Of Record 2011

www.pnrc.net

P.O. Box 5337 – Arlington, VA – 22205

info@pnrc.net – (p) 703.237.9806 – (f) 703.237.9808

Highlights for November 2011

NNA Public Notice Survey

 

According to an annual survey of towns represented by community newspapers conducted by the National Newspaper Association and the research division of the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, 80 percent of the public believes governments should be required to publish public notices in newspapers.  In 2010, 75% thought that governments should be required to publish public notices in newspapers.  The trend has run consistently through the half-decade of the NNA study, demonstrating the public expectation of finding the notices in newspapers. The findings also disclosed that 23% read public notices “very often”  in their newspapers.   Studies by state newspaper organizations support the same theme: people want the notices in their newspapers, whether they read them consistently or not. But they do read the notices.

 

Further with local newspapers under assault as the traditional delivery method for public notices, the survey revealed that on average, readers have read their local newspapers for approximately 25.34 years, ranging from less than one year to 65 years in small towns and cities in the United States.  Also, 83% of the readers said that local news or local information was the primary reason for selecting local newspapers; with 73% read either “all” or “most” of the content of local newspapers.

 

 

Publishers’ Auxiliary, Survey Readers prefer community paper for news (12.11)

 

Virginia Press Association’s Push to Save Public Notice

 

The VPA, an advocate for keeping the public informed, commissioned a survey to help show Virginians’ support for keeping public notices in newspapers, where the notices have been displayed for over 200 years.

 

The survey found:

 

  • 97% of the respondents said that the principle of the public’s right to know what their government is doing and planning is either very important (79%) or somewhat important (18%)

 

  • 94% of the respondents said that keeping citizenry informed of public notices/legal advertisements in newspapers is an important function of government agencies

 

  • 63% of respondents said that they would read public notices much less often (36%) or less often (27%) if these were placed only on government websites

 

  • 72% of respondents have NOT visited a government website to read a public notice

 

 

http://www.pnrc.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Keep-the-Light-on-Public-Notices-in-Virginia-Newspapers.pdf

 

State Bills

 

Alabama

 

SB 73

 

This bill would require newspapers accepting legal notices, in addition to publishing the legal notice in print, to publish the legal notice on an Internet website if the newspaper maintains an Internet website.

 

Bill Status:  Pre filed on 11/30/11

 

A hearing on the bill cannot occur until after the beginning of the legislative session, which starts 2/07/12.

 

Florida

 

HB 481

 

Clerks of Court: Provides requirements for storage of electronic filings; requires papers & electronic filings to be electronically time stamped; authorizes clerk to remove sealed or expunged court records from Official Records;

 

Bill Status: 10/25/11 Filed

11/22/11 Now in Government Operations Subcommittee

 

Public Fairs and Exposition

 

SB 502

 

The language below slightly amends the notice of application information that is published in newspapers.   We will continue to follow this bill because the section on newspaper notification is being reviewed and additional amendments could follow.

 

A notice of intention to apply to the circuit court

236  judge for the charter of a fair association must specify,

237  stating the date that time when the application will be made,

238  shall be sent to the department for approval, and then shall be

239  published in a newspaper in the county where the principal

240  office of the association will is to be located once each week

241  for  4 consecutive weeks. The notice must, setting forth briefly

242  summarize the charter and objectives objects of the proposed

243  association to be formed.

 

Bill Status:

10/10/11 Posted

11/2/11  Referred to Agriculture

11/4/11 On Committee agenda—Agriculture

11/14/11 CS by Agriculture; Yeas 6 Nays 0

11/15/11 Pending reference review under Rule 4.7(2) Committee Substitute

11/16/11  Community Affairs

11/22/11 On agenda for Community Affairs

 

Ohio

 

SB 234

 

Requires the officer taking lands and tenements in execution to give public notice of the date, time, and place of the sale of the lands and tenements for at least three weeks before the day of sale either by advertisement in a newspaper published in and of general circulation in the county (existing law) or by advertisement on a web site maintained or made available by the county.

 

Bill Status: Introduced on 10/4/11

 

Wisconsin

 

Mining applications

 

AB 24

 

Current law requires DNR to publish a newspaper notice containing specified
information relating to certain laws that it administers. The types of notices that
DNR must publish include notices of scheduled hearings, of the opportunity to
submit a written comment, and of the opportunity to request a public hearing and
notices that provide certain other information to the public. Instead of publishing these notices in newspapers, this bill allows DNR to post notices on its Internet site.

 

Bill Status:  10/26/11 Public Hearing held

 

State Legislatures That Are Currently In Regular Session

 

District of Columbia

Illinois

Massachusetts

Michigan

New Jersey

New York

Ohio

Pennsylvania

Wisconsin

 

State Legislatures That Are Currently in Special Session

 

Delaware, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin

 

Special sessions are expected to be a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and Congressional districts.

 

Self-Storage Association

 

The Self-Storage Association’s constant battle to alter lien laws will continue into 2012. The Florida legislature has committees reviewing self-storage bills Senate (SB646) and the House (HB715).  Although these two bills in their current form do not alter newspaper notice, it is important to note that amendments can be introduced at any time.

 

SB 646 /HB 715 (Identical bill)

10/24/11 Filed

11/16/11 Referred to Regulated Industries; Judiciary

 

HB 715

 

11/18/11 Filed

11/29/11 Referred to Civil Justice Subcommittee

11/29/11 Referred to Judiciary Committee

 

PNRC Talking Points and a State-by-State Legislative Chart

 

With the growing influence of the Self-Storage Association over state legislatures to abolish public notice in newspapers for public auctions, PNRC has developed educational talking points that outline the importance of keeping public notice in newspapers.  PNRC also developed a legislative chart that displays the actual notice and public notice requirements for each state.    http://www.pnrc.net/subscriber-resources/self-service-storage/

 

 

ARTICLES

 

Public Notice Political Cartoon

 

Lamm, Jay, “Rock Quarry,” The Franklin Times, 21 April 2011 (Louisburg, NC)

 

Other News

Minnesota 

Minnesotan, Augusta Township Special meeting suit goes before judge (12.6.11) (Some citizens in the county objected to the council’s meeting and voting on a particular topic because the public notice was not clear about the purpose of the council meeting)

Missouri

Stltoday.com,Missouri Utility regulators may repeal ethics rule (12.5.11) (The Missouri Public Service Commission is considering repealing a rule it enacted a few years ago that prohibits it from meeting without public notice.  The Commission now believes the rule is impractical)

Florida  

Public Notice and the Preservation of Liberty (12.11)

Tennessee

The Tennessean Last thing public needs is more business done in dark (12.4.11) (Williamson County Commissions are trying to get a resolution asking state legislatures to rewrite Tennessee’s sunshine law to say that members of public bodies can meet in secret with no notice, so long as they don’t have a quorum)

Ohio

Vindy.com,Preserve publics access to inform on sheriff’s sales (12.2.11) (In reference to Ohio S.B. 234)

Maine

The Times Record, Private audience Brown 4 councilors attend closed-door meeting with rail deposit foes (11.30.11)

National

Publishers’ Auxiliary, Survey Readers prefer community paper for news (12.11)

Virginia

Daily Press.com, Judge voids Dendron Council votes on power plant (11.22.11)

National

Key, Steve, Publisher’s Auxiliary, Public notices more likely to be read in ink (12.2011)

Virginia

Virginian-Pilot, Public notices should be public (28 Nov. 11)

Pennsylvania

The Morning Call, Two towns say public be damned (16 Nov 11)  (Township commissioners engineered a deal to change the zoning without proper public notice)

Virginia

Richmond Times-Dispatch, Public wants notices in newspapers (16 Nov 11)

Tennessee

The Tennessean, Trial over public notice on Murfreesboro mosque project is set for April (3 Nov 11)

Ohio

Twinsburg Bulletin.com, Oversight of public notice issues regardless of vote invalid (3 Nov 11)

Virginia

The Daily Progress, Information should be shared in print (7 Nov 11)

Wisconsin

Central Wisconsin Hub, Our view keep public notices in the public’s hands (5 Nov 11)

JS Online, Bill would give DNR ability to manage better (5 Nov 11) (article in opposition to limiting public notice)

Nevada

The Legal Satyricon, Nevada keeps meetings open to the public (4 Nov 11)

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

 

www.pnrc.net

P.O. Box 5337 – Arlington, VA – 22205

info@pnrc.net – (p) 703.237.9806 – (f) 703.237.9808

Highlights for October 2011

Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act

On October 4, 2011, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws approved and recommended for enactment in all the states the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA).   The UELMA is supposed to provide states with an outcomes-based approach to the authentication and preservation of electronic legal material.  That is, the goals of the authentication and preservation program outlined in the UELMA are to enable end-users to verify the trustworthiness of the legal material the user is viewing and to provide a framework for states to preserve legal material in perpetuity in a manner that allows for permanent access.  Whether the proposed law achieves the goals will be subject to debate.

The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State laws developed the Act to assure that all state legal Internet sites–sites used for posting statutes and case law primarily– conform to uniform standards when posting legal material.  The posted legal material must be current and authentic, archived, accessible, posted indefinitely, and have all electronic posted versions of laws available, no matter how many times the versions change. Though the original intent is to set standards for published law materials, the Act provides wide opportunity to broaden the categories of state information on the sites.

The Act assumes states will adhere to the law correctly, and that the standards are adequate. It shifts the burden to disprove information that is questionable on the opposing party. The uniform law moves next to the American Bar Association (ABA) for endorsement. The ABA House of Delegates, formed primarily by state and local bar associations, will take action in February.

After reviewing the UELMA, the PNRC has the following concerns:

•           The Act fails to make uniform the very criteria necessary to make the sites trustworthy. It leaves to each state to decide whether it has achieved sufficient reliability for its materials.

•           The Act is silent on how states can prove the legal material is current

•           The Act is silent on how states can prove the authenticity of the legal material

•           The Act provides no criteria or procedures on archiving legal material

•           The Act does not contain standards for states to make the information accessible

•           The Act does not have guidelines on how states should distinguish between previous versions and current versions of legal material

•           The Act unfairly shifts the burden to users to prove by preponderance of the evidence that the legal material is not authentic, out of date or inaccurate, putting the users often in the position of proving a negative.

The Act provides no established time and date that states must follow to update information, nor does it require them to disclose when updates occurred.

The Act does not provide assurance that print copies will be maintained for baseline comparisons, preserved for historical reasons or made available to the public if digital options are not accessible.

UELMA will begin to reach state legislatures next year, with or without the ABA endorsement. PNRC is working with a committee of stakeholders to air the concerns about the proposal before the ABA.  Materials on the Act will be available shortly on the PNRC Website, and will be discussed at the Newspaper Association Managers Legislative Conference.

FEDERAL WEBSITE FAILURE DRAWS IRE

The federal government’s unsuccessful attempts to keep a job-search website up and running has launched a raft of complaints on social media sites.

Washington Post, New USA Jobs site for federal job seekers continues to frustrate many (28 Oct 11)

State Bills

Florida

Foreclosure

SB 230 /  HB 149  (Identical Bills)

Website Notice of Foreclosure Action; providing that a legal publication, advertisement, or notice of foreclosure action may be placed on a publicly accessible Internet website of a clerk of court in lieu of publication in any other form of media; providing criteria for the publicly accessible internet website; providing for user access to the website; providing for access by clerks of court and chief judges; providing requirements for website provider; providing posting requirements; authorizing the clerk of court to contract with a publicly accessible internet website provider; providing for terms and revenue sharing in the contract; providing for notice of foreclosure action to be posted on a publicly accessible Internet website.

SB 230

Bill Status: 10/10/11 References corrected to Judiciary; banking and Insurance; budget

Now in Judiciary

HB 149

Bill Status:  10/3/11 referred to Civil Justice Subcommittee; Judiciary Committee

HB 481

 Clerks of Court: Provides requirements for storage of electronic filings; requires papers & electronic filings to be electronically time stamped; authorizes clerk to remove sealed or expunged court records from Official Records;

Bill Status: 10/25/11 Filed

 Public Notice by Government Entities

SB 292

Effective Public Notices by Governmental Entities; Authorizing a local government to use its publicly accessible website for legally required advertisements and public notices; providing requirements for advertisements and public notices published on a publicly accessible website; providing that advertisements directed by law or order or decree of court to be made in a county in which no newspaper is published may be made by publication on a publicly accessible website; providing for advertisement on a publicly accessible website of a taxing authority’s intent to adopt a website of a taxing authority’s intent to adopt a millage rate and budget; prescribing procedures for fulfilling public disclosure system requirements with respect to the duty of a municipality to disclose costs for solid waste management.

Bill Status:  10/4/11  Referred to Community Affairs, Judiciary; Budget

 Public Fairs and Exposition

 SB 502

 The language below slightly amends the notice of application information that is published in newspapers.   We will continue to follow this bill because the section on newspaper notification is being reviewed and additional amendments could follow.

616.03 Notice of application; approval and record of

238  charter.—A notice of intention to apply to the circuit court

239  judge for the charter of a fair association must specify,

240  stating the date that time when the application will be made,

241  shall be sent to the department for approval, and then shall be

242  published in a newspaper in the county where the principal

243  office of the association will is to be located once each week

244  for 4 consecutive weeks. The notice must, setting forth briefly

245  summarize the charter and objectives objects of the proposed

246  association to be formed.

Bill Status:   10/10/11 Posted

 Ohio

 Foreclosure

 SB 234

 The language below will provide an option for foreclosure notices to be posted on-line instead of newspapers.

 (2) The officer taking the lands and tenements gives public notice of the date, time, and place of the sale for at least three weeks before the day of sale by advertisement either of the following methods:

(a) Advertisement on a web site maintained or made available by the county;

(b) Advertisement in a newspaper published in and of general circulation in the county. The court ordering the sale may designate in the order of sale the newspaper in which this public notice shall be published, and this

The public notice is subject to division (A) of section 2329.27 of the Revised Code if the officer conducting the sale chooses to publish the notice in a newspaper, or if the court ordering the sale requires the officer to publish the notice in a newspaper. If the court ordering the sale requires the officer to publish the notice in a newspaper, the court may designate in the order of sale the newspaper in which this public notice shall be published.

 Bill Status:   10/11/11 Introduced

 Wisconsin

 Mining applications

 AB 24

Current law requires DNR to publish a newspaper notice containing specified
information relating to certain laws that it administers. The types of notices that
DNR must publish include notices of scheduled hearings, of the opportunity to
submit a written comment, and of the opportunity to request a public hearing and
notices that provide certain other information to the public. Instead of publishing these notices in newspapers, this bill allows DNR to post notices on its Internet site.

 Bill Status:  10/25/11 Introduced

 State Legislatures That Are Currently In Regular Session

District of Columbia

Illinois

Massachusetts

Michigan

New Jersey

New York

Ohio

Pennsylvania

Wisconsin

State Legislatures That Are Currently in Special Session

Connecticut, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, Virginia, and Wisconsin

Special sessions are expected to be a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and Congressional districts.

 Virginia Active Proposals

The Fairfax County School Board supports granting local school boards flexibility in fulfilling mandates for required legal notices for certain public meetings and hearings beyond the current requirement that they be posted by (paid) advertisements in local newspapers.

http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/fairfax/Board.nsf/files/8MEPSH644B1B/$file/FCSB%202012%20Legislative%20Program%20-%20Draft.pdf

Self -Storage Association

The Self-Storage Association (SSA) has launched an “Association Management Division” that will provide assistance, including lobbying work, for any state storage association that requires the national group’s help. It has been publicly critical of state press associations for blocking its efforts to repeal public notice laws. SSA plans to target New Jersey’s self-storage forfeiture law, it says.

Due Process

The articles below are important in explaining the value of print notice as applied to due process.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, Print can provide permanent public record (22 Oct 11)

Legal Affairs, The most divisive section of the newspaper might be the one you never read: the public notices (July/August 2005)

 

Mortgage Settlements /Foreclosures

 

Following discussions between Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, here are the types of settlements that are in the news:

 

FDL, House Democrats Jump on Possible Positive Comments from FHFA on Principal Pay Down Plan (27 Oct 11)

Chicago Tribune, Mortgage probe may open new path for housing relief (28 Oct 11)

Los Angeles Times, California is wooed in mortgage settlement talks, (21 Oct 11)

Other News

 

Florida

Daytona Beach News-Journal, Is there a right to hear but not to be heard at public meetings (26 Oct 11)

Ohio

The Marietta Times, War of Words erupts over open meeting law council (26 Oct 11)

Wisconsin

JS Online, Wide ranging bill pits business against green interests (24 Oct 11)

Texas

StatesmanPflugerville ballot items would change city (22 Oct 11)

Washington

Kitsap Sun, Closed door meetings broke ethics rules Bainbridge board decides (19 Oct 11)

Missouri

LakeNews Online, AG asks for details from county about possible meeting violation (18 Oct 11)

Oklahoma

NewsOk, Oklahoma House committee studies publication of legal notices (18 Oct 11)

New York

Post Star News, Open Government 17 Oct 2011

California

VCStar.com, Stately oak is toppled 14 Oct 2011

National

USA Today, Best Buy Microsoft join FCC in bid to boost broadband (12 Oct 11)

Montana

Missoulian, Newspaper sues Ravalli County commissioners for improper meeting notice (10 Oct 11)

Tennessee

Knoxnews.com, Knox County Commission to talk about public notice rules (10 Oct 11)

DNI.com, Briefly Plaintiffs in mosque case to ask for trial (10 Oct 11)

Times freepress.com, Bo Watson shifts gears on public notice (6 Oct 11)

Rhode Island

Projo.com, Bristol County Water Authority cleared of open meetings violations (5 Oct 11)

California

Asbury Park Press, Red Bank planners postpone hearing on proposed hotel (4 Oct 11)

New Jersey

Shore News Today, Van Drew says no notice came regarding Parkway fencing (4 Oct 11)

Rhode Island

The East Bay, Ag Bristol County Water Authority Violated State Laws (3 Oct 11)

Louisiana

Nola.com, Jefferson Parish School Board cant shut out the public (2 Oct 11)

California

Appeal democrat.com, Off Beat The library is where it is at (1 Oct 11)

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

 

www.pnrc.net

P.O. Box 5337 – Arlington, VA – 22205

info@pnrc.net – (p) 703.237.9806 – (f) 703.237.9808

Of Record Highlights –September, 2011

PEW RESEARCH CENTER INTERACTIVE

How People Learn About Their Local Community

The Pew Research Center Interactive found that communities tend to receive most of their community information by newspapers

FORECLOSURE FRAUD SETTLEMENTS

A national conversation remains underway on how the states and the federal government will settle legal claims with mortgage bankers accused of unfair mortgage practices prior to the 2008 financial meltdown. Banks may claim that foreclosure processes should be shortend to permit faster shedding of toxic properties from bank balance sheets. Consumer groups and newspapers should be on the lookout for any settlements that shorten foreclosure periods or weaken public notice. One important purpose of public notice is to provide a period of due process for borrowers to amass the funds to reclaim their homes.

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/220035/20110926/mortgage-settlement-mortgage-deal-mortgage-obama-foreclosures-obama-foreclosure-attorney-general-mor.htm

http://carsonnow.org/reader-content/09/27/2011/nevada-ag-announce-agreement-morgan-stanley-over-mortgage-practices

 

FEDERAL

On Tuesday, August 30, PNRC joined in a conference call with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) regarding DHHS’s proposed regulation that would allow states to post Medicaid rate increases on state government internet sites.   During that call, the DHHS revealed that no studies were conducted as to the number of people that visit state government sites or the number of Medicaid recipients that possess a computer and have an Internet service provider.  Further, it was also revealed that the DHHS does not have guidelines on which state government Internet site should be used to post Medicaid rate increases.  DHHS acknowledged receipt of PNRC’s earlier filed comments, and suggested a final rule would be likely by the end of the year.

STATE LEGISLATION

California

SB 948 (Amended 6/30/2011) 

Existing property tax law requires the tax collector to publish various notices to a newspaper or three public places, relating to, among other things, notice of impending default for failure to pay taxes on real property and notice of intended sale of tax-defaulted property by the tax collector. This bill would authorize, upon resolution of a board of supervisors in a county or a city and county, those various notices to be published by the tax collector to be posted on the tax collector’s regularly maintained Internet site, as provided.

9/12/11 Enrolled and presented to the Governor

Florida (Pre-filed Bills: FL Legislature Not In Session)

SB 230

Website Notice of Foreclosure Action; providing that a legal publication, advertisement, or notice of foreclosure action may be placed on a publicly accessible Internet website of a clerk of court in lieu of publication in any other form of media; providing criteria for the publicly accessible internet website; providing for user access to the website; providing for access by clerks of court and chief judges; providing requirements for website provider; providing posting requirements; authorizing the clerk of court to contract with a publicly accessible internet website provider; providing for terms and revenue sharing in the contract; providing for notice of foreclosure action to be posted on a publicly accessible Internet website.

9/14/11 Filed

9/21/11 Referred to Banking and Insurance; Judiciary; Budget

SB 292

Effective Public Notices by Governmental Entities; Authorizing a local government to use its publicly accessible website for legally required advertisements and public notices; providing requirements for advertisements and public notices published on a publicly accessible website; providing that advertisements directed by law or order or decree of court to be made in a county in which no newspaper is published may be made by publication on a publicly accessible website; providing for advertisement on a publicly accessible website of a taxing authority’s intent to adopt a website of a taxing authority’s intent to adopt a millage rate and budget; prescribing procedures for fulfilling public disclosure system requirements with respect to the duty of a municipality to disclose costs for solid waste management.

9/20/11 Filed

 

State Legislatures That Are Currently In Regular Session

 

District of Columbia

Illinois

Massachusetts

Michigan

New Jersey

New York

Ohio

Pennsylvania

Wisconsin

 

State Legislatures That Are Currently in Special Session

 

Connecticut, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, Virginia, and Wisconsin

 

Special sessions are expected to be a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and Congressional districts.

 

Other News

 

St. Petersburg Times, Pinellas County kept public meeting agendas, (11 Sept 11)

Philly Burbs, Galloway No on HB 633 PA needs transparent government (11 Sept 11)

Providence Business News, ACLU claims DPS violated advance public notice rules (6 Sept 2011)

The Morning Call, Judge rules Jaindl zoning changes invalid (1 Sept. 2011)

The Charleston Gazette, 5 day public meeting might go online (1 Sept. 2011)

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

www.pnrc.net

P.O. Box 5337 – Arlington, VA – 22205

info@pnrc.net – (p) 703.237.9806 – (f) 703.237.9808

Of Record Highlights –August, 2011

Self Service Storage News

 

 

The Self-Storage Industry is continuing its push to remove newspaper public notice from the due process for storage clients who default on their payments or abandon property.  The industry has taken note that newspaper opposition has stalled other parts of the industry wish-list, and is beginning to discuss next steps. One analyst recommends sitting down with newspapers to find a compromise.

 

ISS Inside Self-Storage, Self-Storage Politics: Steps Forward, Steps Back, July 2011

 

ISS Inside Self-Storage, California Self-Storage Lien Law Regresses to Suit Newspaper Publishers, July 2011

 

ISS Inside Self-Storage, Self-Storage Auction Advertising: Legislative Changes and Opposition from Newspaper Industry, (6.25.11)

CBS Denver, Storage Unit Auctions Usually A Last Option for Owners, (7.19.11)

STATE LEGISLATION

California

SB 948 (Amended 6/30/2011)

 

Existing property tax law requires the tax collector to publish various notices to a newspaper or 3 public places, relating to, among other things, notice of impending default for failure to pay taxes on real property and notice of intended sale of tax-defaulted property by the tax collector.  This bill would authorize, upon resolution of a board of supervisors in a county or a city and county, those various notices to be published by the tax collector to be posted on the tax collector’s regularly maintained Internet site, as provided.

7/7/11 Passed Com. and re-refer to Com. On APPR with recommendation to consent to calendar

Hearing was held on 8/17/2011

State Legislatures That Are Currently In Regular Session

California

District of Columbia

Illinois

Massachusetts

Michigan

New Jersey

New York

Ohio

Pennsylvania

Wisconsin

State Legislatures That Are Currently in Special Session

Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Virginia, and Wisconsin

Special sessions are expected to be a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and Congressional districts.

 

 

Other News

Northwest Herald, Local government lobbyists fighting transparency on public’s dime (8.23.11)

News-Press, AG’s office probes County Club Village, (8.16.11)

E2 Wire, Judge tosses drilling policy expanding environmental review, (8.13.11)  Judge Nancy Freudenthal ruled that the Interior Department and US Forest Service policies that scaled-back the exemptions were issued without proper public notice and comment.

St. Helena Star, Editorial: Council should follow law (8.11.11)

UPI., U.S. foreclosures in 10-month retreat, (8.11.11)

Slate, Print v. Online The ways in which old-fashioned newspapers still trump online newspapers, (8.9.11)

Atlanta Progressive News, City Attorneys Saw Meeting Violations, Memos Show, (8.9.11)

Rapid City Journal, Open Meeting Commission Reprimands Township, (8.6.11)

Cumming Home, Forsyth County Cancels 2nd Public Meeting Due to Failed Notice, (8.4.11)

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

 

www.pnrc.net

P.O. Box 5337 – Arlington, VA – 22205

info@pnrc.net – (p) 703.237.9806 – (f) 703.237.9808

Highlights for the end of July

STATE LEGISLATION

California

SB 948 (Amended 6/30/2011)

Existing property tax law requires the tax collector to publish various notices to a newspaper or 3 public places, relating to, among other things, notice of impending default for failure to pay taxes on real property and notice of intended sale of tax-defaulted property by the tax collector.  This bill would authorize, upon resolution of a board of supervisors in a county or a city and county, those various notices to be published by the tax collector to be posted on the tax collector’s regularly maintained Internet site, as provided.  

7/7/11 Passed Com. and re-refer to Com. On APPR with recommendation to consent to calendar

Hearing date 8/17/2011

State Legislatures That Are Currently In Regular Session

Massachusetts

Michigan

New Jersey

Ohio

Pennsylvania

State Legislatures That Are Currently in Special Session

As of this week, California, Virginia, Wisconsin, and North Carolina are in special sessions.   California is convened in ongoing special session, but still considered to be in regular session.

Special sessions are expected to be a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and Congressional districts.

State Court

Minnesota

Last month, Olmsted County District Judge Jodi Williamson issued a court ruling in response for a motion for temporary injunction that found a foreclosure notice in a newspaper to be invalid because the newspaper did not serve the county where the property is located.

Editorial

Montgomery Media, Public notices valuable, but expensive for municipalities, school districts, (7.23.11)

AlaPress, Treating Public Notice with Prominence it Deserves, (7.11)

Washington Post, Old Dominion U professor is trying to save Internet history, (7.17.11)

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

www.pnrc.net

P.O. Box 5337 – Arlington, VA – 22205

info@pnrc.net – (p) 703.237.9806 – (f) 703.237.9808

Highlights for the end of June and beginning of July  

FEDERAL

Department of Justice

Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 89/ May 9, 2011 Proposed Rule

The Department of Justice proposes to revise, consolidate, and update its seizure and forfeiture regulations, to conform those regulations to the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act.

We are concerned by the proposed § 8.9 Notice of administration forfeiture because the DOJ, FBI, and ATF will have the option to publish notice of seized property in either a newspaper generally circulated in the judicial district where the property was seized ORposted on an official government Internet web site.   We do not believe an official government Internet site will be an effective tool to deliver notice to property owners.

We have submitted a letter in opposition with the support of the American Court and Commercial Newspapers, the National Newspaper Association, and the Newspaper Association of America.

Department of Health and Human Services

Federal Register Vol. 76, No. 881/ May 6, 2011 Proposed Rule

The Department of Health and Human Services proposes to revise the Medicaid Program, covering electronic publications for payment policy changes.  Currently, payment policy changes are published in newspapers or other printed materials allowed under the regulations.  There is proposed language to allow electronic methods of publication

We have submitted a letter in opposition with the support of the American Court and Commercial Newspapers, the National Newspaper Association, and the Newspaper Association of America.

We hope you will capture some of our data for your educational outreach on newspaper published notices.

STATE LEGISLATION

California

SB 948 (Amended 6/30/2011)

Existing property tax law requires the tax collector to publish various notices to a newspaper or 3 public places, relating to, among other things, notice of impending default for failure to pay taxes on real property and notice of intended sale of tax-defaulted property by the tax collector.  This bill would authorize, upon resolution of a board of supervisors in a county or a city and county, those various notices to be published by the tax collector to be posted on the tax collector’s regularly maintained Internet site, as provided.

7/7/11 Passed Com. and re-refer to Com. On APPR with recommendation to consent to calendar

Louisiana

SB 242 (Current Version)

Was amended (Senate Committee Amendment #1615 THPW, Adopted) to increase transparency of parish and state contracts and change orders, has passed Committee and is now pending Senate final passage.

Senator Joe McPherson suggested amending the legislation when it is on the Senate floor to require the public bodies to publish public notice in newspapers.  However, the current amended bill still does not contain Senator McPherson’s suggested amendments.

6/29/2011 Signed by Governor Now Act 343

State Legislatures That Are Currently In Regular Session

Massachusetts

Michigan

New Jersey

Ohio

Pennsylvania

State Legislatures That Are Currently in Special Session

As of this week, California, Virginia, and Wisconsin continue their special sessions.  North Carolina scheduled a limited special redistricting session July 13-21.

Special sessions are expected to be a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and Congressional districts.

Editorial

Foreclosure notice ruled invalid, PostBulletin.com, 14 July 2011

Government agencies trying to hide notices, again, The Murfreesboro Post, 10 July 2011

UKRD wants public notice law changed, Radio Today Industry News, 28 June 2011

Internet body throws open domain names, Reuters, 20 June 2011

Building a Culture of Efficiency Across the Federal Government, White House blog, 14 June 2011

This month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began implementing an initiative from the 2010 President’s SAVE Award, submitted by Paul Behe, a Cleveland-based DHS employee from Customs and Border Protection. The initiative changes current DHS practices by posting notices of seized property online instead of in print newspapers – avoiding approximately $1 million annually in advertising costs.

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

www.pnrc.net

P.O. Box 5337 – Arlington, VA – 22205

info@pnrc.net – (p) 703.237.9806 – (f) 703.237.9808

Highlights for the second week of June

FEDERAL

Department of Justice

Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 89/ May 9, 2011 Proposed Rule

The Department of Justice proposes to revise, consolidate, and update its seizure and forfeiture regulations, to conform those regulations to the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act.   The comment deadline ends July 8, 2011.

We are concerned by the proposed § 8.9 Notice of administration forfeiture because the DOJ, FBI, and ATF will have the option to publish notice of seized property in either a newspaper generally circulated in the judicial district where the property was seized ORposted on an official government Internet web site.   We do not believe an official worldwide government Internet site will be an effective tool to deliver notice to property seized in counties.

Department of Health and Human Services

Federal Register Vol. 76, No. 881/ May 6, 2011 Proposed Rule

The Department of Health and Human Services proposes to revise the Medicaid Program, covering electronic publications for payment policy changes.  Currently, payment policy changes are published in newspapers or in other printed materials allowed under the regulations.  There is proposed language to allow electronic methods of publications.    The comment deadline is July 5, 2011.

People that are on Medicaid are usually individuals that are currently encountering economic hardships.  We are concerned that any posted rate changes on Internet sites–which require a computer, Internet access, and a person familiar with operating a computer and guiding over Internet sites—will leave many people without access in order to receive notice of rate changes.

 Federal Communication Commission

The FCC has released their report on “The Information Needs of Communities” and both NNA and PNRC are cited in the report. (pg. 335)  The report does mention that people without Internet access will be disenfranchised from Internet sites’ notification distribution.

STATE LEGISLATION

California

 SB 948 (Introduced)

SB 948  (Amended 6/7/2011)

Existing property tax law requires the tax collector to publish various notices to a newspaper or 3 public places, relating to, among other things, notice of impending default for failure to pay taxes on real property and notice of intended sale of tax-defaulted property by the tax collector.  This bill would authorize, upon resolution of a board of supervisors in a county or a city and county, those various notices to be published by the tax collector to be posted on the tax collector’s regulatry maintained Internet web site, as provided.

Louisiana

SB 242, (Original Version)

SB 242 (Current Version)

Was amended (Senate Committee Amendment #1615 THPW, Adopted) to increase transparency of parish and state contracts and change orders, has passed Committee and is now pending Senate final passage.

Senator Joe McPherson suggested amending the legislation when it is on the Senate floor to require the public bodies to publish public notice in newspapers.  However, the current amended bill still does not contain Senator McPherson’s suggested amendments.

6/14/2011 Reported favorably (25-0) Referred to the Legislative Bureau.

Maine

LD 940   (Original Version)

C “A” (H-445)  (Current Version)

LD 940 was amended C “A” (H-445) and passed the House on 6/1/2011 and the Senate on 6/2/2011.  The amendment replaces the bill.  It requires the Secretary of State to publish adopted rule notices only on the publicly accessible website maintained by the Secretary of State. The bill removes all proposed and adopted rules from publication in the newspaper beginning July 1, 2012. The amendment also requires the General Fund savings from reducing newspaper publication to be allocated to the Secretary of State to be used for improving the website and requires the Secretary of State to submit a progress report to the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government by January 15, 2012. The amendment also adds an appropriations and allocations section.

SP 442

6/8/2011 Passed Senate and House

This bill completely removes storage unit owners’ responsibility from publishing notice of tenants’ delinquent payments in local newspapers prior to auctioning their belongings.   Please see language below.

2. Notice.   As soon as the occupant is in default and before conducting a sale under subsection 1, the operator shall:

A. Send a notice of default by regular mail and by certified mailverified mail and by either first-class mail or electronic mail to the occupant at the occupant’s last known address or other address set forth by the occupant in the rental agreement whichthat includes:

(1) A statement that the contents of the occupant’s leased space are subject to the operator’s lien. The sale must take place at least 15 days after the provision of notice under subsection 2;

(2) A statement of the operator’s claim, indicating the charges due on the date of the notice, the amount of any additional chargeswhich shallthat become due before the date of sale and the date those additional charges shall become due;

(3) A demand for payment of the charges due within a specified time, not less than 14 days after the date of the notice;

(4) A statement that unless the claim is paid within the time stated, the contents of the occupant’s space will be sold, specifying the time and place; and

(5) The name, street address and telephone number of the operator, or the operator’s designated agent, whom the occupant may contact to respond to the notice; and.

B.   Publish an advertisement of the sale once a week for 2 consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the city or town where the sale is to be held. The advertisement must include a general description of the property as set forth in the rental agreement, the name of the person on whose account it is being held and the time and place of the sale. The sale must take place at least 15 days after the first publication.

 Nevada

 SB 150

Approved  by the governor on 6/13/2011

This bill revises certain provisions governing liens of owners of facilities for storage.  Please note, this bill does not alter Nevada’s current requirements

that storage owners publish delinquent tenant’s information in newspapers prior to auction.

SB 82

Approved by the governor on 6/13/2011

Adds language that requires advertisements for bids to be published on the Chief Purchasing website (in addition to the current standard of newspaper publication)

 Ohio

HB 153

Passed House on 5/5/11 and Senate 6/8/11

Eliminates the specific requirements that the Governor publish the genera Assembly appointment for four consecutive weeks in newspapers in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus, but retains the general requirement that the Governor publish the appointment.

Judicial

WISCONSIN –The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard arguments on June 6 on whether to accept the case about whether the law dealing with public employees’ collective bargaining rights should take effect because the legislative branch did not comply with public notice law after passage.  In a split decision 4-3, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the law should take effect.

Wall Street Journal, Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Antiunion Law, 15 June 2011

Editorial

Bloomberg Business, “Facebook Used by Courts to Find Those Who Are ‘Only Online,’” 7 June 2011

Los Angeles Times, Federal government to delete half its websites, 15 June 2011

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved

www.pnrc.net

P.O. Box 5337 – Arlington, VA – 22205

info@pnrc.net – (p) 703.237.9806 – (f) 703.237.9808

Highlights for the first week of June

HOT TOPICS

State Legislation on Published Notification       

Maine LD 940  was completely amended C “A” (H-445) and passed the House on 6/1/2011 and the Senate on 6/2/2011. It requires the Secretary of State to publish adopted rule notices only on the publicly accessible website maintained by the Secretary of State.

New York A.B. 8078 allows Westchester County to publish notices on their web site instead of newspapers.

North Carolina HB 472 allows all cities and counties to post public notices on their web site instead of newspapers

Storage Unit Owners’ Notification to Tenants of Overdue Payments

We continue to monitor state legislators’ attempt to reduce the responsibilities of storage unit owners in notifying tenants–through newspaper publications–of their late monthly or yearly payments.  We believe through proper published newspaper notification that tenants are more likely to learn of their late payment status and the notification will provide tenants with an opportunity to cure any overdue payments.

STATE LEGISLATION

California

 SB 948 (Introduced)

SB 948 (Amended)

Existing property tax law requires the tax collector to publish various notices in a newspaper or 3 public places, relating to, among other things, notice of impending default for failure to pay taxes on real property and notice of intended sale of tax defaulted property by the tax collector.  This bill would authorize, upon resolution of board supervisors in a county or a city and county, those various notices to be published by the tax collector to be posted on the tax collector’s regularly maintained Internet Web site, as provided.

On May 23, the bill passed the Senate. The bill is currently in the assembly and on June 3rd, the bill was re-referred to Coms. on L. Gov. and Rev. & Tax.

Florida (Adjourned)

 Session Wrap-up Information

Florida House and Senate companion bills to move all government notices to government websites (HB 89 and SB 914) and other bills to eliminate requirements for notice of self-service storage auctions and certain elections, as well as to eliminate altogether judicial foreclosure proceedings of commercial properties were all defeated, with great effort and at considerable expense, during the recently concluded session of the Florida Legislature.

By far the most dangerous legislation proposed was buried deep in the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Conforming Bill in the chaos of the closing hours of session. Foreclosure lawyer Jim Albertelli’s lobbyist – a former secretary of state and former member of the legislature — tried to insert unfavorable language to newspaper notification. It would have moved all foreclosure sales notices out of the state’s newspapers and onto the Internet, with criteria that essentially prescribed the website of an Albertelli spinoff, PREO.com.  Luckily, ACCN’s fast thinking lobbyist caught line 13 of SB 2116: “Foreclosure notices on Internet.” An all-out, coordinated, full-press scramble over the next 48 hours (over the weekend, no less) by half a dozen lobbyists and publishers coordinated by ACCN President Chris Mobley and the Florida Press Association, an affiliate member of the PNRC, managed to get the language deleted. Too close! Albertelli Law operates in several states, as does PREO.com

Illinois

SB 1394 (Introduced)

SB 1394 (Enrolled)

Originally, the introduced bill provided that after the notice period run for providing a tenant notice of their delinquent payments, the advertisement of the sale for their stored property may be made on a designated website, OR in a locally recognized publication OR newspaper of general circulation.   However, Senate Amendment No. 3  amended the original version to include “the advertisement of the sale SHALL be published in a newspaper of general circulation (instead of on a designated website of in a publication of general circulation.)

On May 31st, the bill passed both houses.

Louisiana

SB 242, (Original Version)

SB 242 (Current Version)

Was amended (Senate Committee Amendment #1615 THPW, Adopted) to increase transparency of parish and state contracts and change orders, has passed Committee and is now pending Senate final passage.

Senator Joe McPherson suggested amending the legislation when it is on the Senate floor to require the public bodies to publish public notice in newspapers.  However, the current amended bill still does not contain Senator McPherson’s suggested amendments.

The Times Picayune reports that bill sponsor, Sen. Conrad Appel said he will consider amending his bill to require the public notice advertisement.

Procedures for Changing Public Contracts Would Change Under Louisiana Senate Bill

Maine

LD 392

This bill removes municipal notices from newspapers, in favor of direct mail or electronic delivery.  The bill has passed the House, but is now DEAD in the Senate.

LD 940   (Original Version)

C “A” (H-445)  (Current Version)

LD 940 was amended C “A” (H-445) and passed the House on 6/1/2011 and the Senate on 6/2/2011.  The amendment replaces the bill.  It requires the Secretary of State to publish adopted rule notices only on the publicly accessible website maintained by the Secretary of State. The bill removes all proposed and adopted rules from publication in the newspaper beginning July 1, 2012. The amendment also requires the General Fund savings from reducing newspaper publication to be allocated to the Secretary of State to be used for improving the website and requires the Secretary of State to submit a progress report to the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government by January 15, 2012. The amendment also adds an appropriations and allocations section.

Nevada

 SB 65 (As Introduced)

SB 65 (As Enrolled)

SB 65 passed both the Senate on April 14, 2011 and passed the Assembly on May 30, 2011.

Existing law requires the clerk and council of each city incorporated under

general law or charter to publish in a newspaper a quarterly statement of the city’s

finances that shows the receipts and disbursements and the details of each bill that

the city has paid. (NRS 268.030) Section 2 of this bill requires the publication of

only the total amounts of the city’s receipts, disbursements and bills paid for the

quarter but expressly provides that the receipts, bills and other documents which

support each transaction that is included in the published totals are public records

which are available for inspection and copying. Section 2 also requires publication

of the financial statement on the Internet website of the city, if the city maintains an

Internet website.

 New York

A.B. 8078

On May 31st, Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow introduced A.B. 8078, an act to amend the county law, in relation to publication of legal notices on the official Westchester County website instead of newspapers.   According to Assembly Pretlow, the justification for the bill is to save hundreds of thousands of dollars by using an electronic circulation that can reach more people, instead of a print circulation.   If this bill prevails, it becomes effective immediately.

North Carolina

HB 472

Representatives Chuck McGrady, Paul Stam, Bill Owens, and Darren Jackson, introduced this bill which allows all cities and counties to post public notices on their web site instead of newspapers

As of 5/24/11, the bill has been Re-ref to the House Committee on Rules.

Noteworthy Newspaper Publications on HB 472

Daily Advance.com, Legal notice legislation again rears its ugly head, 31 May 2011

Gaston Gazette, House Bill 472 is not a vendetta, 7 June 2001

HB 307

The bill provides counties with the authority to adopt ordinances providing that legal notice of public hearings may be published through electronic means in lieu of publication in any newspaper.

As of 5/26/11 the bill was Re-ref on Commerce and Job Development Subcommittee on Science and Technology

Ohio

 HB 95 (Enrolled)

Utilities commission notice of hearing for an increase in rates, the notice for such hearings must be published for two consecutive weeks.  This bill, however, mandates the first publication shall be made in its entirety in a newspaper, but the second publication may be abbreviated and be delivered on the newspaper’s and commission’s web site.

Passed House 5/11/2011

Passed Senate 5/25/11

Sent to Governor 5/31/11

Tennessee

HB 1920/SB 1299

The Tennessee legislature attempted to reduce the number of published notifications from three to one HB 1920/SB 1299 before foreclosure proceedings begin.  Then the Senate passed an amendment  changing the number of published notifications from three to two. Ultimately, however, an amendment   was passed restoring the original number of published notifications to three.

The bill was signed by both the Senate President and Speaker on May 25, 2011.

Next, the Governor may sign the bill; veto it; or allow it to become law without his signature. The Governor is allowed ten days (Sundays excepted) after a bill is presented to him to approve or veto the bill; if he takes no action within that period, the bill becomes a law without his signature.

TN. Stat. § 35-5-101 will continue to require notification be published three (3) different times.

Texas (Legislature is currently in special session)

We continue to anticipate future bills–in future sessions–that will attempt to authorize publication of public notices on government web sites, instead of newspapers.

Although HB 400, is dead, that proposal included a provision allowing districts to shift public notices from newspapers to their own school websites.  Districts currently must publish newspaper notices about certain meetings and financial performance.  The bill would have allowed a district to self-publish some notices, while other notices would be absent from publications.

Please note that Rep. Anchia of Dallas, in presenting another bill, said “… for people without Internet connections at home, school, or work, public libraries are the primary point of online access, and for 67 percent of Texans, they provide the only free means of online access in their communities.”  Anchia also said Texas is ranked 48th in funding of public libraries.

We believe these statements help demonstrate that Texas has inadequate resources for people—that are without access to the internet–to receive notification by web site postings.

We will continue to monitor the Texas legislature and inform you of any new bills.

Judicial

WISCONSIN – The battle in Wisconsin over legislation to limit public employees’ collective bargaining rights continues, with implications for public notice.  Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi issued a decision May 26 voiding the law simply because the legislation was passed in violation of state open-meetings requirements of published public notice.

The following day, the State Justice Department asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to immediately vacate Sumi’s decision.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard arguments on June 6 on whether to accept the case.

The case is State of Wisconsin Ex Rel. Ozanne v. Fitzgerald, 11cv1244, Dane County, Wisconsin, Circuit Court.

Editorials

Donald W. Reynolds Journalism institute, Small papers lead in charging for online content

Joel Campbell, Utah battles public notice legislation

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved

 www.pnrc.net

P.O. Box 5337 – Arlington, VA – 22205

info@pnrc.net – (p) 703.237.9806 – (f) 703.237.9808

Highlights for the Week of May 30, 2011…

Prominent Notices

Tennessee law will still require three notices be published in a newspaper before a foreclosure proceeding can begin, despite legislative efforts to reduce the number of notices.  The House and Senate both passed an amendment eliminating the change in the law and subsequently the bill passed both chambers with only two dissenting votes in the House.

Lobbyists for the Tennessee Bankers Association, proponents of the bill, argued that the notices often don’t produce qualified buyers.  Opponents of the legislation, including the Tennessee Press Association, some foreclosure attorneys and consumer advocates maintained that public notice is important to protect public confidence in the process.

The original proposal (HB 1920/SB 1299) would have reduced the number of notices required down to merely one notice.  Anamendment was later introduced to bring the number back to two notices.

The legislation does alter the notice slightly by reducing the amount of information that is required to be published.

The Memphis Daily News reports that the main House proponent of the bill, state Rep. Jimmy Matlock, has hinted he will bring up the issue again next year.

Foreclosure Notice Bill Sees Little Change

Judicial

WISCONSIN – The battle in Wisconsin over legislation to limit public employees’ collective bargaining rights continues, with implications for public notice.  Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi issued a decision May 26 voiding the law simply because the legislation was passed in violation of state open-meetings requirements of published public notice.

The following day, the State Justice Department asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to immediately vacate Sumi’s decision.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear arguments to consider accepting the case on June 6.

The case is State of Wisconsin Ex Rel. Ozanne v. Fitzgerald, 11cv1244, Dane County, Wisconsin, Circuit Court.

Wisconsin DOJ Asks Court to Lift Ban on Union Law

State Legislation

LOUISIANA – SB 242, legislation to increase transparency of parish and state contracts and change orders, has passed Committee and is now headed for consideration by the full Senate.

To better inform the public, Senator Joe McPherson has suggested amending the legislation when it is on the Senate floor to require the public bodies to publish public notice in newspapers.

The Times Picayune reports that bill sponsor, Sen. Conrad Appel said he will consider amending his bill to require the public notice advertisement.

Procedures for Changing Public Contracts Would Change Under Louisiana Senate Bill

MAINE – Three bills have been introduced this legislature affecting public notice.  LD 1445, which would have removed all state notices from newspapers by July 1, 2012 and place them on a state-operated website, is now dead.

Along with that bill, two others have been proposed: LD 392 would remove municipal notices from newspapers, in favor of direct mail or electronic delivery has passed the House, but is now tabled in the Senate; and LD 940 would eliminate notices of adopted rules from newspapers has not yet seen action in Committee.

Maine Newspapers Fight LePage’s Proposed Public Notice Change

Public Notices Should Remain in Newspapers

MISSOURI – An amendment to House Bill 142, would have allowed some cities and the Missouri Municipal League to post construction bid notices on web sites, rather than publishing them in local newspapers, was pulled last week.

The issue of Internet notices is expected to return next legislative session.

PENNSYLVANIA – A hearing was held on May 19 on House Bill 633, which would lift the requirement on local governments and school boards to advertise legal notices in newspapers.  Newspaper publishers testified about how moving public notices online denies many people access to important public information.  Additionally, AARP testified that this is “an idea whose time may not have come.”

 “And, while insisting that online is where people get their information, state Association of Township Supervisors spokesman Elam Herr “confessed” he reads a newspaper every day and isn’t on Facebook.”

Keeping Notices in Print is Important for Public Right to Know

TEXAS – HB 400, legislation dealing with public school management, has hit a major procedural road block missing a midnight deadline on Thursday for preliminary approval before being declared done for the Session.

The proposal included a provision allowing districts to shift public notices from newspapers to their own school websites.  Districts currently must publish newspaper notices about certain meetings and financial performance.  The bill would have allowed a district to self-publish some notices, while others would not need to be published anywhere.

Although this bill is dead, it is possible the proposal could be attached as an amendment to another piece of moving legislation.

Editorials

At least a dozen editorials have been written about public notice legislation in Pennsylvania in just the last week!  Pennsylvania Newspaper Association has created a website: http://www.savepublicnotices.org/  to capture the editorials as well as provide information about why public notices belong in newspapers.

This Pennsylvania editorial written by a concerned citizen is brief, but provides a great real-life example of a school district that thought publishing bid notices on a state website would save money.  However, the school district realized that not much money was saved and at the end of the day returned to publishing the notices in the printed newspaper.

Paperless Public Notice Plan Premature

The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

Highlights for the Week of May 9, 2011…

 

Prominent Notices

Tennessee House Bill 1920, a proposal to reduce the number of public notices required in a newspaper for a foreclosure from three down to two notices, has passed the House by a vote of 62-30.  The Senate companion bill, SB 1299, has passed the Judiciary Committee and could come up for a vote before the full Senate at any time.

The original bill would have reduced the number of notices from three down to only one.

State Legislation

MINNESOTA – The House Government Operations Committee voted this week to remove language from HF 705 that would have authorized municipalities to switch their legal notices to government Web sites.

NORTH CAROLINA – The proposal to allow local governments to post notices on their own website HB 472 was defeated by a vote of 21-10 in the House Government Committee.

OHIO – House Bill 95, which in its first draft would have removed all public notice requirements for utility rate filings and related public hearings, has now been amended to require two print notices.  The House has passed the legislation and it has been sent to the Senate.

Additionally, the budget proposal includes language on public notices.  The legislation permits governments to post notices online, when a website is available.  It further authorizes the creation of a state-wide website for public notices.  The proposal does include a “grandfather clause” for legal journals.  The House budget proposal has been sent to the Senate.

TENNESSEE – Governor Bill Halsam has signed into law a bill (HB 1265/SB 1293) on self-storage facilities that reduces the publication requirement from two weeks down to only one.

Articles

Public notices on Facebook and Twitter?  Yes says Clay Johnson, a blogger who writes about “information obesity, information diets, and civic accountability.”

In his post, Johnson argues that public notices do not belong in newspapers or even on government websites because nobody knows about or goes to these sites.

“Putting the public notice online is the digital equivalent of printing the public notice and taping it to the front door of the federal agency. If nobody’s walking by, nobody’s going to see it. The spirit of the APA [Administrative Procedure Act] is such that public notices ought to notify the public. This worked with newspapers because newspapers had circulations. It doesn’t work with federal websites because more often than not, they don’t. The right answer is to move the public notice and the public inquiry online, but it’s not to put it in a virtual basement.”

Instead, he argues that social networking has empowered the media to communicate directly with people and would be a better platform for public notices in this technological age.

Rebooting Public Notices

Editorials

This Pennsylvania editorial urges citizens to get involved in protecting public notices in newspapers and dispels the argument that government websites are free.

“Many local governments don’t have the resources to maintain 24/7, secure, searchable archived websites. In fact, many smaller jurisdictions have found they need lots of money and professional staff or consultants to keep their websites current — and instead let them go. The cost to local governments to create, maintain and update websites will run into the millions.”

Say ‘No’ to Legislators’ Attempt to Comandeer the Public-Notice Process

The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

Highlights for the Week of May 2, 2011…

 

State Legislation

MAINE – Three bills have been introduced by Rep. Teresa Hayes on public notices.  One bill would only require publishing of notices in newspapers when new rules were proposed and set for public hearing, eliminating the second publication when a rule is adopted.  Another proposal would allow municipalities to publish notices in free newspapers or in an electronic distribution if more than 50 percent of all households subscribe to receive the notice.  The final bill would require a study of public notices with the thought that the number of notices can be reduced.  Similar bills have been introduced in recent years.

Bill Would Cut Legal Ads From Newspapers

Judicial

UPDATES – Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear arguments on June 6 to determine whether Judge Sumi’s order to stop the state law, which limits collective bargaining by public union employees on the grounds of inadequate public notice, was just.

State Political News: June 6 A Big Day for the Collective Bargaining Dispute

Articles

A great example of a newspaper highlighting not only the public notices published in its newspaper, but also why these legal notices are so important to the public.  In this case, the notices concern financial summaries of various insurance companies licensed to do business in South Dakota.

Public Notices highlight insurance companies’ Financial Condition

A city council budget vote was postponed because the public notice published in The Virginian-Pilot’s community news section omitted information about a 3-cent increase on the real estate tax rate.  City Clerk Debra White acknowledged the error by the City and a new ad was issued.

Portsmouth postpones budget vote to May 10

Editorials

Susan Lynn, a former Tennessee legislator, wrote an editorial against House Bill 1920, a proposal introduced on behalf of the Tennessee Bankers Association to reduce the number of public notices required in a newspaper for a foreclosure from three down to only one notice.  Tennessee is one of only five states that do not require a court to review or approve a foreclosure sale.

The bill has already cleared the House Judiciary Committee, with only two dissenting votes.  A companion bill in the Senate, SB 1299, has been placed on the Committee calendar.

Banks try to hasten foreclosures in state (The Tennessean)

The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

Highlights for the Week of April 25, 2011…

 

State Legislation

CONNECTICUT – Legislation to allow municipalities to move their public notices online was killed in Committee last week.  This year’s campaign to save public notices was relatively quiet, in stark contrast to last year’s high profile public advertisements in newspapers statewide.  The low-key strategy was based on meetings with Governor Dannel P. Molloy earlier this year where he told newspaper publishers and editors he was against the bill.

Newspapers Win Battle on Legal Notices; Bill Rejected for Third Year on Allowing Towns to Post Notices on Internet

PENNSYLVANIA – HB 633, a proposal to move public notices online, was pulled from Committee consideration this week due in part to active participation, including calls, visits and editorials, by newspapers across the state.

Articles

The dangers of digital archiving – who can ensure that the gatekeeper of the data will continue to preserve the information?

Google recently announced that its business interests were shifting and, as a result, would be deleting the content of its video archives.  However, after a public outcry Google reconsidered and is now exploring other options.

“Google acted admirably by listening to users and working to save the videos but entrusting such vast cultural archives to a body that has no explicit responsibilities to protection, archiving and public cultural welfare is inherently dangerous: as the situation made clear, private sector bodies have the ability to destroy archives at a whim” wrote Simon Barron, a librarian for the British Army with special interests in digital libraries, ebooks, and the future of the Internet, in a recent article in the United Kingdom’s Guardian newspaper.

Google Can’t Be Trusted With Our Books

The Newspaper Archive Summit was recently held at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute in Columbia, Missouri where scholars, journalists, newspaper publishers, librarians, digital archivists and digital newspaper vendors gathered to discuss the issue of digital archiving.

The event included a dialogue about the danger of losing vast troves of information published in newspapers.  Protecting this public information is crucial to democracy and due process, “because no-one can really say what’s of value until someone goes looking for it” argued Emily Lambert, a business reporter for Forbes.

Finding Money in Newspaper Archives

A public notice published in the Abilene Reporter-News may be the only insight into a criminal investigation of the Internal Revenue Service’s intent to seize nearly $500,000 in funds from three Abilene, Texas bank accounts.

Nearly $500k in Abilene Bank Accounts to Be Seized as Part of Criminal Investigation

Editorials

PENNSYLVANIA

Citizens Lose if Legal Ads Run Only on Government Websites

TENNESSEE

Access to Open Records Under Fire by Legislation

Public Notice Bills Threaten Democracy

The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

Highlights for the Week of April 18, 2011…

 

State Legislation

ARIZONA – The legislature adjourned rejecting all efforts to eliminate or alter public notice requirements.  SB 1399 eliminating all newspaper publication requirements of corporations and partnerships failed on an up/down vote in the Senate.  Similarly, SB 1605eliminating newspaper publication notice requirements for RFP’s also failed.  Finally, SB 1226, which in its original form would have amended newspaper publication requirements for the notice of the availability of the tax roll, was the subject of a strike-everything amendment which changed the nature of the bill completely, thus abandoning the proposed changes to publication requirements.

NEVADA – AB 342, which would have given state and local governments the option of placing public notices on the web or in newspapers, has been killed in committee.  A few bills concerning public notices are still alive in the Nevada legislature, but this was by far the most damaging for newspapers.

The bill was defeated in part because of testimony by the Nevada Press Association (“NPA”).  They argued that notices should be published both in the newspaper and on the web, because their purpose is to disseminate important information to as many Nevada residents as possible.  Emphasizing the key elements of access and accountability, they reminded the legislature that NPA already has a statewide site, www.publicnoticeads.com/NV, and that allowing governments to publish notices on their own sites makes them accountable to no one but themselves.

PENNSYLVANIA – Recently introduced legislation, SB 803, would relax the legal requirement for public school districts to advertise public notices in newspapers and permit the school district to decide where to publish the notice.  Publication would be permissible on:  the school district’s website, in a newspaper in the school district, in a general circulation newspaper, in a legal newspaper, on a newspaper website OR in a community newspaper of mass dissemination.

School notice: Curbing the right to know, in the guise of thrift (The Post-Gazette)

Additionally, HB 633 a proposal to allow for electronic publication of legal notices has been introduced.  This is similar to bills that have been introduced in previous years.

TENNESSEE – Legislation has been introduced in both Chambers on behalf of the Tennessee Bankers Association, according to The Tennessean, to reduce the number of public notices required in a newspaper for a foreclosure from three down to only one notice.  Tennessee is one of only five states that do not require a court to review or approve a foreclosure sale.

The bill has already cleared a House subcommittee.

State Bills Would Reduce Foreclosure Notices (Memphis Daily News)

Banks Want to Reduce Public Notice for Foreclosures (The Tennessean)

Articles

A new study from Microsoft, “Living with the Internet: What’s Driving Web Behavior?” concludes that some web users find the Internet too addictive.  Likening the Internet to heroin or the video game “Angry Birds,” the article sheds new light on the public’s use of the Internet.

Microsoft Claims Fear Drives Net Use

Federal government websites, such as Data.gov and USASpending.gov will be significantly hampered, and there is a high likelihood they will be made inoperable, due to a lack of funding.  The budget resolution passed last week reduced the electronic government fund to $8 million, down from a proposed $35 million.

The Death of Open Data

At risk are many government websites that purport to provide transparency and information to many, but some argue are rarely ever accessed.

The blogger of Flowing Data, a visualization and statistics site, recently gave his opinion to The Guardian about the effects of Data.gov on the flow of information.

“As for Data.gov, the sense that I get is that people like to know that it exists— the idea that politicians have to be held accountable for their actions— but few people actually use the service.”

Data.gov in crisis: the open data movement is bigger than just one site

Editorials

NORTH CAROLINA – Lots of attention is being brought to public notice legislation, as evidenced by the large number of editorials recently published.  A sampling can be found below.

Electronic Notices Won’t Keep Everyone Informed (Charlotte Observer)

Citizens Need Easy Access to Public Notices (Gaston Gazette)

Make Government Less Transparent (The Pilot)

PENNSYLVANIA – An editorial on SB 803 citing specific statistics on the significant number of people who still do not have access to the Internet and pledging to fight for transparency.

EDITORIAL: Still looking for light in darkness (The Times Herald)

TEXAS – Legislation (HB 400) to permit school districts to post notices on their internal website instead of in the newspaper could come to the House floor this week.  This editorial highlights why public notices in newspapers are important to transparency of government

School Districts Notices Belong in Newspapers (Houston Chronicle)

The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

Highlights for the Week of April 11, 2011…

State Legislation

Although it is still relatively early in the legislative year, many attempts to remove public notice from newspapers have already been thwarted.  And one state has even put legal notices back in the newspaper after losing them a few years ago.

Below, are the public notice bills that have already been defeated or tabled for the session in 2011:

STATE

BILL NO.

STATUS

CATEGORY

TYPE OF NOTICE

ARKANSAS

HB 1931

killed

government notices

Notice from newspaper to website

ARKANSAS

HB 2024

killed in Committee

government notices

Notice from newspaper to website

COLORADO

HB 1098

killed in Committee

legal notices

Notice from newspaper to website

COLORADO

SB 97

killed in Committee

legal notices

Notice from newspaper to website

FLORIDA

HB 89

killed

government notices

Notice from newspaper to website

FLORIDA

HB 7204

killed

government notices

Notice from newspaper to website

ILLINOIS

HB 1869

killed

government notices

Notice from newspaper to website

NEW MEXICO

SB 147

killed

notices (broadcasters)

Notice on website

NEW YORK

killed

Constitutional amendments

Notice on website

OKLAHOMA

SB 359

defeated

government notices

Notice from newspaper to website

UTAH

SB 85

PASSED

legal notices

Notice back in newspaper

Articles

Although a shutdown of the federal government was avoided, federal government websites were still affected this week.  The United States Postal Service encountered several outages on its website due to a malware problem creating headaches for their public relations department.

USPS Web Site Infected by Exploit (April 7, 2011)

Editorials

ALABAMA – To A Corner of the Web

This author argues why a proposal introduced to move public notices from the newspaper to a government website is not the best option at this time.

“There may come a time when every Alabamian has continuous high-speed access to the World Wide Web, and can reach whatever information they want quickly and easily. That day isn’t here, yet.”

“Removing legal advertisements from their traditional vehicles won’t improve notification of the public, it will squirrel the information away in a manner that will make its accessibility difficult for almost half the state’s population.”

FLORIDA – Lawmakers Proposal to Allow Internet-Only Legal, Meeting Notices Brings Objections POLL

In reference to a bill that would allow a local government to use its publicly accessible website for legally required advertisements and public notices, Dominic Calabro, President and CEO of Florida Tax Watch said:

“Government notices on government-run websites take away the neutrality and independence of a newspaper or other third party. The temptation would be too high for governments to miss notification deadlines, leave out critical information, or make changes electronically to items on their websites without public knowledge,” he said in a statement. “The minimal cost … is a small price to pay to protect our country’s freedoms that our men and women in uniform fight to support and defend.”

NORTH CAROLINA – Taking Government Notices Out of Newspapers Dangerous

In the context of pending legislation to remove public notices from newspapers and put on a government website, this author stated the importance of a newspaper in the public notice debate.

“How ironic that, had it not been for a story published in this newspaper, most residents would not have been aware the county had even requested the change in state law.”

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The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

Highlights for the Week of April 4, 2011…

 

State Legislation

FLORIDA – Two bills, SB 89 & HB 7204, to permit governmental entities the ability to publish notice of their actions on a government-run website rather than in a newspaper have both been withdrawn. NAACP, the AARP, the Florida Association of Black-Owned Newspapers, Diario Las Americas and the Florida Press Association (FPA) worked in collaboration to defeat the legislation.

NEW MEXICO – The office of the Attorney General provided to the New Mexico legislature a thoughtful argument that public notice is essential to due process.

A proposal sponsored by public radio, SB 147, was introduced to permit the posting of public notices on a website that was exclusively managed by the broadcasters association.  Similar legislation was introduced last year that would have permitted the reading of 1,000 word public notice ads on water transfer rights over the radio.

The AG’s office testified against the bill as to its many flaws both statutory and constitutional.

There may be due process concerns when legal notice publication is allowed on a computer website because a large majority of New Mexico’s population does not have access to computers, thereby depriving citizens of important information regarding public notices of government action. Further, there are legitimate concerns about manipulation and authentication of such data.

The bill ended stuck in Committee, effectively killing the legislation in this session.  However, there is a high likelihood that similar proposals will be introduced across the country, the next in Rhode Island.

Updated FIR on SB 147

NEW YORK – Grassroots action was effective in removing a provision in the proposed state budget to repeal newspaper notice of proposed Constitutional amendments.

Judicial

WISCONSIN – In less than a week, Judge Sumi has issued a revised temporary restraining order declaring the legislation changing collective bargaining powers for public employees was not published by posting on an Internet website.  Therefore, the law will not take effect.

Amended Order Granting Motion for Temporary Restraining Order

Articles

“Reports of the demise of newspapers may be greatly exaggerated,” begins this article from the National Journal.  According to a recent study from Harvard, the under-thirty demographic prefer to obtain their political information from newspapers above Facebook, political blogs, mobile alerts and tweets.

Millennials Still Prefer Newspapers for Political News

As the threat of a government shutdown looms ever closer, preparations are being made to shut down many government websites.  The White House’s Office of Management and Budget has issued a memo detailing the IT and technology related protocols that must be followed.  With only a narrow list of exceptions for essential services, most sites will either be made non-functional or taken down completely and replaced with a standard notice stating they will not be operational during the shutdown.

Federal Websites May Go Dark In Shutdown

The average lifespan of a web page is forty-four days, a statistic often used in discussions of digital preservation.  Ironically though, the source of the statistic is no longer available on the web.  This loss or removal of content at a particular Uniform Resource Locator (URL) over time has a name, “link rot”.

The Chesapeake Project, a collaboration started by three law library members of the Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA), has done an extensive analysis of link rot finding problems in a myriad of places such as scholarly articles, judicial decisions and on government websites.

Rumsey also found federal government web citations and non-government web citations to be equally vulnerable to link rot, despite the perception that resources published to government domains are more stable than those published to web sites hosted by commercial entities, organizations, or educational institutions…However, more recent studies, published in 2007 and 2008, have shown resources published at .gov URLs to have a greater frequency of link rot than those from other top-level domains.

Breaking Down Link Rot:  The Chesapeake Project Legal Information Archive’s Examination of URL Stability

Editorials

FLORIDA – Included in this editorial on legislation to permit local governments to post notices online (see legislation above), are statistics of support.

The Florida Press Association notes that a Nielsen poll conducted this year found that a majority of Floridians, 64.4 percent, would read public notices less often if they were moved to government-run websites…

The proposed laws would hit older folks particularly hard because nearly 54 percent of Floridians older than 65 do not have access to the Internet. In addition, more than a quarter of African-Americans and more than a third of Hispanics in Florida do not have access to the Internet.

Don’t Hide Government Acts:  Bill Would Remove Public Notice from Newspapers

MICHIGAN – A bill to permit local governments the ability to post legal notices on their website instead of in a local newspaper has been reintroduced.  This author explains why every newspaper in Michigan is fighting the bill and the real costs of moving notices online.

A single legal challenge faced by a township over the question of whether or not proper notice was given would cost far in excess of any money saved by publishing its own legal notices online. And the cost of developing and maintaining a site to post legal notices might be just as much as a township would spend to print legal notices in newspapers.

Tyler Bill is Old News, But Still Bad

NEW ZEALAND – A proposal to move environmental notices from newspapers to a local government website has met opposition.  At a recent meeting, one of the officials of the local government board expressed his opposition to the change that “flies in the face of” clearly established history and is inadequate since many do not have access to broadband services.

“You don’t kill one medium to go with another. You stay on all of them. You don’t make an abrupt change like this.”

Cr Duncan Butcher said he read the newspaper public notices every Saturday and always took notice of the Erma advertisements but had never gone on to the Erma website.

“We are still newspaper advertisement orientated.”

Notification Change Opposed

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The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

Government websites are costly.  One federal government website, USASpending.gov, alone will cost $4 million merely to keep it operational through the end of the year.

The President’s budget requests $35 million for e-government funding in 2011.  However, current projections show funding will be substantially diminished as the House proposal has only allocated $2 million while the Senate is willing to grant the Administration $20 million.  As a result, the federal government plans to shut down at least seven government websites in the coming months.

For a full analysis, please see the story below from Federal News Radio…

http://www.federalnewsradio.com/?nid=35&sid=2327798

Highlights for the Week of March 29, 2011…

Judicial

WISCONSIN – A Wisconsin judge has once again set aside a law that strips most public workers of their union collective bargaining rights because of a question over the sufficiency of public notice.

The argument centers on whether the law posted online served as sufficient notice or if the legally required publication of notice in the newspaper must occur in order for the bill to become law.

The state argues that because the Legislative Reference Bureau published it online last Friday, the law took effect on Saturday.  However, the law requires the Secretary of State to publish public notice in the state’s official newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journalin Madison.  Under judicial order, the Secretary of State was not permitted to publish in the newspaper.

Wisconsin Judge Halts Implementation of Bargaining Law (March 29, 2011)

State Legislation

NORTH CAROLINA – A proposal, HB 472, would allow all cities and counties to publish notices online rather than in a newspaper.  Similar proposals that are specific to several counties in the state have also been reintroduced this year.  See, HB 307.

ILLINOIS – Legislation (HB 1869) to move public notices from newspapers to local government websites has stalled in the House and is not likely to advance in this Session.

Public Notices Not Yet Online-Ready

Articles

The average lifespan of a web page is forty-four days, a statistic often used in discussions of digital preservation.  Ironically though, the source of the statistic is no longer available on the web.  This loss or removal of content at a particular Uniform Resource Locator (URL) over time has a name, “link rot”.

The Chesapeake Project, a collaboration started by three law library members of the Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA), has done an extensive analysis of link rot finding problems in a myriad of places such as scholarly articles, judicial decisions and on government websites.

Rumsey also found federal government web citations and non-government web citations to be equally vulnerable to link rot, despite the perception that resources published to government domains are more stable than those published to web sites hosted by commercial entities, organizations, or educational institutions…However, more recent studies, published in 2007 and 2008, have shown resources published at .gov URLs to have a greater frequency of link rot than those from other top-level domains.

Breaking Down Link Rot:  The Chesapeake Project Legal Information Archive’s Examination of URL Stability

The City Council in Hermosa Beach, California unanimously agreed to revise its policy to now publish notice of public hearings in theEasy Reader 10 days prior to the meeting date to ensure that residents are better informed.

City Revises Public Notices Process, Fire Protection Fee

Editorials

Public Notices Belong in Newspapers (Minnesota)

Public Should Notice A Bad Bill (North Carolina)

Publication is Essential to Democracy (Tennessee)

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The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

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info@pnrc.net – (p) 703.237.9806 – (f) 703.237.9808


Highlights for the Week of March 21, 2011…

 

State Legislation

UTAH – Legislation to keep public notices in newspapers has passed both Houses and is expected to be signed into law.  SB 85 was introduced to amend the statute that defines legal notice publication requirements.  This statute was previously amended in 2009 with language that would have moved all public notices out of newspapers and onto the web by January 2012.

The sponsor of the legislation explained that he introduced SB 85 because he and other legislators assumed in 2009 more citizens in Utah would have Internet access than do at present.

NEVADA – Broad reaching legislation has been introduced, AB 342, which would permit state and local governments to post public notices on government websites instead of in a general circulation newspaper.

ARKANSAS – A proposal to move county notices from newspapers to their own government websites, HB 2024, passed the House last week.  However, it appears the legislation will not likely advance in the Senate.

Editorials

Public Notices Should Remain in Newspapers (Minnesota)

Where are Milam’s Legislators? (Texas)

Citizens Deserve Not Only Fair Hearings, But Notice of Them Too (Washington)

Lack of Public Notice is Troubling (Wisconsin)

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The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

www.pnrc.net

P.O. Box 5337 – Arlington, VA – 22205

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Highlights for the Week of March 13, 2011…

 

State Legislation

OREGON – Two bills affecting public notices are quickly making their way through the legislature.  The first, HB 3184 is scheduled for a hearing this week.  The proposal permits the option of publishing notices:  1) in a newspaper, 2) broadcast by radio or television station or 3) posted on a website maintained by a statewide association of stations or broadcasters.  A similar bill in Oregon was defeated over seven years ago.

The other proposal, SB 52, would permit notices of sales of real property to be made by:  newspaper, web posting, email, printed publication or listing with a real estate licensee. This legislation recently swept through the Senate by a vote of 30 to 0.  It is expected to come before the House in the next few weeks.

FLORIDA – A proposal similar to the one recently defeated in Texas has now been introduced, HB 459, eliminating the requirement of newspaper notice for self-storage facilities.  Legislation has also been introduced in both the House and the Senate to authorize local governments to post notices on a government website, HB 89 & SB 914.

Demographics

A new report out by the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that, “36% of adults report paying for some form of local news, the vast majority paying for local print newspaper subscriptions.”

How mobile devices are changing community information environments, details that technology is changing at such a rapid rate, it is likely too early to determine precisely what platform (for example: mobile apps) people will use to access their news.

Editorials

Public Notices Belong in Print (Illinois)

Keep Sun Shining on Our Government (Michigan)

Leave Legal Notices to the Newspapers (New York)

Right to Know Under Attack (Tennessee)

Don’t Weaken Public Notice Rules (Texas)

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The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

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P.O. Box 5337 – Arlington, VA – 22205

info@pnrc.net – (p) 703.237.9806 – (f) 703.237.9808 


State Legislation

ILLINOIS – Several major players have joined forces with newspapers in Illinois in opposition of a public notice bill which would remove public notices from newspapers and place them on local government websites instead.  See…

NAACP Joins IPA and AARP in Opposing Public Notice Bill (3.1.2011)

MICHIGAN – Legislation to define newspapers passed unanimously out of Committee.  The hearing in consideration of the legislation was widely attended by government groups, who took a neutral position on the proposal, as well as newspapers.

NEW JERSEY – The leaders of both houses have each stated they will not move the sweeping “Gov’t Websites in Lieu of Newspapers” bill to the floor of either house for the remainder of the two-year session which expires 12/31/11.  The bill passed a Senate committee last July and an Assembly committee last month.  The main reasons cited are the unanswered questions and concerns raised about the “real cost & economic impact to taxpayers” should local governments opt to take over the business of legal public notification and the loss of private industry jobs.

TEXAS – The Sponsor of legislation to eliminate newspaper notice for self-storage facilities has decided to remove this language from the bill ensuring the current requirement of two newspaper notices will remain.

Editorials

On notice:  Moving Legals to Government Sites Not in Public Interest (Oklahoma)

Public Notices Need to Stay in Newspapers (Minnesota)

Notice Bills Not Good For Public (Tennessee)

Keep Legal Ads In Newspapers At Least for Now (New Jersey)

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The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

© Copyright 2011 Public Notice Resource Center. All rights reserved.

 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011                                                        Volume 11, Issue III

 

The legislative session is well under way with forty-seven states’ legislatures currently in session. Certainly a busy season for everyone!

Highlights in this edition:

•  the National Archives digital preservation project has now been forecasted to reach as much as $1.4 billion,

•  several exciting projects are under way by state press associations to more prominently highlight public notices, and

•  major legislative battles are happening across the country, including a trend of bills to remove self-storage facilities notices from newspapers.

Demographics

FACT: People are still reading newspapers!

Results from the National Newspaper Association survey found that people read public notices in their newspapers. Some highlights from the survey include:

  • 75% of respondents think governments should be required to publish public notices in newspapers, with 23% reading public notices very often in their newspapers.
  • 71% of those surveyed have Internet access in the home, but 66% never visit a website of a local government.

Community Newspapers Continue To Show Strong Readership, Community Reliance (12.7.2010)

The Newspaper Association of America recently released findings that confirm viewers are still turning to newspapers.

Newspaper Websites Reach Nearly Two-Thirds of All Internet Users in 4 th Quarter (1.25.2011)

With a shift from the use of websites to purely mobile devices and social media, the time for the website may have already come and gone.

More and more people are spending their time on the Internet, but not on the Web. Facebook, IM, Skype, RSS Feeds, online radio, streaming movies, are all semi-closed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display.

Social Media and Young Adults (2.3.2010)

The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet (8.17.2010)

Americans and Their Gadgets (10.14.2010)

Prominent Notices

•  NARA Digital Archives Costs Skyrocket

The costs to build a digital archive for the National Archives have ballooned to rise as high as 41% over budget, a cost that could very well reach $1.4 billion. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del), who requested the audit of the project by GAO, expressed his concerns. The failure to provide proper oversight “calls into question whether the federal government has an effective strategy for maintaining and making available to the public the tremendous amount of electronic records.”

Cost to Build Digital Archive Could Hit $1.4 Billion, Federal Auditors Say (2.6.2011)

Costs Soaring for Archives’ Digital Library, Auditors Say (2.4.2011)

GAO Audit, Public Records Mishandled by National Archives (10.27.2010)

•  Arizona Counterfeiting Cover-Up

The Capitol Times newspaper exposed a cover-up wherein at least 14 times in the last three years, the health care district not only failed to publish procurement bid notices as required by law, but concealed its failure through falsified publication affidavits. An employee, who handled procurement responsibilities, duplicated a notary public’s signature on the affidavits to give the appearance that the requests for bids had been published.

Capitol Times Uncovers 14 Falsified Records at Maricopa Health Care District (1.7.2011)

•  Washington Attorney General Advocates for More Public Notice

Public notices increase government transparency and accountability, say Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna and Auditor Brian Sonntag. They are encouraging legislators to support changes to the state constitution including a provision to require 72-hour public notice before any bill receives a public hearing. No bill has been introduced yet.

Lawmakers Should Increase Government Transparency (1.12.2011)

•  Tennessee Public Notice Week (January 23-29, 2011)

Tennessee Press Association has launched a landmark campaign to highlight public notices in newspapers. You can link to the materials, including articles, editorials, cartoons, etc., on the TPA website here.

Public Notice Week on the Murfreesboro Post (1.23.2011)

Public Notice Week Commences Monday (1.24.2011)

•  New Public Notice Site in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Newspaper Association has launched a new public notice site, wisconsinpublicnotices.org . Notices are first published in newspapers and then placed on the site to offer enhancements such as statewide search and round-the-clock updates to online readers. Content on the site is searchable by city, county, newspaper, zip code and key word.

New Site Makes Public Notices Easy to Search (1.26.2011)

Group Says Government Never Been More Open (1.23.2011)

•  The Importance of Public Notices

Even poorly written public notices are read. See…

Green Lane Condo Project Leaves Unanswered Questions (1.7.2011)

People are reading public notices, including town council members. See…

Town Council to Discuss Digging at Island Park (1.7.2011)

Public notices are found in newspapers, as evidenced by this article which was written because someone stumbled across a notice in an online newspaper. See…

 

Throw Out the DSP and Let The Subsidies Begin (1.21.2011)

 

Putting the actual public notice law in an article adds significant depth to the story. See…

 

Island Park Residents Demand Answers from DEM on Arsenic, Newspaper Ad (1.19.2011)

 

Public notices encourage citizens participation in their community. See…

 

The Postal Service and Its “Process” (2.4.2011)

 

•  Failure of Government Websites

 

During the massive snowstorm that hit most of central and the northern U.S., the National Weather Service site experienced nearly six times its normal volume of web traffic leading to a slowdown and partial shutdown of its website. According to internal reports from the National Weather Service, the surge in traffic and slowdown of servers impacted the weather service’s ability to provide storm briefings to key decision makers. In some cases the briefings were uploaded to YouTube instead.

 

National Weather Service Website Gets Snowed In (2.2.2011)

 

Visitors to the Town of Hillsboro Beach (Florida) website were shown an image of the Iranian flag and the words “MCSM Iran Hacking” over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.

Hackers Leave Iranian Message on Hillsboro Beach’s Website (1.17.2011)

State   

Self-Storage Facilities

A new crop of bills have arisen to remove newspaper notice of abandoned property in a self-storage facility. See…

•  Colorado   {SB 39}

•  Florida   {HB 459}

•  Texas   {HB 1259}

In recent years, similar battles have been successfully fought in California and Wisconsin. A battle in Arizona last year resulted in notice of the default to now be sufficient through simply personal service instead of notice through both the newspaper and a notice mailed to the last known address of the occupant.

Government Notices

Another trend, bills to move government notices from newspapers to the web are once again being introduced around the country.See…

•  Indiana     {SB 322 & SB 562}

•  Michigan     {HB 4117}

•  Minnesota     {bill to be introduced}

•  New Jersey     {A 2802}

•  Oklahoma     {HB 1971}

•  Tennessee     {bill to be introduced}

•  Washington     {HB 1818 & SB 5360/HB 1478}

Public Meetings

Another issue we see all too often is a transition to move public meeting notices online. See…

•  Nebraska     {LB 150 & LB 144}

***If there are important bills in your state that have been omitted, please contact the PNRC so that we can help connect you with others who are fighting the same issues and/or alert others of potential obstacles.***

Federal

Congress.org , in conjunction with a web design firm, released a review of the top five worst federal government websites. The sites were graded using the government’s own usability metrics, as described by the usability.gov website: How easy it is to find your way around a page, how many clicks it takes to accomplish a task, how easy it is to retrace your steps, how often users make mistakes and whether users are generally satisfied.

The Five Worst Government Websites

Articles & Editorials

Editorials

Nebraska: Public Can’t Trust Government to Keep Track of Itself (1.25.2011)

Tennessee: Public Notices Under Attack (1.26.2011)

 

Articles – Failure of Meeting Notice

 

Metro Holds Meetings Behind Closed Doors to Pick Leaders (1.23.2011)

 

Second Public Hearing Draws Quarry Concerns in Burns (1.25.2011)

 

Council Meets Without Public Notice (1.20.2011)

 

Open Meetings, Edwards Release Issues This Week (1.9.2011)

 

3 Public Health Trust Members Violate Sunshine Law (1.8.2011)

 

PHT Violates Sunshine (1.7.2011)

 

Articles –Based on Public Notice

 

City May Acquire Abandoned Property (1.21.2011)

 

Malakoff Looking For Help With Planning Survey (1.13.2011)

In other news…

We encourage you to check out PNRC’s website: www.pnrc.net  for updates between issues. There you will find relevant articles and posts as well as valuable links to demographics, briefing sheets, previous editions and much more!

Please submit any stories or materials you would like to share to: info@pnrc.net

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The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.

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NEW JERSEY – A bill (A-2802) to remove the requirement to publish legal notices in newspapers and instead permit the notices to be posted on a government website has received new momentum after it cleared a second Committee today by a vote of 4-1.  There had been no new action on the bill since it was approved by the Budget Committee last July.

N.J. Lawmakers Advance Bill Allowing Towns To Post Legal Notices Only Online

NEBRASKA – Newspaper publishers and owners testified against LB 444, a bill to permit city, county, and other public bodies to post public meeting notices online rather than publish in a newspaper.

Testimony included statements from several young newspaper owners, such as Jason Frederick the owner of three weekly papers in southwest Nebraska.

“I want to stress if legal notices are moved from newspapers and put on the Web – my grandmother, my mother-in-law and aunt, they don’t have computers and aren’t on the Internet – you will take away these citizens’ rights and abilities to stay informed on what their representatives are doing.”

A Fight For The Right To Know – NEWSPAPER OFFICIALS TURN OUT IN FORCE AGAINST PROPOSED CHANGE IN MEETING NOTICES

TENNESSEE – Tennessee Press Association has designated January 23 through 29, 2011 Public Notice Week.  Member newspapers have access to editorials, cartoons and ads to encourage discussions about public notice through the week and throughout the year.

Tennessee Public Notice Week

Protected: Volume 11, Issue I

Volume 11, Issue I

January 3, 2011

As 2011 rolls out, we would like to thank you for your support of the Public Notice Resource Center and look forward to continuing to provide you with valuable resources and assistance in the New Year!

Demographics

The Pew Internet and American Life Project recently released its latest survey on what each generation views online, which includes tracking the percentage of people who use government websites. The survey found generally, that more people are looking at government websites this year than last year.

•  75% of Generation X views government websites, an increase of 11% in one year

•  69% of those age 56 to 64 view government websites, up 6% from last year

•  41% of those over age 74 view government websites, opposed to only 31% in 2009

It should be noted that Pew does not report with any specificity what types of government sites were included nor does the source of the information, which is listed simply as, “Pew Internet Surveys.”

This is a follow-up to the initial survey that was conducted in 2009, although the definition of each generation contained slightly different age ranges between the 2009 and 2010 studies.

Generations Online in 2010

Four out of five people in Wisconsin prefer printed legal notices, according to a recent survey by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. The survey found that 76.8% of Wisconsin residents believe that notices about public meetings should continue to be published in newspapers as a means of independent verification and government oversight.

Wisconsin Public Notice Readership Study

State

California

The City Council of Los Angeles hastily approved an ordinance that removes many requirements for public notice, only one week after it was green-lighted. The “Community Plan Implementation Overlay” will overhaul the city’s zoning code and threatens current safeguards against overdevelopment and outsized buildings.

L.A. May Say Goodbye to EIRs and Public Notice (11.18.2010)

Nevada

A bill to move public notices from newspapers to the Internet is anticipated in the 2011 Nevada legislature. Assemblyman Paul Aizley of Las Vegas is expected to reintroduce a bill he sponsored back in 2009. That bill was approved by both Senate and Assembly, but then vetoed by the Governor at the request of the Press Association.

New Jersey

In a twist of irony for a state that has on numerous occasions tried to pass legislation shifting public notices to government websites, New Jersey’s state-run websites were inaccessible on Cyber Monday due to a mechanical error that forced the shutdown of the state’s servers. Some sites were still unavailable as of 9:15 pm that evening.

N.J. Government Website is Down Until Further Notice (11.29.2010)

Tennessee

Two bills are already being proposed in Tennessee. The Montgomery County Commission will ask its local legislative delegation to support a bill abolishing the “publication” requirement for public notices and allow the notices to be moved to county websites.

The city of Chattanooga disclosed in late November that it was collaborating with the Tennessee Municipal League — an association of some 300 towns and cities — to get the General Assembly to move sunshine and other notices to city websites.

Rocky Road Ahead for Openness in TN Government (12.12.2010)

The issue is generating lots of editorials. See…

Notice – Weekly Newspapers Get the Job Done (11.21.2010)

City Council, Do Not Limit Access to Public Information (11.22.2010)

Public Notice: City Exploring Web Alternatives (11.22.2010)

Don’t Change Public Notices (12.8.2010)

Federal

The 2010 Save Award, an award launched by President Obama in 2009, designed to reward ideas on ways the federal government can save money, has declared its finalists. Three out of the four proposals suggest using IT to save money, including a proposal to post the public notice of seized property online rather than in newspapers. Ironically, the federal government began several years ago moving many newspaper unclaimed property notices to a website created by the Justice Department.

Federal Employees Suggest Using IT To Cut Waste (11.8.2010)

Judicial

The Wall Street Journal (“WSJ”) has been pursuing the ability to publish legal notices in the state of Virginia.

In 2009, the Wall Street Journal filed suit in Virginia Circuit Court seeking an order to grant the WSJ authority to publish legal notices in the city of Virginia Beach, VA. The Circuit Court granted the motion. Subsequently, the Virginian-Pilot filed a motion to intervene in the case, which was denied, but the Supreme Court of Virginia awarded the Pilot an appeal.

The Virginia Supreme Court ultimately dismissed the case finding the Circuit Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The Court held that the statute did not grant the WSJ the right to petition for the authority to publish legal notices. The statute expressly states the conditions a newspaper must meet in order to publish notices. It provides a court remedy only if the newspaper does not have a second-class mailing permit. The WSJ has a second-class mailing permit, therefore the court found it did not have the subject matter jurisdiction to intervene.

Virginian-Pilot Media Companies, LLC v. Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Parents of a public elementary school in Fairfax, Virginia are in court trying to challenge the School Board’s decision to close the school. They argue, among other things, that proper legal notice of the closure was not given since the notice was in The Examiner, a free publication that does not serve many neighborhoods in the jurisdiction.

Clifton Parents Say Proper Public Notice Never Given (11.17.2010)

Judge Takes More Time on Clifton School Case (11.23.2010)

International

Despite the launch of an online platform to carry public notices of all 32 local authorities in Scotland, the Director of the Scottish Newspaper Society does not see newspaper notice disappearing.

COSLA Website Will Not End Public Ads in Papers (12.16.2010)

Prominent Notices

As the housing market continues to recover, articles based on public notice of foreclosures are still plentiful. See…

Bank Publishes Notice to Foreclose on Old City Hall (12.9.2010)

Chicago’s Apollo Theater Building in Foreclosure Sale (12.10.2010)

Thurmont Shopping Plaza Slated for Auction (11.17.2010)

Florida Foreclosure Bargains in Doubt (12.10.2010)

The Board of Education in Belleville, New Jersey failed to follow the state Sunshine Laws when it published notice of their meetings in only one newspaper. Under the law, the Board is required to publish in two newspapers however cannot explain why only one publication occurred.

Were Two Newspapers Notified of Change (11.11.2010)

Has Board of Education Followed Sunshine Law? (12.16.2010)

Articles & Editorials

A great way for public notices to get noticed is to embed them directly within a news article on the subject of the notice. Here, an article that incorporates two items up for public review concerning Shell Oil’s plan to drill an exploration well next summer in the Beaufort Sea.

Public Input Sought on Shell’s Beaufort Drilling Plan (12.10.2010)

Another way to get notices read and encourage readers to look at the public notice section of the newspaper is to reference the actual location of the notice within the article, such as this story concerning a second public hearing for a family entertainment center.

Another Public Hearing Set on AFEC Proposal (12.10.2010)