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From Draft NOtices, October-December 2015

Draft Registration Bill Defeated in California

— Rick Jahnkow

More and more cities have begun to pave the way toward economic justice by supporting the nationwide iThe seventh effort by Selective Service to pass legislation that would boost draft registration compliance in California collapsed when the proposal received several crippling amendments, followed by a veto by Governor Brown.

Assembly Bill 82 passed the California Assembly, but in order to get it through the Senate Appropriations Committee and onto the Senate floor, its author, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, was forced to accept poison pill amendments that would neutralize it.

When AB 82 went to the state senate, it passed by a 40-0 vote. It then went to Governor Brown, who vetoed it on October 9 with the following statement:

To the Members of the California State Assembly:

I am returning Assembly Bill 82 without my signature.

This bill requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to provide men with the option to register with the U.S. Selective Service System when applying for an original driver's license.

In view of the relatively easy ways that young men can register for the U.S. Selective Service System such as registering online, at their high school, or at a local post office, I don't think this new responsibility for the Department of Motor Vehicles is advisable."

Even if it had been signed by Governor Brown, the amendments would have drastically curtailed the bill’s impact and probably prevented it from ever being implemented. There are three main reasons for this:

1. One amendment would have made draft registration optional instead of mandatory for men to obtain a license. Male license applicants would have been given an opt-in box to check if they wished their information to be forwarded for Selective Service registration, but they also would have been told very clearly that it is NOT required for a license.

2. The bill would have required Selective Service to cover all the first-year costs necessary to set up and operate a system to allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to register male driver’s license applicants with Selective Service. The total cost estimate of $435,000-$555,000 included expenses for adding an extra page to the license application form, training DMV personnel, modifying the DMV computer system, and conducting registrations for the first year. Selective Service’s policy, however, has been to refuse to contribute any funds unless draft registration is made mandatory and automatic. An opt-in bill similar to AB 82 passed in Maryland years ago but has never been activated because Selective Service still refuses to grant any subsidy.

3. Selective Service would have been required to promise that it would not forward any personal information on license applicants to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services “for any purpose.” Selective Service, however, says in its published Privacy Act Statement that it does share information with USCIS “for responding to inquiries concerning aliens.” Therefore, in order to gain implementation of AB 82, it would have had to change its official recordkeeping policy and at least some of the procedures it would follow when conducting a future draft.

The amendments that were added to AB 82 reflected many of the points raised by groups that lobbied against AB 82, including Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (COMD). Other opponents were the ACLU of California, American Friends Service Committee, Automobile Club of Southern California, California Immigrant Policy Center, Friends Committee on Legislation of California, Peace & Freedom Party of California, San Diego Immigrant Youth Collective, and the state’s own Department of Finance.

It is possible for the legislature to override the governor’s veto, but if that happened the poison pill amendments described above would still be in effect.

This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (http://www.comdsd.org/).

       

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