Political candidates may soon be allowed to conceal their home address from the public on their election filing statements without having to file a police report or order for protection, according to a bill that’s receiving bipartisan support and set to hit the House floor.
Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, DFL-Roseville, said she has colleagues in the legislature this session who receive threats to their personal safety regularly. She also said that in the recent past there have been incidents where “armed crowds of people (were) showing up unannounced at personal homes of some people we serve with.”
Becker-Finn is sponsoring HF789, which would expand already existing law by allowing individuals filing to run for elected office to more easily conceal their home address in public filing records. She presented the bill in the House Elections Committee on Wednesday.
“We live in a post-January 6 world,” Becker-Finn told legislators during a hearing on the bill. “We know what groups of people are capable of and we know that sometimes elected officials are personally targeted” outside their homes.
“It was very unsettling and scary for those families, many of them had children who lived in those homes and there were further threats for those folks to show up at people’s homes, including my own,” Becker-Finn continued.
A bipartisan issue
Last year Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, introduced a bill that would ban protests outside people’s homes. That bill never received a hearing in the DFL-controlled chamber. In July 2020, Alpha News documented political activists gathered outside the home of Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove.
Becker-Finn’s bill this session would amend existing statute that already allows individuals filing for office to conceal their home address from the public if they file a police report or an order for protection. The new language proposed in HF789 would allow those seeking office to only need to “have a reasonable fear” for their safety or that of their family in order to conceal their home address from public records. This means they would no longer need to take the step of filing a police report or an order for protection.
The language also includes a requirement that a “filing officer must, within one business day of receiving the filing, determine whether the address provided in the affidavit of candidacy is within the area represented by the office the candidate is seeking.”
Becker-Finn added that some of her colleagues have been receiving threats to their personal safety more frequently over the last two years.
“Others may not be aware for some of us threats against our personal safety by the public, because of this job that we do, are very common,” Becker-Finn said, “particularly for folks who come from marginalized communities, particularly right now our queer friends and allies and folks we serve with are getting death threats on the daily.”
While the proposed legislation received unanimous support from DFLers and Republicans in the House Elections Committee, Rep. Duane Quam, R-Byron, said threats and intimidation toward candidates for office and elected officials are not new nor limited to one side of the political aisle.
“I want to make clear for the public, this is not one group or one side,” Quam said. “It’s a universal problem that has been around for a bit of time. Maybe it gets bolder some years, but I am going to support this (bill) as we all should.”
The bill is scheduled to go to the House floor later this month. A version in the Senate is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Public Safety Committee.
Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.