Utah, West Virginia enact bills barring public agencies from disclosing personal information about 501(c) donors

Last month, Utah and West Virginia enacted legislation restricting public agencies from disclosing identifying information about donors to select nonprofit groups.

Utah SB171

SB171 prohibits a public agency from:

  • Requiring an individual to provide the agency with personal information
  • Requiring a tax-exempt entity under Section 501(c) of the federal Internal Revenue Code to provide the agency with personal information about its donors
  • Releasing or otherwise publicly disclosing any personal information the agency might possess
  • Requiring a current or prospective contractor to provide the agency with a list of 501(c) groups to which the contractor has provided financial or non-financial support

Any person who knowingly violates any provision of this law is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for up to 90 days, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both.

The Utah State Senate voted 26-0 in favor of SB171 on March 2. Three senators did not vote. The Utah House of Representatives approved an amended version of the bill 68-0, with seven members not voting, on March 12. The Senate concurred in the House amendments by a vote of 27-0, with two members not voting, on March 12. Governor Gary Herbert (R) signed SB171 into law on March 30.

West Virginia SB16

SB16 prohibits a public agency from:

  • Requiring a tax-exempt entity under Section 501(c) of the federal Internal Revenue Code to provide the agency with donor or membership information
  • Releasing any information that identifies an individuals’ association with, or financial or non-financial support of, a 501(c) group without the express written consent of the group and the individual, or at the individual’s request

The West Virginia State Senate voted 34-0 in favor of SB16 on Jan. 20. The West Virginia House of Delegates voted 75-22 in favor of the bill on Feb. 13. Three members did not vote. Governor Jim Justice (R) signed the SB16 into law on March 2.

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 47 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Disclosure Digest map April 7, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Disclosure Digest status chart April 7, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Disclosure Digest partisan chart April 7, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken on relevant bills since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • Utah SB0171: This bill would prohibit public agencies from disclosing identifying information about donors to 501(c) groups.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Signed into law March 30.
  • Virginia HB849: This bill would subject political campaign communications made via online platforms to the same disclosure requirements currently applied to print media, television, and radio advertisements.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Signed into law March 31.



About the author

Jerrick Adams

Jerrick Adams is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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