Features

‘Opt Out’ Military Recruitment Bill Heads to State Senate

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday June 27, 2006

A California bill designed to inform high school students and their parents of their right to withhold contact information from military recruiters won Republican support in the state legislature last week but not nearly enough to survive a possible gubernatorial veto. 

Mountain View Democratic Assemblymember Sally Lieber’s AB1778 Release of Student Contact Information bill—co-sponsored by Berkeley Assemblymember Loni Hancock—passed the State Senate Education Committee 9-1-1. 

All of the committee’s eight Democrats supported the bill and the three Republicans split down the middle, with one voting in support, one voting against, and one senator’s vote recorded as “pass.” Staff members for Carlsbad Republican Senator Bill Morrow were not certain whether the senator abstained on the vote or was not present when the vote took place. Morrow is chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  

The bill now goes to the full Senate. 

Immediately following the Education Committee meeting, Lieber’s office issued a press advisory stating that the bill had passed “on a BIPARTISAN vote,” with the capital letters included in the advisory. 

Lieber’s bill did not receive a single Republican vote in passing the Assembly Education or Veterans Affairs committees and the full Assembly earlier this spring. 

With Democrats holding 63 percent of the seats in the Senate and 61 percent in the Assembly, the bill would have to receive two Republican Senate votes and five Republican Assembly votes, while holding all the Democratic votes, in order to survive a possible veto by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Two Democrat Assemblymembers, Nicole Parra of the Central Valley and Tom Umberg of Anaheim, voted against the measure when it passed the full Assembly earlier this month. 

The vote of the lone Republican Senate Education committee member who supported Lieber’s bill cannot be considered a Republican trend. San Jose State Senator Abel Maldonado has a habit of voting independent of the Republican Party line. 

The fiscally conservative Maldonado, who came in second in last month’s Republican primary for state controller, has supported both the pro-choice and pro-life abortion positions almost equally (67 percent support for Planned Parenthood of California in 2004, 79 percent for the Life-Priority Network in 2003), and voted with the California Republican Assembly 50 percent in 2005.  

Maldonado’s press information officer said that the senator voted for the Lieber bill “on his own,” and did so “because he sees this as a parental rights issue. It’s important that they have control over who gets their children’s personal information.” 

The Maldonado spokesperson said they did not necessarily see this as a move by the Senate Republican Caucus toward supporting the Lieber bill.