Pushback From Vietnamese-Americans and Vets Stops CA Bill That Would Have Repealed Ban on Communists

The bill's Democrat sponsor withdrew his support Wednesday after apologizing to veterans and those who have fled communist regimes.

FILE — Dung Nguyen was among Hundreds of Vietnamese-Americans protesting outside during the Irvine council meeting over proposal to establish a "friendship" relationship with city in Vietnam. Many of the same Vietnamese-Americans who fled the communist regime protested AB22, a California bill that would have repealed a ban on communists working in California government. The bill’s sponsor withdrew the bill and apologized to Vietnamese-Americans and veterans.

By Published on May 18, 2017

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A bill that would have let communists legally work in California government was withdrawn Wednesday after the sponsor said he learned it caused veterans and Vietnamese-Americans “distress and hurt.”

Assemblyman Rob Bonta, a Democrat from the San Francisco Bay Area, announced he was shelving the bill and apologized to veterans and people who fled the communist regime in Vietnam.

His bill, AB22, would have repealed part of state law enacted during the Red Scare of the 1940s and ’50s when fear that communists were trying to infiltrate the U.S. government was rampant. The Cold War-era law made belonging to the Communist Party a fireable offense for public employees.

Bonta said such provisions have since been ruled unconstitutional. Under his bill, employees could still have been fired for belonging to organizations they know advocate overthrowing the government by force or violence.

The Assembly narrowly approved the bill last week. Some Assembly Republicans spoke forcefully against the measure before voting against it.

Republican Assemblyman Randy Voepel, who fought in the Vietnam War, said communists in North Korea and China are “still a threat.”

“This bill is blatantly offensive to all Californians,” said Assemblyman Travis Allen, a Republican a coastal district in Southern California. “Communism stands for everything that the United States stands against.”

Assemblyman Ash Kalra, one of Bonta’s fellow Democrats, praised his colleague for shelving the bill, saying it caused pain for many of his constituents.


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