2020 Bills

SB 171: Protecting Personal Privacy

This bill passed the entire legislature unanimously.

Libertas Institute supports this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it is aligned with our principles and merits support.

Several years ago, the Legislature enacted a law that compelled organizations such as ours to disclose our donors if we engaged in a minimal amount of constitutionally protected political speech. Together with the Utah Taxpayers Association, we sued—and the state settled, recognizing that compelling non-profits to disclose donors would be unconstitutional.

The following year, legislators repealed the law that triggered the lawsuit.

As a result, the law is now silent on the issue. Senator Dan McCay is sponsoring Senate Bill 171 to proactively state what the Attorney General’s office already agreed to.

Specifically, the bill prohibits government agencies from requesting, requiring, releasing, or otherwise publicly disclosing any information that identifies a person as a member, supporter, volunteer, or donor of a non-profit organization.

Across the country, some groups have weaponized donor lists to attack those with whom they politically disagree—on both the so-called “left” and “right.” This sensitive information is an extension of a person’s beliefs, and the constitutional right to free association protects a person’s ability to affiliate with — and support, financially or otherwise — a group that shares and advocates for their views. This information should remain private from government’s public records so that there is no chilling effect from its public release and use by dissenting groups.