Raleigh, N.C. — House lawmakers have begun crafting a bill that would allow law enforcement officers, district attorneys and assistant district attorneys to request that their names, addresses and phone numbers be removed from city or county websites that display tax records.
Rep. Chris Malone, R-Wake, said the measure was in response to an incident in which the father or a local assistant district attorney was kidnapped, as well as a churn of complaints about daily threats faced by law enforcement.
"I've had a number of policemen come to me that they've had people they've arrested or had issues with come to their door," Malone said.
Some, he said, have speculated that bad actors have used tax records to find law enforcement and court officials with whom they had issues.
The bill is question is Senate Bill 78, which was originally drafted as a measure to amend state contracting law. The House Rules Committee stripped the contracting language and added in the privacy measure. Doing so puts the measure on a fast track through the General Assembly, where it could, in theory, bypass review by a Senate committee.
Under the bill, the information regarding the law enforcement officials would remain a public record, but it could not be displayed online once they asked for its removal.
Several members of the committee raised questions about the measure. Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, said he was troubled that the bill could give elected officials the right to have their names protected. District attorneys are elected, and the bill would cover them and their assistants.
As the committee discussed the bill, one member raised the question of whether or not its provisions should be expanded to include other officials.
"A lot of decisions we make up here are not received well in our districts," said Rep. Elmer Floyd, D-Cumberland.
However, House Rules Chairman Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, refused to review an amendment that would have expanded the measure's protections. Instead, he said the measure would get further review by a House Judiciary committee.