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Congressman seeks to spare citizens from penalties related to surveys


Last updated 11/14/2018 at 6:10pm

TEMECULA - Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Temecula, said on Wednesday, Nov. 14 a bill he authored would abolish penalties imposed on people who decline or neglect to answer questions on an annual survey that supplements the decennial census.

"The federal government's priority should not be to penalize private citizens for not participating in a government-mandated survey outside of what is required of the Constitution,'' he said. "My bill will protect the privacy of Americans while ensuring that those chosen to participate in the American Community Survey are not penalized for refusing or neglecting to complete the questionnaire.''

The American Community Survey, or ACS, was implemented by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2005 to broaden the agency's information collection function.

The ACS probes deeper than the 10-year census, which generally consists of 10 questions about a household. The ACS can contain as many as 50 questions, asking respondents to specify their income sources, how they commute to work, what language they speak at home and what type of insurance coverage they carry.

Roughly 3.5 million households nationwide receive the annual surveys, according to Hunter.

"While some citizens have no issues providing this information, many have described the process as intrusive,'' he said. "Despite this feedback, the U.S. Census Bureau has informed recipients of the ACS that the government-mandated survey is not optional and will result in a fine if not completed.''

H.R. No. 7106, the "Authorizing Moderated Enumeration Responses Including Citizenship Acquisition'' -- AMERICA -- Act, would remove the threat of fines associated with the survey. The bill is under consideration in the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, which is in a lame-duck session until adjourning for the holidays. When the new Congress convenes in January,

the House of Representatives will be under Democratic leadership.

The congressman was narrowly re-elected last week to another term in the heavily Republican 50th District, which includes parts of Riverside County and San Diego County, despite being under federal indictment, along with his wife, for alleged misuse of campaign funds.

The U.S. Marine veteran and son of former Rep. Duncan Lee Hunter, has served in Congress since 2009.


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