Asian coalition slams AB 1726
The state Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday will consider a bill that would change the way demographic information on Asians is collected in California.
Known as AB 1726, the bill is opposed by a broad coalition of groups. Many spoke out Wednesday against the bill in a rally led by California State Senator Bob Huff and organized by the Silicon Valley Chinese Association in Sacramento.
“It is a backdoor attack on [Proposition] 209,” Huff said, referencing the 1996 law that banned affirmative action in California. “By gathering the data, the concern is that they’re trying to overturn that.”
The bill was authored by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland. It will expand the number of possible demographic categories that public universities and health departments are required to collect. Currently California has Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, Asian Indian, Laotian, and Cambodian as Asian options, and Hawaiian, Guamanian, and Samoan for Pacific Islanders.
AB 1726 would add Asian categories Bangladeshi, Hmong, Indonesian, Malaysian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, Thai, and Pacific Islanders Fijian and Tongan to the equation.
Last year, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill due to philosophical concerns.
“Despite this utility, I am wary of the ever growing desire to stratify,” Brown said. “Dividing people into ethnic or other subcategories may yield more information, but not necessarily greater wisdom about what actions should follow.”
Asian groups protesting the bill had different concerns.
“America is a country that is all equal, for all races.” Rowland Unified School District Board Member Cary Chen said. According to Chen, AB 1726 would lay the groundwork for a repeal of Proposition 209. Passage, said Chen, would further divide the Asian community.
The bill will come before the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday, where it could be sent to the floor or killed.
If Appropriations advances the bill, a vote could be taken in the next three weeks, according to Legislative Aide Rylan Gervase. If it passes, it’ll head back to the Assembly for one last vote. If it can clear the Assembly, it’ll be up to Governor Jerry Brown to sign it into law, or veto it.
State Sen. Bob Huff has been a client of Pegasus Communications, which publishes this news website.