Public notices play role in open government

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By Brian J. Hunhoff


Something good happened last month in the South Dakota Legislature. House Bill 1167 was killed. HB 1167 would have allowed municipalities with more than 5,000 population to post legal notices on internet websites only, instead of publishing them in local newspapers. The bill was defeated 11-1 in the House Local Government Committee. The lone vote in favor was cast by its sponsor.

This was a “divide and conquer” strategy by the South Dakota Municipal League to pass a bill that mostly affected the state’s largest communities and daily newspapers. Editors at our small rural newspaper and other weeklies fought it alongside the dailies.

This is not just a South Dakota issue. There have been attempts to remove public notices from newspapers in at least 13 states this year. Among them: New Jersey, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Oregon, Michigan, Texas, Kansas and Connecticut.



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