Pharos-Tribune

Breaking News

Local News

February 10, 2013

Notice bill strongly opposed

Bill would allow public administrations to publish notices online instead of in newspapers.

LOGANSPORT — A state senate bill that would allow public administrations and their underlying entities to publish public notices online rather than in newspapers has been tabled after meeting stiff opposition.

Under Indiana Code, local governments and the boards, commissions and other entities in them are required to publish notices of public meetings, elections, bond sales and other events in newspapers. The administrations are responsible for taking on the publication costs to do so.

Senate Bill 458 would allow these entities to forgo publishing in newspapers in lieu of publishing on their own websites or an official county government website. The bill would also require the publication of a weekly advertisement in newspapers providing the Internet address of the notice website.

State Sen. Jim Banks, who authored the bill, said he felt it would ultimately improve the way citizens are informed about public meetings.

“My motivation behind introducing the bill is to create more access to public records,” Banks said. “Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week access to public records, in my opinion, creates more transparency and access than exists currently.”

Banks said the rapid decline in newspaper readership also led him to pursue the legislation.

According to an October 2012 Pew Research Center study, 23 percent of Americans read print newspapers on a daily basis.

“We’ve looked at the changing landscape and have recognized people can use information differently rather than 100 years ago when the law was written,” Banks said, referring to the law requiring public notices to be published in newspapers. “This legislation would create more opportunities for people looking for public records to find them.”

One of the opponents who testified against the bill at its hearing was Stephen Key, executive director and general counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association.

“Citizens out there don’t really know about public notices being posted, so they discover them when they read the newspaper,” Key said, naming the multitude of commissions, boards and other administrations that would be posting individual notices online if the bill were to be voted through. “That’s not something that’s intuitive or anything anybody is expected to know.”

Key said placing meeting notices right into the constituents’ hands via a newspaper is more efficient than having them stumble across notices online or forcing them to actively seek out the notices.

“The most effective way to do that is to still put it in newspapers,” Key said. “That’s the place everyone expects to see news in the community and what the government is doing.”

In light of the concerns brought up by Key and others, State Sen. Randy Head, chairman of the Senate Local Government Committee, did not call for a vote on the bill.

“The points raised by opponents of the bill gave me cause for concern and I think other members of the committee,” said Head, whose District 18 includes Cass County.

According to the city of Logansport’s budget for 2012, $10,000 was appropriated for public notices. If Banks’ bill were to be signed into law, public administrations would no longer have to pay to publish notices in newspapers.

“Banks is coming from a perspective of saving taxpayer money, which I appreciate and was why I gave it a hearing,” Head said. “However, there are other issues that need factoring. We can’t just go with the least expensive option; we need to make sure it gets information out to the public in the most efficient way possible.”

Key said these taxes were a small price to pay when factoring in the end result, however.

“It’s a worthwhile expense for taxpayers to spend this money in order to be able to find out how millions are being spent,” Key said.

Taking the $10,000 the city appropriated for public notices and dividing it by 20,000, the approximate population of Logansport, each citizen paid around $0.50 to have public notices included in a newspaper last year.

Head said whether or not the bill will return for a vote is at the Senate’s discretion.

“It really depends on if there’s a consensus reached between members in the caucus and if they think they can resolve those concerns,” Head said.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Pharos-Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Police blotter: April 25, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    April 24, 2014

  • NWS-PT042414 Princess Singing-MAK Fairy tale remix: Lewis Cass presents "Once Upon a Mattress" WALTON -- Barbra Burch played Queen Aggravain in Lewis Cass High School's 1985 production of "Once Upon a Mattress." Twenty-nine years later, she is directing the musical at the school. "It's kind of surreal," she said. "There are some things that ta

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Indiana Packers opening Frankfort plant FRANKFORT -- Delphi-based Indiana Packers bought a former Birchwood Foods meat plant in Frankfort and plans to reopen it this summer. Indiana Packers, which employs 2,000 full time at its Delphi plant, is investing $2.28 million to purchase, renovate

    April 24, 2014

  • Minding the nutrition gap Almost one in five children in Cass County who sometimes don't have access to enough food for a healthy life aren't eligible for federal assistance programs designed to address that lack, a new study indicates. Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap proj

    April 24, 2014

  • Police blotter: April 23, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    April 23, 2014

  • Mall mortgage up for auction The mortgage note for the Logansport Mall is scheduled to be sold at auction early next month. Foreclosure procedures for the mall began when lawyers for Algonquin State Bank, N.A., out of Algonquin, Ill., filed a complaint against the mall's owner -

    April 23, 2014

  • NWS-PT042314 Earth Day4.jpg Being kind to their mother: Lewis Cass students plant trees on Earth Day WALTON -- Weeks of planning came together Tuesday as students planted 22 trees on the grounds of Lewis Cass Jr.-Sr. High School in observance of Earth Day. Amy Densborn, a science teacher at Lewis Cass, wanted to plant the trees so that students in s

    April 23, 2014 5 Photos

  • NWS-PT042314 Bags.jpg Students collect 2,475 pounds of plastic bags The Cass County Solid Waste Management District now knows to be careful what you ask for. The district opted to again this year host its plastic shopping bag contest for area elementary schools in observance of Earth Day. Overall, the district recei

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Inmate sues for religious services at Miami County prison BUNKER HILL – A Native American inmate is suing the Miami Correctional Facility for violating his constitutional religious freedom after the prison last year terminated Native American worship services. Daniel Littlepage says in a class action lawsui

    April 22, 2014

  • Police blotter: April 22, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    April 22, 2014

Featured Ads
More pharostribune.com
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

Should mushroom hunters be allowed to forage off-trail in Indiana state parks?

Yes
No
Undecided
     View Results
eEdition