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Smith Introduces Bill to Remove Criminal Penalties from American Community Survey

April 30, 2019
Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) introduced legislation yesterday (H.R. 2392) to make participation in the American Community Survey voluntary, repealing criminal penalties for Americans who choose not to respond to the survey.  
The American Community Survey was created after the 2000 census to replace the long form questionnaire.  The survey is sent to more than 3 million Americans annually, and requests personal information about housing, transportation, health status, employment history, income, and other topics.  Although the Census Bureau has indicated it does not prosecute failure to respond to the survey, failure to respond to the survey continues to carry a fine of up to $5,000.
On introducing his bill, Smith said, “No American should be forced to provide highly personal information to the federal government under penalty of law.  This legislation will maintain the American Community Survey while ensuring law-abiding Americans aren’t threatened because the government selected them as part of a random sample.”
“I annually hear from Nebraskans who are harassed and threatened with legal action if they do not respond.  We need to be far more clear the federal government will not prosecute you for declining to open your life to them for statistical purposes.”