Greetings from Portsmouth, New Hampshire!
I'm here this week to serve up a commendation for what could amount to a meaningful lesson for the future of privacy legislation in the U.S. This shoutout goes to state Sen. James Maroney, D-Conn., for his work to pass Senate Bill 6 out of the Connecticut General Assembly last week. While SB 6 is still awaiting final procedural steps before enactment, Maroney's maneuvering over the last year has been exemplary.
It's no secret that passing comprehensive privacy legislation is only going to get harder for state lawmakers as the number of successful states grow. This difficulty stems from the many stakeholder opinions that will form around "the right" framework and a shrinking ability to compromise on anything less than that perceived standard a given person or organization has. That scenario played out in 2021 when Maroney's privacy efforts stalled at the last minute after passing one chamber and revealed itself again in the lead up to and during SB 6's legislative process.
In conversation with me after the 2021 miss, Maroney had a split view on what it was going to take to get a bill across the finish line in 2022. On the one hand, he said he wasn't going to wait on folks who were asking him to meet them where they were at on provisions and policies instead of meeting halfway. On the other hand, he saw the greater value in building a strong coalition that might bring stragglers along in time or simply be enough to convince fellow lawmakers to vote up.
From my outside perspective, Maroney chose the latter option and it served him well. He ensured the working group that advised on the drafting of SB 6 before and during this session carried representatives from a majority of affected industries. A handful of working group members indicated the inclusiveness was supported by openness and a clear line of communication on Maroney's part.
Maroney's job -— and that of any state lawmaker — is to work for constituents, which people forget includes both everyday citizens and those running the businesses that will be regulated against. It's a delicate line to walk and one that Maroney toed gracefully with the Connecticut restaurant industry, which had layers to its opposition. Maroney's showed diligence with his willingness to negotiate and walk the restaurant folks through how SB 6 will or won't affect their business. It played so well that not only did the restaurant get on board with the bill, but an opposing lawmaker voicing the restaurants' concerns signed on as a sponsor of the bill.
Maroney didn't have to work with companies or across the aisle here. Connecticut is a "blue trifecta," meaning he had the votes to pass whatever he wanted so long as there was full Democratic support. He actively chose to hear out all stakeholders and take a bipartisan path to a law. He went out of his way for the sake of balance.
Maroney's work is a breath of fresh air. Other state privacy efforts, like those in Florida and Washington, have lacked thoughtful compromise. Our countless resets on the federal privacy law clock are evidence of these combatting ideas on "right" or "perfect" among U.S. Congress.
Here's hoping state and federal lawmakers can take a road less traveled to a sensible result like Maroney and Connecticut did.
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