Update: Gov. Brown has signed into law this data disaggregation bill to ensure the state's Asian and Pacific Islander communities are counted.

Before the CA legislature entered its final recess on August 31, members of both chambers scurried to get their bills passed.

One of the bills that was approved in those final days is AB 1726, which would change the way some state agencies collect demographic data to ensure greater visibility for communities within the state’s Asian and Pacific Islander (API) population.

As the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) explains:

“California is home to the nation’s largest Asian American and second largest Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) populations.

“The Census Bureau, which has identified 23 distinct communities within the Asian American population and 19 within the NHPI population, calculates that each population grew by 34% and 29%, respectively, between 2000 and 2010.

“Despite the diversity of California’s large API population, state agencies only disaggregate demographic data for a few of the major API groups. By failing to measure a large portion of the API population, California is unable to track the progress of the most disadvantaged segments of that population.

“AB 1726 takes a critical and necessary step for the API community by requiring higher education institutions and public health agencies to disaggregate data for additional API groups. We need transparent data systems that reveal, not conceal, our community’s needs and unique strengths, and allow resources to be used in better, more targeted, and more efficient ways to improve lives for ALL APIs in California.”

AB 1726: Support from SEARAC

AB 1726: The Details

As explained in the full bill text, AB 1726 — also known as the Accounting for Health and Education in API Demographics (AHEAD) Act — would “amend Section 8310.7 of the Government Code, relating to data collection.”

The key portion of the bill is found in Section 1:

“(b) In addition to the duties imposed under Section 8310.5, the state agencies described in subdivision (a), in the course of collecting demographic data directly or by contract as to the ancestry or ethnic origin of California residents, shall collect and tabulate data for the following:

“(1) Additional major Asian groups, including, but not limited to, Bangladeshi, Hmong, Indonesian, Malaysian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, and Thai.

“(2) Additional major Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander groups, including, but not limited to, Fijian and Tongan.”

Passage of AB 1726

AB 1726 was passed by the state Senate on August 23, 2016 by a unanimous vote of 39-0. The bill was then approved by the state Assembly on August 29, 2016 by a vote of 75-1.

(Note, as reported by NBC: “One major difference in the bill’s revised language is that AB-1726 now applies to data collected only by the state Department of Public Health — not agencies overseeing public universities or colleges.”)

From there, AB 1726 was sent to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown, who has until the end of September to either sign or veto the bill.

UPDATE: Gov. Brown signed AB 1726 into law on September 25.

The Bill’s Legislative Champions

AB 1726 was introduced by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, who represents the East Bay communities of Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. According to his biography, he is the only Filipino American legislator in the 166-year history of California.

The bill was co-authored by a list of Assemblymembers and Senators that includes San Francisco’s own Phil Ting and David Chiu.

Statewide Supporters

More than 100 California organizations have expressed support for AB 1726, including the following four sponsors of the bill:

Get Involved

As Ting himself indicated last month via Twitter, AB 1726 presents an opportunity for California residents to get involved in the legislative process by ensuring that their voices are heard.

Even though AB 1726 has already been approved by both chambers of the state legislature, it has not yet been signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

If you’d like to help ensure that the bill does indeed become law, join other advocates in signing this petition in order to convey your support for AB 1726 to the Governor.

UPDATE: As noted above, Gov. Brown signed AB 1726 into law on September 25.


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