BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 555
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          ASSEMBLY THIRD READING
          AB 555 (Salas)
          As Amended April 30, 2013
          Majority vote 

           JUDICIARY           10-0                                        
           
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          |Ayes:|Wieckowski, Wagner,       |     |                          |
          |     |Alejo, Chau, Dickinson,   |     |                          |
          |     |Garcia, Gorell,           |     |                          |
          |     |Maienschein, Muratsuchi,  |     |                          |
          |     |Stone                     |     |                          |
          |-----+--------------------------+-----+--------------------------|
          |     |                          |     |                          |
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           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 (U.S.)  
          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.  

          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 Web site, 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.  

          3)Specifies that the above provisions do not prevent the  








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            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.  
            
          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.  

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

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  None 
           
          COMMENTS  :  Existing law generally prohibits a person or entity  
          from publicly posting, displaying, mailing, or otherwise  
          intentionally communicating an individual's 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."  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  








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          SSN, externally, to a county veterans' service officer or the  
          U.S. 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 U.S. Armed  
          Forces.  In developing these policies, the Department of  
          Corrections and Rehabilitation is authorized to 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. 

          Several veterans' organization, including state chapters of the  
          American Legion, VFW, 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."

           








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          Analysis Prepared by  :    Thomas Clark / JUD. / (916) 319-2334 


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