In a shocking decision, Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill most thought would easily gain his signature. SB 174 by State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) would have allowed non U.S. citizens to serve on state and local boards and commissions.
In his veto message, Governor Brown wrote “This bill would open up all boards and commissions to non-citizens. I believe existing law—which requires citizenship for these forms of public service—is the better path.”
Senator Lara initially authored the bill believing the citizenship requirement for state posts originated with anti-Chinese immigration discrimination during the Second World War. He also considered this bill an excellent way to incorporate and allow people of diverse communities a chance to serve.
Opponents of the bill advocate that this will lead to non U.S. citizens voting in elections. California Congressman Kevin McCarthy passed a resolution today noting that the House will formerly recognize illegal voting as “devaluing” what it means to be a citizen. While this bill was surprisingly struck down, Governor Brown has been seemingly lenient on allowing non-citizens access to drivers’ licenses and even to serve on local school boards in some cities.
Regardless, this bill passed the state Senate with a 26-11 vote, which makes it clear that many members in the legislature favor getting non-citizens involved in local and state-wide politics.