Saturday, January 17, 2015

Public Notices in North Carolina Needs to Be Open To Weekly Newspapers With One Simple Fix

There has been a lot of talk about public notices in North Carolina with N.C. Senator Trudy Wade trying to get legislation passed to revamp public notice laws to 2015 standards not 1949 standards. There was a time where the only form to advertise public notices was in the local paper but now with the invention of the computer, smart phones and internet it is time to think differently.

Let's take some small steps in this process and the obvious is to get some wording taken out of the North Carolina General Statute. Here is what is written in the North Carolina General Statute 1-597
§ 1-597.  Regulations for newspaper publication of legal notices, advertisements, etc.
Whenever a notice or any other paper, document or legal advertisement of any kind or description shall be authorized or required by any of the laws of the State of North Carolina, heretofore or hereafter enacted, or by any order or judgment of any court of this State to be published or advertised in a newspaper, such publication, advertisement or notice shall be of no force and effect unless it shall be published in a newspaper with a general circulation to actual paid subscribers which newspaper at the time of such publication, advertisement or notice, shall have been admitted to the United States mails in the Periodicals class in the county or political subdivision where such publication, advertisement or notice is required to be published, and which shall have been regularly and continuously issued in the county in which the publication, advertisement or notice is authorized or required to be published, at least one day in each calendar week for at least 25 of the 26 consecutive weeks immediately preceding the date of the first publication of such advertisement, publication or notice
Now as we see from this legislation that dates back to the 1940's it makes public notices have to be done in "Paid Subscribers" . Paid subscribers are papers like the Greensboro News and Record,Carolina Peacemaker, High Point Enterprise and Jamestown News in Guilford County.
We have a plethora of weekly papers that can provide public notices in Guilford County and they charge NOTHING to pick up a weekly paper but are locked out of the process because of this law that states it has to be a paid paper. Yes Weekly, Triad City Beat, Rhino Times and Northwest Observer are a few of the weekly papers in Guilford County that do a good job of informing us on local politics and should be able to provide public notices in this county. A great example of the absurdity of this law is the Northwest Observer which covers cities like Oak Ridge, Summerfield and Stokesdale and provides their papers for  FREE at no cost to the consumer . The cities I referenced have to go through the Greensboro News and Record to provide their public notices, when in reality it would be to the benefit of the citizens in Northwest part of Guilford County to get their public notices through the weekly Observer than News and Record because more citizens are getting home drop off of the weekly than subscribers to the News and Record in this part of county. State Representative John Blust tried to make his point on this but went on deaf ears to the state representatives who are scared to piss off the local newspapers to get negative press on them and to keep their monopoly on public notices because of outdated state law.
My suggestion as you can see in the above state law 1-597 is a small step but needs to be done in a county like Guilford who has weekly papers who can provide this information. We need to get a bill passed either local bill or statewide to take out "PAID SUBSCRIBERS" from the state law so that weekly papers can have a chance at providing this information to the citizens of Guilford County.
This is a small step to take out 2 words in a law but am sure the lobbyist and their state cheerleaders will fight this till the end. We will see what happens but hopefully we can get some traction with weekly newspapers all over the state and get a bill passed to take out "PAID SUBSCRIBERS" from NGS 1-597

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