SCV lawmakers respond to passage of ACA5

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Come November, California voters will decide whether to repeal the state’s 24-year-old ban on affirmative action at the ballot box after lawmakers, including all four local elected legislators, approved the proposal. 

The measure, authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, will allow for consideration of race, gender and ethnic diversity as factors in college admissions, public employment and contracting by discarding Proposition 209, which banned such consideration a quarter-century ago. 

Voters passed Prop. 209 in 1996, adding the following provision to the California Constitution: 

“The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”

Opponents of ACA 5 have said it would lead to legalized racism. Those against Prop. 209, such as the University of California Board of Regents, have said it challenges efforts to be equitable and inclusive “as it seeks to attract the best and brightest students from all backgrounds while ensuring equal opportunity for all,” read a statement from the board. 

Senators voted 30-10 in approval, while the Assembly voted 60-14 in support. Here’s what the elected officials representing the Santa Clarita Valley said about their votes: 

“There’s been a lot of discussion regarding race, and in talking to a lot of constituents, it’s important to have this discussion, debate it and have the voters decide for themselves. There are some issues that are so personal that it’s appropriate to have a discussion, and now is the time.” — Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita. 

“I voted for ACA 5 because equity, opportunity and inclusion matter in our places of learning and work. California is one of only eight states that prohibits affirmative action, and now a new generation of voters will get to make a decision to move our state in the right direction.” — Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita. 

“It’s time to reconcile our past and present inequalities with our valley’s commitment to equality and justice. ACA 5 is a critical step in that reconciliation, giving our colleges and public employers the power they’re asking for to ensure our classrooms and offices are as diverse as our community.” — Sen. Henry Stern, D-Calabasas. 

“We believe in an equitable society that acknowledges the beauty and struggle of communities. The events that have unfolded over the past month show we have more work. At 24 years old, Prop. 209 deserves to be examined by a new generation of Californians at the ballot box.” — Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale. 

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