Are public notices in newspapers a waste of money? Sometimes.

As you know, I am big on open government, and public notices are important;

A bill that would allow South Dakota’s 17 largest cities to publish their public notices such as meeting minutes online instead of in the local newspaper was defeated in committee on Thursday.

HB1167 would have allowed cities with populations of more than 5,000 to publish their public notices on their websites, freeing them from the current requirement that notices be published in the local newspaper.

Rep. Greg Jamison, R-Sioux Falls, the bill’s sponsor, said the state’s larger cities are already posting their notices online, as well as broadcasting the meetings.

HB1167 “makes it so it doesn’t have to be in the newspaper,” Jamison said. “That’s the big difference here.”

While I agree alternative methods should be ‘explored’ I do agree with the SD newspaper industry – to an extent;

Justin Smith, an SDNA lobbyist, said that having a third party print the notices ensures that the government “cannot come back later and change them.”

In his work as a lawyer, Smith said, he has at times needed to check on notices published as far back as the 1950s.

“There is forever a record of that information,” Smith said. “1167 would destroy this permanent archive.”

While their arguments are fine and dandy, the issue I have with the way it is now, is that it has to be in a ‘paid subscription paper’ and the problem with our local paper is that they print it on a weekday (not as many subscribers) and in 4-point type. It should really be in the Sunday Paper in at least 6-8 pt type so people don’t have to get out a magnifying glass. I also don’t see a problem with it being in a weekly shopper that doesn’t have subscribers, it may get MORE readership. Right now, the government entities are subject to when the newspapers decide to print the notices, and that isn’t right either. Just Sayin’.



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