Senate committee sets aside public notice bill

The Minnesota Senate State and Local Government Committee essentially set aside a bill Wednesday that would allow local governments to move public notices out of newspapers and post them only on local websites. More than 90 minutes of testimony were heard from both sides.

Although the bill may still be brought up again, opponents said that the bill was set aside without a vote because not enough committee members were in favor.  The bill is not expected to be heard in the House of Representatives.

The Association of Minnesota Counties and the League of Minnesota Cities touted the move as a cost-saving measure. Newspaper defenders cited the greater likelihood that citizens would see a notice in a newspaper or on a newspaper’s website than on a government website.

Most government websites have only a fraction of the views of newspaper web sites. By law, newspapers must post, at no additional cost, all public notices that run in print on their own websites, if they have one. Local governments also may post the notices on their own websites in addition to publishing the notice in print.