Miami Herald by Mary Ellen Klas
February 6, 2020
The newspaper industry was on the defensive Thursday as a House committee approved a bill that could strip legacy newspapers of an important revenue source by no longer requiring local governments to buy ads to publish legal notices about public business.
The House State Affairs Committee voted 14-9 to give local governments the option of publishing legally required notices on publicly accessible websites instead of in newspapers, if that would result in a cost savings to the governmental entity.
The public notice ads are intended to alert the public to things like tax increases, zoning changes, seized property, government meetings, special elections and hazardous waste sites.
Current law requires that all meetings of a county, city, school board, or special district at which public business is discussed be noticed in a local newspaper and on that newspaper’s website. The local government is required to purchase the ad at discounted rates, and a consortium of newspapers also aggregates the notices at floridapublicnotices.com, a free, searchable website run by the Florida Press Association.