press release pertain to
these two bills. Other portions of the press release pertaining to other unrelated bills
have been omitted.
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
L99:181 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 2, 1999
GOVERNOR DAVIS SIGNS LEGISLATION TO PROTECT CALIFORNIANS FROM
SACRAMENTO -- Governor Gray Davis today signed historic
legislation that seeks to protect Californians from discrimination based on sexual
orientation. The bills signed by Governor Davis are:
AB 26 by Assemblywoman Carole Migden (D-San Francisco). This
bill establishes a statewide registry for domestic partnerships and provides hospital
visitation rights and health benefits to the domestic partners of state employees. AB 26
defines domestic partners as same sex couples and heterosexual couples age 62 or older
that meet certain requirements of financial responsibility.
The governor today also vetoed SB 75 by Senator Kevin Murray
(D-Los Angeles) calling the measure overly broad."
click on here for full text
of AB 26
click on here for full text
of SB 75
The veto message, which was attached to the press release,
October 2, 1999
To the Members of the Senate:
I am returning Senate Bill 75 without my signature because it
is overly broad.
However, I have signed Assembly Bill 26, which under
specified conditions will allow domestic partners to formalize their relationships through
registration with the Secretary of State, allow medical benefits to be extended to
domestic partners of state employees, and provide hospital visitation for domestic
Friday, October 1, 1999
Changes to Florida law governing living
wills take effect today
An article published today in the Marco Island News discusses
a new law on living wills that goes into effect today in Florida.
Although living wills and other advanced life directives can
make the final days of patients and their families more tranquil, the article reports that
fewer than one in five affected Floridians have planned ahead for such an important event.
It says that advocates for the elderly are hoping that the
changes in law which take effect today and a pilot program aimed at getting employers
involved will change all that by shedding light and disseminating information on what to
many will be the last important decision of their lives.
Aging with Dignity Founder Jim Towey announced last week that
Gov. Jeb Bush and other state agency heads will begin a pilot program to provide their
employees with the opportunity to complete "Five Wishes," an easy-to-use
advanced-care directive, or living will, developed by Towey's organization two years ago.
"I am very pleased with the work that the Aging with
Dignity organization is doing to help Florida families deal with unplanned crises and
illnesses of their loved ones," Gov. Jeb Bush wrote in support of the program.
"It's no longer enough for employers to speak of 'end-game' issues just in terms of
retirement plans and life insurance options."
The news story says that Florida has been on the leading edge
on end-of-life issues for years. Because of its large population of seniors, state
legislators have been pressed to accommodate elder constituents who have long been calling
for more flexibility and control over advanced care planning.
The new changes to Florida law will expand the conditions
under which living wills can function and clarify language as to what constitutes
life-prolonging care. With such changes being made, Towey told reporters that now is an
excellent time for Floridians of all ages to consider drawing up or revising their living
"With the new law taking effect, and because nearly
three out of four Florida deaths take place in a hospital or nursing home, the importance
of advanced care planning has never been greater," Towey told the newspaper.
A valid living will can guide children or siblings who may
have disagreements on a course of action, Towey said. When two caregivers disagree, the
patient's own preferences can alleviate a lot of frustration and bitterness.
Pain management is another area a living will can handle. The
article reports that without proper authorization, some medical facilities are reluctant
to increase pain relief medication to adequately ease suffering for fear that the
medication may have side effects.
Patients can also specify if they want tube feeding and
ventilation to keep them alive or whether they want such assistance ended. Tube feeding
and ventilation are often the last medical procedures to be discontinued.
The story says that beginning today, changes in Florida law
will clear up some of the ambiguity surrounding current law regulating end-of-life
decisions. Specifically, lawmakers expanded the scope of living wills to patients not only
in terminal condition or persistent vegetative states, but to persons suffering from
"end-stage condition," when the patient is incapacitated and completely
dependent physically. Medical treatment in such situations would be ineffective.
The new law also would include food and water as
life-prolonging procedures and therefore subject to living wills. Currently, there is no
universal agreement as to whether food and water can be withheld.
"We're trying to alleviate ambiguities regarding
end-of-life care," said state Greg Gay, an attorney specializing in elder law, told
reporters that patients should consider changing their living wills in light of the new
"Since the revisions to the living will statute do not
take effect until Oct. 1, it is important to understand that any living will signed before
Oct. 1 may be construed according to laws in effect when the living will was signed and
not according to these new provisions," Gay said.
Established in 1997, the Five Wishes program is the latest in
a series of efforts to inform Floridians about the need for end-of-life planning. So far,
the document is considered legal in 33 states. More than 600,000 Five Wishes packets have
been distributed nationwide.
The Five Wishes pamphlet deals with five critical areas and
asks patients and their families to answer in detail a series of questions involving who
will make decisions when the patient cannot; what types of medical treatment should be
used or avoided; medication and comfort, visitation and other issues. Once filled out and
notarized, it becomes a legal document.
"Under the Five Wishes, we get into what 'end-stage
condition' is and we put it in regular English," Towey said. "It allows people
to say how they want to treated."
To obtain a copy of "Five Wishes," send $5 to P.O.
Box 1661, Tallahassee, FL32302.