Sen. Larry Teague, D-Nashville, said Tuesday that a bill he filed would allow the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery to keep information about the winners of Powerball and Mega Millions drawings confidential if they request it.
Senate Bill 306 would create a new exemption under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.
"If a person won a $500 million lottery, I think that would immediately put them at risk, their kids or grandkids for somebody who wants to mess with them, and I think they ought to have the right to choose not to be," he said in an interview.
"If you won $500 million, everybody in the world would be calling you wanting your money. I would worry about kids and grandkids for a while. It's my idea," Teague said.
Lottery officials are reviewing the bill and plan to meet with Teague to discuss specifics, said Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance and Administration, which oversees the lottery.
"As the bill now stands, it allows any winner of a Powerball or Mega Millions prize to remain anonymous, whether the win was $2 or $2 million," Hardin said. "With that scope, it will be tough to pull the totals [on how many people would have been shielded] as there have been millions of those tickets cashed."
Last week, Rep. Jim Sorvillo, R-Little Rock, filed House Bill 1382, which would exempt any records identifying lottery winners from the state's Freedom of Information Act. Under current law, winners can be identified through public records requests. According to the news website Vox, eight states allow winners to conceal their names from the public.
-- Michael R. Wickline