Monday, March 12, 2012

Legal Notice Legislative Update: VA. Waters Down Bill While Hawaii Florida and Cal. Make Progress Moving Notices Online



*Legal Notice Legislative Update: Va. Waters Down Bills. Hawaii, Florida and
Cal. Make Progress Moving Notices On Line.*

This has been a busy two weeks in on line legal notice activity. Hawaii has a
bill which has passed the Senate unanimously. California has a new very
clever bill proposed. Viriginia's Press Association succeeded in convincing
legislators to water down the bills attempting to save the state money.

*Virginia*'s Legislature, which had the most promise for passing 8 state wide
bills to move notices on line, caved to the pressure of the Virginia Press
Association. As of our last report,
only two bills remained alive which could potentially save the taxpayers
money without continuing to subsidize the printed newspaper industry.

* House Bill 234
would have reduced the amount of information required to be published in
the newspaper about a time-share being sold under foreclosure. It passed
the House by a huge 98-2 margin on February 14. Prior to the bill going to
the Senate and bowing to lobbying by the Va. Press Association, the
wording that would have reduced the amount of information required to be
published in print, was changed and the requirement to publish an absurd
amount of information in print was reinstated. The bill, whose purpose was
to "reduce the amount of information required to be published" was
neutered and ultimately will save the state nothing while preserving the
subsidy to newspapers. The bill will most likely be signed.
* House Bill 1193 would
have required local public bodies to post required procurement notices on
the Department of General Services' central electronic procurement website
and makes newspaper publication optional. It passed the House of Delegates
78-21 but was set aside by the Senate's Committee on General Laws and
Technology by a 10-4 margin.

In *Hawaii*, we reported last that
Senate Bill 2233
had made it out of multiple Senate Committees. Since then the Senate Ways and
Means Committee slightly watered down the bill (State-wide notices can be
moved out of the statewide paper and into a local paper and county-wide
notices can be published on line) and recommended passage. *The Senate
unanimously passed the bill 25-0* and it is now in the House where the House
Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on March 15. Hawaii is unique in that
there is a very well written on line newspaper, Honolulu Civil Beat, that has
a deep-pocketed owner who could be influential.

*Florida* took the first step in moving notices on line. Both the House and
the Senate passed the bill and it was sent to Governor Rick Scott for
signing. HB937
appears benign. It saves the state and local governments no money. It just
mandates that notices published in print are also published on line. The
newspapers see this as a victory but it sets them up for the next round of
legislation which should say that notices will no longer need to be in print
(see below).

We've saved the best for last. *California*, the largest state and the most
technologically progressive (as well as the most troubled financially) has
proposed the most thoughtful bill yet from any state since we've been
covering this issue. Instead of enforcing that the government publish
notices, AB 1902 in detail
expands the definition of newspaper of general interest to on line
newspapers. Ironically, the need for this bill came from the situation that
exists in many rural areas where the print newspapers have now deserted them
while on line publications have come in to fill the void of news provider. We
will examine this in our next post as this bill successfully refutes the
independence issue which the newspapers have successfully used to protect
their franchise. This measure could be heard in committee by March 24.

To read how other states are addressing this issue

Click *HERE*