Sunday, March 31, 2013

California Legal Notice Bill Gets It Right. AB 642 Allows Online News Organizations To Compete With Printed Newspapers for Public Notices



California Legal Notice Bill Gets It Right. AB 642 Allows Online News Organizations To Compete With Printed Newspapers for Public Notices.

California Assemblyman Anthony Rendon may be new to his position, but he could teach a lot to , more experienced legislators about proposing an online public notice bill that makes sense. If the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then there are quite a few crazy legislators. For the past three years as we have covered over 40 proposed online public notice bills, virtually all of them have proposed to let the local government take over the publishing of notices. Each time the newspaper lobby alleges that there should be an independent third party to publish notices; and succeeds in killing the bill. Each time we concede that while the newspapers are correct in advocating for a third party, a possible solution would be to let online news organizations compete for these notices as there are already online news organizations publishing notices and doing a better job than the newspapers.
So while Rendon's bill No. 642 is similar to AB 1902 which was killed in the Assembly's Judicial Committee, maybe it takes a novice to get things done. The dead tree newspaper lobby has already started to use their bully pulpit to lobby against the bill with headlines like "Proposed Legislation Could Kill Newspapers"  Rendon's bill could save California's cash-strapped local governments over $40 million and provide wider distribution of local public notices. That sounds like a good bill.
In order to qualify to compete for legal notices the online publication needs to meet the following criteria:
  1. It provides local, national and international with an "intelligence of character."
  2. It is updated at regular intervals no less than weekly for a year
  3. It has "substantial readership" in the jurisdiction of the notice.
  4. It maintains reporting staff in the jurisdiction where the newspaper is seeking adjudication
  5. It has maintained coverage of local, national and international news "of a general character" on at least 25 percent of the space available on the home page.
  6. It links to public notices on its home page that is "readily accessible ...
There are several online publications staffed by experienced journalists who are can provide this service in California.
To read how other states are addressing this issue Click HERE

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