Ballotpedia’s Donor Privacy and Disclosure Digest is back!

Welcome back! If you have missed Ballotpedia’s coverage of nonprofit donor privacy and disclosure policy, you will be happy to hear we are debuting our first issue of Ballotpedia’s Donor Privacy and Disclosure Digest. This monthly newsletter provides news and information on key policy changes, a breakdown of state legislation, and an overview of pivotal legal decisions and case developments. In this issue, you’ll find:

  • Missouri lawmakers consider changes to donor privacy act: The Missouri House of Representatives debates modifications to the state’s Personal Privacy Protection Act.
  • In the courts: The latest on pivotal judicial decisions and developments across the country.
  • State by state: An analysis of this month’s state legislative activity, including bill status, topic, partisan sponsorship, and more. 
  • What we’re reading: Keep up to date on the stories and analyses we’ve been reading this month.
  • Dig deeper: Want more information on the topics covered in this issue? We’ve got you covered.

Missouri lawmakers consider changes to donor privacy act

On Feb. 27, the Missouri House of Representatives Special Committee on Government Accountability considered two bills that would modify provisions of the state’s Personal Privacy Protection Act. That law prohibited government agencies from disclosing information identifying a person as a member, supporter, or donor to a nonprofit organization. Supporters of the act say it protects donor privacy and encourages charitable giving. Critics say it prevents public access to state contracts, complicates tax credit program administration, and undermines law enforcement investigations. 

Rep. Dan Houx (R) originally introduced HB2400, a bill related to retirement and welfare benefits plans, on Jan. 11, 2022. The state House passed the bill unanimously on April 4, and the state Senate passed an amended version 27-6 on May 6, with 10 Democrats and 17 Republicans voting for the bill. The state House did not consent to the Senate amendments, and the Senate appointed a conference committee on May 10. Rep. Jered Taylor (R) offered an amendment to the bill containing the Personal Privacy Protection Act on May 12. Taylor said the act would “protect an individual’s right or ability to donate to a cause that they believe in.” The amended legislation received bipartisan support in the House, with 28 Democrats and 101 Republicans voting in favor of the bill on May 12. Gov. Mike Parson (R) signed the bill into law on June 30. 

Rep. Sean Pouche (R) introduced one of the bills that would modify the Personal Privacy Protection Act, HB667, on Jan. 5, 2023. Pouche’s bill would exempt certain types of personal information from the non-disclosure requirements. This includes personal information nonprofits submit to obtain “a contract, grant, permit, license, benefit, tax credit, incentive, status, or any other similar item,” and the “disclosure of personal information amongst law enforcement agencies pursuant to an active investigation.” 

Rep. Ben Baker (R) introduced the other bill, HB1064, on Feb. 7. Similar to HB667, Baker’s bill would allow the voluntary disclosure of personal information that nonprofits submit for the purpose of government tax credits and contracts, and it permits disclosure as part of an active law enforcement investigation. However, it would also allow government agencies to disclose information with the written permission of all individuals who might be identified through the release of that information. 

Testifying in Monday’s committee hearing, Hannah Swan of the Missouri Office of Administration said, “There are some differences between what was intended with (the Personal Privacy Protection Act) and what the law actually says,” adding, “Our goal is to create some exemptions to allow the state to conduct business. We’re not trying to collect donor lists, we just want to be able to conduct business.” 

Cass County official Ryan Johnson (R) said the original act should not be modified because it “does not, in any fundamental way, disrupt the status quo.” Jeremy Cady, state director for Americans for Prosperity, said the issue was with the interpretation of the existing act under the current administration, not with its language: “A number of states have passed similar laws. We haven’t seen these issues in other states. So we’re not entirely sure why this has become as much of an issue as it has been.” 

Missouri has a Republican trifecta, meaning Republicans control both legislative chambers and the governor’s office. Republicans have a 24-10 majority in the Missouri Senate and a 111-52 majority in the Missouri House of Representatives. 

In the courts

New court filings in Arizona lawsuit seeking to overturn disclosure proposition

On Feb. 17, defendants in a lawsuit to overturn Arizona Proposition 211, including Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) in her capacity as former secretary of state and the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, filed a motion to dismiss the case in the Maricopa County Superior Court. Proposition 211, which voters approved 72-28% on Nov. 8, 2022, requires that persons or entities that make an independent expenditure of $50,000 or more on a statewide campaign or $25,000 or more on a local campaign must disclose the names of the money’s original sources, defined as the persons or businesses that earned the money being spent. On Dec. 13, 2022, the Center for Arizona Policy, Inc. and the Arizona Free Enterprise Club sued Hobbs over Proposition 211’s constitutionality. The Goldwater Institute’s Scott Freeman, who represents the plaintiffs, said, “The act violates Arizonans’ right to speak freely by chilling donors from supporting causes they believe in and wish to support, lest their charitable giving become public knowledge.” Former Attorney General Terry Goddard (D), who supported the initiative, said, “If you or I have given $50 or more, our first and last names and addresses are reported. That’s not a violation. Why is this one different?”

State by state

Since Feb. 1, state legislatures have acted on 21 bills related to donor privacy and disclosure. These 21 bills represent 53.8% of the 39 bills we are tracking in 2023. In comparison, we tracked 77 bills throughout 2022. Four of these bills are from states with Democratic trifectas, 13 are from states with Republican trifectas, and four are from states with a divided government. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

15 bills were introduced (or had pre-committee action).

  • Democratic trifectas: 4
  • Republican trifectas: 9
  • Divided governments: 2

5 bills passed one chamber (or had pre-adoption action in the second chamber). 

  • Republican trifectas: 3
    • IN HB1212: Privacy of nonprofit donor information.
    • IN SB0303: Privacy protections for nonprofit organizations.
    • ND HB1116: Relating to campaign contribution statements for candidates seeking a school district office.
  • Divided governments: 2
    • VA SB854: Campaign advertisements; independent expenditures, electioneering communications.
    • VA SB1427: Campaign finance; political action committees, certain large pre-election expenditures.

One bill was enacted. 

  • Republican trifectas: 1
    • WY SF0040: Federal political action committees-reports.
      • This bill exempts 501(c)(4) political action committees making contributions or expenditures only to federal candidates or for federal issues from contribution reporting requirements if the candidate or committee is already required to comply with federal election law.

The map below shows the concentration of this recent activity across the nation. A darker shade of green indicates a higher number of relevant bills that have been acted upon in the last week. A lighter shade of green indicates a lower number of bills that have been acted upon in the last week. 

The charts below show our analysis of tracked legislation by legislative status, partisan sponsorship, focus, and state trifecta status. 

What we’re reading

Keep up with the latest events in the world of donor privacy and disclosure policy by exploring the stories linked below. 

Dig deeper

Are you hungry for more information on the topics we covered in this edition? Dig deeper into these topics by checking out the following Ballotpedia pages: