California voters will not be asked this year to decide whether to roll back California's ban on racial preferences in college admissions, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez announced Monday.
At the request of Sen. Ed Hernandez, author of Senate Constitutional Amendment 5, Pérez said he is sending the measure back to the Senate without taking any action in the lower house.
"It really is driven most by my interest in making sure we come out with the best policy outcomes," Pérez said.
"And as it's currently written I don't think SCA 5 gives us that. As it's currently written it requires a two-thirds vote of both houses, and those votes don't exist in both houses."
Pérez said he and Senate leader Darrell Steinberg will form a task force to discuss whether California should change the way it admits students to public universities.
The group will include representatives from the University of California, California State University and the community colleges, he said.
The move came a week after three Asian-American state senators -- who had previously voted for SCA 5 -- asked Pérez to put a stop the measure.
"Prior to the vote on SCA 5 in the Senate, we heard no opposition to the bill. However, in the past few weeks, we have heard from thousands of people throughout California voicing their concerns about the potential impacts," Sens. Ted Lieu of Torrance, Carol Liu of La Canada Flintridge and Leland Yee of San Francisco wrote to Perez on March 11.
The measure would overturn part of Proposition 209, which voters approved in 1996, by allowing public colleges and universities to use race and ethnicity as a factor in judging students for admission. Democrats in the state Senate used their two-thirds supermajority to pass SCA 5 in January, sending it to the Assembly for consideration. Since then, Asian-American advocacy groups have been organizing opposition around the state, arguing that affirmative action will help some ethnic groups at the expense of others.
"As lifelong advocates for the Asian-American and other communities, we would never support a policy that we believed would negatively impact our children," Lieu, Liu and Yee wrote in their letter to Pérez.
"Given that many in the (Asian Pacific Islander) and other communities throughout the state feel that this legislation would prevent their children from attending the college of their choice, we have asked Senator Ed Hernandez to hold SCA 5 until he has an opportunity to meet with affected communities and attempt to build a consensus."
Here is a video of Pérez discussing how he thinks Proposition 209 has impacted California's public universities:
PHOTO: : Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles points to the desk of Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose before legislators are sworn in during the first day of session at the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 . The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua
Editor's note: This post was updated at 12:39 p.m. to include comments from Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and updated at 1:09 p.m. to include a video.