Four states have enacted donor disclosure laws so far in 2021

Four states have enacted donor disclosure laws so far in 2021

As we move into June, legislative session activity is beginning to wind down. As of June 8, 17 state legislatures are still in regular session, two are in special session, and the rest have adjourned. So far this year, four states – Arkansas, Iowa, South Dakota, and Tennessee – have enacted legislation prohibiting public agencies from disclosing identifying information about a nonprofit’s donors. Today, we take a look back at those bills. 

What the bills do

The four enacted bills are Arkansas SB535, Iowa HF309, South Dakota SB103, and Tennessee HB0159. While their details vary, they all prohibit public agencies from:

  • Requiring a tax-exempt nonprofit to provide a public agency with personal information about its donors, members, supporters, or volunteers. 
  • Requiring individuals to provide personal identifying information about their involvement with nonprofits.
  • Publicly disclosing any personal information a public agency might possess. 
  • Requiring a current or prospective contractor to provide a public agency with a list of the nonprofits the contractor has supported.

The bills do not bar public agencies from releasing personal information about a nonprofit’s donors, supporters, etc. pursuant to an active law enforcement investigation or a lawful warrant, subpoena, or other court order.

Enactment dates for these bills are as follows:

Political context   

Arkansas, Iowa, South Dakota, and Tennessee are all Republican trifectas. This means that Republicans control the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

Other noteworthy developments

On April 26, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, a case involving a California law that requires nonprofits to file copies of their IRS 990 forms with the state. This includes Schedule B, which contains the names and addresses of all individuals who donated more than $5,000 to the nonprofit in a given tax year. Although the law does not allow the public access to Schedule B information, court documents show that inadvertent disclosures have occurred. 

In 2014, Americans for Prosperity challenged the law in U.S. district court, triggering a series of legal developments spanning several years. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make its ruling in the case sometime before the end of the month. 

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 38 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. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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

Recent legislative actions

For complete information on all of the bills we are tracking, click here

  • California SB686: This bill would require a limited liability company that qualifies as a committee or a sponsor of a committee under the state’s campaign finance laws to file a statement of members with the secretary of state. The statement of members must include a list of all persons who have a membership interest in the limited liability company of at least 10% or who made a cumulative capital contribution of at least $1,000 to the company after it qualified as a committee or sponsor of a committee, or within the 2 calendar years before it qualified..
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • The Senate passed the bill on June 2. It is now pending in the Assembly.

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