SACRAMENTO, CALIF. - A bill that would have let communists legally work in California government was withdrawn Wednesday after the sponsor said he learned it caused veterans and Vietnamese-Americans "distress and hurt."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His bill, AB22, would have repealed part of state law enacted during the Red Scare of the 1940s and '50s, when fear that communists were trying to infiltrate the U.S. government was rampant.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 state 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 were "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.