Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Newspapers should keep tabs on state legislatures for proposed bills moving legal ads to Internet

Community newspapers should keep an eye on their state legislatures and be aware of any proposed or pending bills to move legal ads out of newspapers and onto government websites. The Michigan House passed a bill in December to do just that, and several other states, such as Tennessee, have proposed similar bills.

"City councils, county commissions, school boards and other public bodies are required to provide special notices of special meetings, for example, because those notices must list all items to be discussed," Frank Gibson, public policy director for the Tennessee Press Association writes in an column in The Leader in Covington, Tenn.

"Public notices are required for public hearings on land zoning changes, proposed budgets and taxes, certain ordinances, annexations and when the government plans to use its ultimate police power—the use of eminent domain to take private property," Gibson writes. "Public notices are like the third leg of a stool—with the open records and open meetings laws."

"Proposals have been made in Tennessee and other states to move those disclosure notices solely to government websites," Gibson writes. "That would be tantamount to eliminating public notices as they have historically been. Anyone looking for a public notice would have to know exactly what they are searching for and when and where to look. Instead of going to their local newspaper where they have always gone to see notices, citizens would be left searching for 'a needle in a haystack.' Public notices need to be made available as widely as possible." (Read more)

1 comment:

Howard Owens said...

If newspapers want to protect third party publication they should stop fighting online only publication of notices on news sites.