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Relating to the prohibited release by a public agency of information regrading the members, supporters, or volunteers of or donors to certain nonprofit organizations; creating a criminal offnese.
Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for SB 1678, Committee Report 1st House, Substituted: a NEGATIVE impact of ($1,013,651) through the biennium ending August 31, 2023.
The bill would make no appropriation but could provide the legal basis for an appropriation of funds to implement the provisions of the bill.
SB 1678 is designed to protect the privacy of donors, members, and volunteers of nonprofit organizations.
To that end SB 1678 would prevent a public agency or an officer or employee of a public agency from:
A person who commits such an offense would be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.
These preventions would not apply to donor information included in a report required by state law by a candidate for public office; a warrant for donor information issued by a court; a request for discovery; donor information admitted as relevant information in an action before a court; and any donor information contained in a document or instrument recorded or maintained by the secretary of state.
SB 1678 would allow a person to bring civil actions for alleged violations to obtain: injunctive relief; damages not less than $2,500 but not more than three times that amount; and court costs. SB 1678 would waive the sovereign or governmental immunity for such liability.
It is a well known that governments at various levels within and outside of Texas have attempted, or are currently attempting, to compel nonprofit organizations to disclose their donor lists. The clear purpose of requiring this disclosure is to dry up funding for opposing nonprofits by making donors or potential donors fearful that they will suffer adverse social, economic, or governmental effects based on the disclosure of their voluntary association with a nonprofit. SB 1678 would protect against this type of intimidation which the United States Supreme Court has already determined to be an infringement on the right to free association.
SB 1678 benefits the principles of limited government, private property, individual liberty, and the free market. Texas Action supports SB 1678.