After passing an Assembly committee earlier this week, a bill to shield the home addresses of elected officials and candidates in New Jersey did not come up for a vote in the full Assembly today, even though two related bills redacting addresses from financial disclosure forms were put for a vote (and passed easily).
The bill’s prime sponsor, Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-Voorhees), said after the voting session today that he’s still conferring with county clerks and local governments on their technological capability to do what the bill requires.
“I think the biggest challenge we’ve heard from some folks is the technological ability to be able to block [addresses],” Greenwald said. “There’s got to be a way to do this. I’ve got to think we’re smart enough to figure it out. But that’s part of the process.”
The bill is designed to protect New Jersey politicians from attacks like the July 2020 murder of U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas’ son and the October 2022 assault on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband. After being introduced in May of this year, it cleared a Senate committee in October and passed the Assembly State and Local Government Committee on Monday.
There’s been some muted criticism of the proposal from journalists and transparency advocates, who have said that knowing where politicians live can sometimes be a key tool in keeping them accountable. But Greenwald argued that politicians like himself make themselves available in other ways, and that safety sometimes has to come first.
“I think our public lives are very public, and I think there’s also a level where transparency crosses over into the health and safety of people that want to run for office,” he said. “If we want to continue to recruit talented people, we need to make sure that they feel safe.”
If and when the main bill does come up for a full vote in either chamber, it may face some opposition from Republican legislators; the two financial disclosure form bills that did get voted on today both received around a dozen Republican no votes, even though both were sponsored by Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio (R-Hackettstown).