SB 275: Free Speech and Association

This Bill passed the Senate 23-5 and the House 62-7.

Libertas Institute supports this bill.

In 2015, along with the Utah Taxpayers Association, we sued the state seeking to overturn a clearly unconstitutional law requiring disclosure of information about our donors. With the help of the great attorneys at the Center for Competitive Politics, who represented our organizations in this lawsuit, we were able to come to a a settlement with the state of Utah.

House Bill 43, passed by the legislature in 2013, was sponsored in response to a political consultant’s illegal use of non-profit organizations to hide the identity of the source of his donors—from the payday lending industry—to fund a negative campaign against Representative Brad Daw, who had sought to regulate the industry’s practices. The bill passed the Senate 20-8 and passed the House 60-13.

The law compelled private non-profit organizations—such as Libertas Institute—to publicly disclose the personal information of their donors when the organization spends $750 or more on political activity in a single year. This created a substantial chilling effect, harming our potential to raise funds from people who may not wish to be publicly identified with their ideological and financial support, whether for family, business, religious, or personal reasons.

In response to the settlement, Senator Lyle Hillyard has agreed to sponsor Senate Bill 275 to repeal HB 43 in its entirety so that the statute will reflect the agreed settlement. As the floor sponsor for HB 43, we applaud him for his willingness to correct the law.

You can read further about our arguments against HB 43 in an op-ed we co-authored with our co-plaintiff in the Salt Lake Tribune.


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