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From Draft NOtices, April—June 2011

California DMV/Draft Registration Bill Headed for Another Defeat

—Rick Jahnkow

It appears likely that Senate Bill 251, the proposal to use the California Department of Motor Vehicles to register males with Selective Service, will die in the senate appropriations committee for the fifth time in eleven years.

The first hearing for SB 251 was on April 12, 2011, in the California Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. At that time, the language of the bill was designed to automatically register males with Selective Service when they apply for their driver’s license. However, before the committee voted 7-2 to endorse the bill, the bill’s sponsor, Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), had to agree to modify it so that it would only offer license applicants an opportunity to opt in if they wished to be registered. To institute such a procedure, the state DMV would have to revise all of its application forms and computer system, and begin forwarding registration information to Selective Service on an ongoing but selective basis.

Thirty-six other states have implemented some type of registration process for driver’s license applicants. A law passed in Maryland has never been implemented because it was made contingent on receiving full reimbursement for its expenses from the federal government. Selective Service has been unwilling to provide such reimbursement, which became relevant when SB 251 was  given its next hearing, on May 9, in the California Senate Appropriations Committee.

Earlier, a Selective Service representative had told one of the appropriations committee members that the bill could be implemented for under $25,000, no doubt hoping it would neutralize any financial concerns. However, just prior to the May 9 committee hearing, it was revealed that the DMV’s estimate was a one-time cost of $515,000, plus an ongoing annual cost of approximately $211,000. Because of this cost, the committee automatically placed SB 251 in its “suspense file,” meaning it could not be voted on until a later hearing when the appropriations committee planned to review all expense-related bills together. That hearing occurred on May 26, at which time SB 251 was left in the suspense file.

During the legislative committee hearings, many letters opposing the bill were submitted by individuals and organizations. The Automobile Association, for example, opposed the bill because California constitutionally restricts the way auto fees and related taxes can be used, and having the DMV perform this function for the federal government would violate the state constitution. Other groups and individuals gave additional reasons for rejecting the bill. There were fewer letters of support, mostly from veterans’ organizations.

Special action would now be required to bring the bill forward, but in all likelihood it will be officially dead on January 31, 2012.

This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (


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