POLK COUNTY, Fla. (Cap News Services) – Two Polk County lawmakers are arguing a changing social climate makes their homes more vulnerable to those who intend harm.
They are working to take the information out of the public record, but the idea is getting a lukewarm reception from the Governor and public records advocates.
But learning who lives where could get more difficult.
State Senator Kelli Stargel wants to remove lawmaker’s home addresses from public records.
“I’m assessable. They can reach me in my office. We have cell phones, we have Twitter, we have Facebook and all that so someone doesn’t need to meet me at my front door,” said Stargel.
Stargel’s address is already supposed to be secret because she is married to a judge, but she says many already know it.
“I have two people wrote me and say too bad, I already know where you live. And then somebody else wrote me and said, don’t forget, I already know where you live. And because of this context, so, it’s just a different day and the hostility is just worse than it was,” said Stargel.
First Amendment Foundation President Pamela Marsh said those comments prove the change in public records isn’t needed.
“There has to be some way that we have evidence that they actually live in their districts where they are serving their constituents,” said Marsh.
One potential compromise in the works would be to allow lawmakers to opt-in to make their addresses private, creating public scrutiny.
“If you have a young family with young kids and there have been threats made, I’d think I’d want my address withheld,” said Sen. Kathleen Passidomo.
But even if something passes, convincing the Governor could be a tough sell.
“You elect someone you kinda need to know where they live if they are going to represent your community,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
Another hurdle is that passing the legislation would take a two-thirds vote.
Opponents of the change also argue removing the home addresses could lead to a false sense of safety, since most attacks on public figures are a result of them being stalked or attacked at public events.