‘Opt-Out’ Bill Faces Uncertain Fate

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday May 16, 2006

A high school military recruitment notification bill sponsored by two Bay Area Assemblymembers continued to sail through committee last week, with a 5-3 vote in the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee. 

But continued Republican opposition means that the fate of the proposed law will be ultimately in the hands of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

The bill could now be voted on by the full Assembly at any time. 

Federal law requires that military recruiters be allowed access to high school contact information unless the students or their parents inform the school that they are “opting out” of the recruitment process. 

AB 1778, co-sponsored by Assemblymembers Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) and Sally Lieber (D-San Jose), would require that the “opt out” notification be sent to parents each year as a part of the emergency notification form which parents must fill out and send back. 

The legislators say that many parents and students are not aware that they have the right to opt out, and more will choose the option if they are better informed. 

The bill passed the Veterans Affairs Committee on a party-line vote, just as it did two weeks ago in the Assembly Education Committee, with Democrats supporting the bill and Republicans opposing. 

Because Democrats only comprise 60 percent of the state legislature, any bills must gain Republican support in order to survive a potential veto by Governor Schwarzenegger. 

The governor’s office has not yet taken a position on the Hancock-Lieber bill.