BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 555
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          Date of Hearing:  May 7, 2013

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
                                Bob Wieckowski, Chair
                     AB 555 (Salas) - As Amended:  April 30, 2013
           
          SUBJECT  :  Social Security Numbers: Inmates: Veterans 

           Key ISSUE  :  Should a jail or prison facility be permitted to  
          release an inmate's social security number to a designated  
          official for the purpose of determining the inmate's status as a  
          military veteran and his or her eligibility for benefits, so  
          long as the inmate consents to the release? 

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  As currently in print this bill is keyed  
          non-fiscal. 

                                      SYNOPSIS

          Existing law generally prohibits a person or entity from  
          publicly posting, displaying, mailing, or otherwise  
          intentionally communicating an individual's social security  
          number to the general public.  Other laws require redacting  
          social security numbers, or some portion thereof, from public  
          records.  Existing law also creates a number of reasonable  
          exemptions to this general rule, including those instances in  
          which the collection, use, or release of a social security  
          number is required by state or federal law or is necessary for  
          internal verification or administrative purposes.  This bill,  
          consistent with other exemptions for verification or  
          administrative purposes, would authorize a prison or jail to  
          release an inmate's social security number to a county veterans  
          service officer or the United States Department of Veteran's  
          Affairs, but only (1) with the consent of the inmate and (2) for  
          the purpose of determining the inmate's status as a military  
          veteran and his or her eligibility for veterans' benefits or  
          services.  This bill is sponsored by the California Association  
          of County Veterans Service Officers supported by several  
          veterans' organizations.  There is no known opposition to this  
          bill. 

           SUMMARY  :  Permits an adult correctional facility, an adult city  
          jail, or an adult county jail to release an inmate's social  
          security number, with the inmate's consent and upon request by  
          the county veterans service officer or the United States  








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          Department of Veterans Affairs, for the purpose of determining  
          the inmate's status as a military veteran and his or her  
          eligibility for federal, state, or local veterans' benefits of  
          services.   

           EXISTING LAW  : 

          1)Prohibits a person or entity from publicly posting or publicly  
            displaying a person's social security number (SSN).  Defines  
            "publicly post" or "publicly display" to mean intentionally  
            communicating or otherwise making available to the general  
            public.  (Civil Code Section 1798.85 (a) (1).)

          2)Prohibits a person or entity from doing certain things that  
            might compromise an individual's SSN, including printing a SSN  
            on any card required to access goods or services; requiring a  
            person to transmit a SSN over the Internet without a secure  
            connection or encryption; requiring a person to use his or her  
            SSN to access an Internet website, except as specified; or  
            printing an individual's SSN on any materials that are mailed  
            to the individual, unless the SSN is required to be on the  
            mailed document by state or federal law.  (Civil Code Section  
            1798.85 (a) (2)-(5).)

          3)Specifies that the above provisions do not prevent the  
            collection, use, or release of a SSN as required by state or  
            federal law, or the use of a SSN for internal verification or  
            administrative purpose, and also that the above provisions do  
            not apply to documents that are required to be open to the  
            public pursuant to the Public Records Act.  (Civil Code  
            Section 1798.85 (b)-(c).) 
            
          4)Requires the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to  
            develop guidance policies relative to the release of veterans  
            who are inmates, including policies designed to assist  
            veterans who are inmates in pursuing claims for federal  
            veterans' benefits, or in establishing rights to any other  
            privilege, preference, care, or compensation provided under  
            federal or state law because of honorable service in the  
            military.  In developing the policies, the department may  
            coordinate with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the  
            county veterans' service officer or veterans' service  
            organizations.  (Military and Veterans Code Section 1840.) 

          5)Authorizes the board of supervisors of each county to appoint  








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            a county veterans' service officer to administer any veterans'  
            aid or programs provided by the state, to investigate all  
            claims, applications, or requests for aid made pursuant to  
            state law, and to perform any other veteran related services  
            as requested by the county board of supervisors.  (Military  
            and Veterans Code Section 970.)

           COMMENTS :  Existing law generally prohibits a person or entity  
          from publicly posting, displaying, mailing, or otherwise  
          intentionally communicating an individual's social security  
          number (SSN) to the general public. Other state laws require  
          redacting the SSN, or some portion thereof, from public records.  
           Existing law also creates a number of reasonable exemptions to  
          these general prohibitions, including when the SSN is needed for  
          certain administrative purposes or when the SSN is required to  
          be on a mailed form as a matter of state or federal law.  Of  
          particular relevance to this bill, existing law also permits the  
          use of the SSN "for internal verification or administrative  
          purposes."  (Civil Code Section 1798.85 (b).)  At first blush a  
          broad reading of this language might appear to authorize the  
          release of the SSN for the purpose of verifying an inmate's  
          status as a military veteran; however, this existing language  
          only authorizes the use of the SSN for purposes of "internal"  
          verification and administration.  Thus it does not appear under  
          existing law that a prison or jail could release or disclose a  
          SSN, externally, to a county veterans' service officer or the  
          United States Department of Veterans Affairs.  This bill would  
          expressly authorize a state adult correctional facility, or an  
          adult city or county jail, to release an inmate's SSN, with the  
          inmate's consent, to a county veterans' service officer or the  
          U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the limited purpose of  
          determining an inmate's military veteran status and his or her  
          eligibility for federal, state, or local veterans' benefits or  
          services. 

          Existing state law authorizes each county to appoint a "county  
          veterans' service officer" to administer any state benefits or  
          service programs for veterans, and allocates operational funds  
          to any county that appoints an officer.  In addition, existing  
          law requires the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to  
          develop policies to assist inmates who are veterans in obtaining  
          any government benefits, services, or rights to which they are  
          entitled by virtue of having served honorably in the United  
          States armed forces.  In developing these policies, the  
          Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is authorized to  








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          work cooperatively with the county veterans' service officer and  
          the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  This bill seems fully  
          consistent with those existing law provisions.  It appropriately  
          limits the release of the SSN where the inmate has consented to  
          the release and where a request has been made by either the  
          designated county veterans' services officer or the U.S.  
          Department of Veterans Affairs for the limited purpose of  
          determining the inmate's status as a veteran and his or her  
          eligibility for veterans' benefits or services.  Finally, it  
          should be noted that this bill does not provide inmates or  
          veterans with any new benefits or services; it is simply  
          intended to help identify veterans who are incarcerated so that  
          they may obtain any benefits that their military service has  
          already bestowed upon them. 

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :  Several veterans' organization, including  
          state chapters of the American Legion, VFW, and AMVETS, and the  
          California Association of County Veterans Service Officers,  
          support this bill because it will "make it easier for inmates,  
          that are military veterans, who are incarcerated in California  
          to be identified and to receive the veterans' benefits and  
          services for which they are already entitled."

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          California Association of County Veterans Service Officers  
          (sponsor)
          American Legion - Department of California
          AMVETS - Department of California
          California State Commanders Veterans Council 
          Office of the Sheriff of Kings County 
          VFW- Department of California 
          Vietnam Veterans of America - California State Council 
          Two individuals 

           Opposition 
          
          None on file 
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :   Thomas Clark / JUD. / (916) 319-2334 











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