Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed some trepidation Wednesday about a Senate proposal that would create a public-records exemption for the home addresses, telephone numbers and dates of birth of members of the House, Senate and Cabinet, as well as the names, employers and birthdates of lawmakers’ spouses and children.
“You elect someone, you kind of need to know where they live if they’re going to represent your community,” DeSantis said after an appearance Wednesday in Tallahassee.
But DeSantis didn’t express support or opposition to the proposal (SB 832), which was approved Tuesday in a 4-3 vote by the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee and must go before two more committees.
“I’m pretty wary about trying to exempt a lot of things,” DeSantis said.
“As Governor, I know we get certain things that one has to respond to,” DeSantis continued. “But just to do a blanket without there being any type of reason to do it. I just have to look at it.”
The House version of the bill (HB 1191) has not been heard in committees.
Senate bill sponsor Kelli Stargel, a Lakeland Republican, said her intention in trying to shield the personal information is to avoid repeats of incidents such as the 2011 assassination attempt against former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and a 2017 shooting of Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise during a practice for an annual congressional baseball game.
DeSantis, a member of Congress at the time, had left the field shortly before the shooting.
“The animosity, at least the emails and things that I have seen have risen to a higher level than they were even when I first got elected,” Stargel, who was initially elected to the state House in 2008, said Tuesday.
Stargel said the internet has made it easier for people to get public records. Her measure would also shield from public records the names and locations of schools and day-care facilities attended by the children of lawmakers.