Two bills rated “negative” by the Georgia First Amendment Foundation continue to make their way through the Georgia General Assembly.
Senate Bill 331 would allow lottery winners to remain confidential upon request. The foundation opposes this proposed legislation, which would shield information on individuals receiving significant sums of state money. It would set a dangerous precedent, despite a recent amendment to limit anonymity to winners of over $250,000. We see no way to improve this flawed bill.
Senate Bill 407 would broaden the ability of trial courts to retroactively seal court records of criminal defendants sentenced under the First Offender Act. It’s part of Gov. Nathan Deal’s multi-year legislative package to reform the Georgia criminal justice system. While many of those reforms have been positive, this proposed legislation takes a wrong step toward less transparency. The bill could be improved by aligning it with other criminal reform legislation that gives trial courts discretion to consider the public interest of criminal court records when deciding whether to seal them.
Get more details on these legislative proposals and several others we’re tracking in our updated Legislative Watch.