The gavel barely banged when the first Public Notice Advertising bill was introduced

Bang! The Boom! Public Notice Advertising bill introduced in first 30 minutes of session

Not long after House Speaker David Osborne called the House of Representatives to order on opening day of the 2020 General Assembly, we had the first Public Notice Advertising bill introduced.

It was actually House Bill 195, meaning several other bill numbers and titles had been read but the whole session on Tuesday was just 30 minutes so you can see it didn’t take long.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jerry Miller, who represents parts of Jefferson and Oldham counties. If enacted, it would move all public notices from newspapers to local government websites, basically rewriting KRS 424, the state’s Public Notice law. Rep. Miller had said about a month earlier, in an interim committee of the House and Senate State and Local Government committees, that he thought it was time to move those ads into the digital era. Of course, KPA has had the digital era in mind since 2010 when it created www.kypublicnotice.com. It serves the double purpose of newspapers printing public notices in the paper while moving into the digital era with those same notices appearing on the worldwide web.

It’s a project of KPA and member newspapers across the state and costs any public agency nothing except for the notice being published in the print editions of qualified newspapers.

Meetings and discussions have already taken place with groups on both sides of the issue and a meeting is scheduled early next week with the sponsor.

Also earlier this week, every publisher received an email with a detailed listing of the last date every newspaper had sent their issue/edition to NewzGroup, the company responsible for putting kypublicnotice.com together.

Here’s a link to House Bill 195 as filed: https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/recorddocuments/bill/20RS/hb195/orig_bill.pdf

What would this change mean to local residents? Plenty. If enacted as written, a resident would have to go the website of each and every public agency to find out what’s going on in the county. Got more than one incorporated city or town? You’ll have to go to a website for each one. You’d only have to go to one county government website but it’s possible different agencies under the county control would have websites and require the residents to access each of those individually. Every county has a school district but some have more than one. Go to the website for each one to find out what’s happening. And then the local Planning and Zoning Commission, local municipal utility company, local water company, parks and recreation department would each operate their own websites requiring the public to access each one.

Of course, that’s assuming every resident would have internet access, and that’s known to not be the case.

How much of a problem is that? This information from Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, includes the results of a 2018 study:

The latest broadband-adoption data I can find, from the 2018 American Community Survey (the continuous national poll by the Census Bureau), is here:

Census Bureau poll on internet access in Kentucky

More than 18 percent of Kentuckians lack broadband access.

 

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