WATCH: Rep. Randy Fine Introduces Public Notices Reform Bill, Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey Fully Supports Effort
By Space Coast Daily // March 16, 2019
bill would increase accessibility to Public Notices, save taxpayers millions of dollars
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: State Representative Randy Fine and Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey held a joint press conference to announce Representative Fine’s sixth and final proposed piece of legislation for the 2019 Legislative Session which calls for Public Notice Reform.
REP. RANDY FINE: Public Notice Reform Act would increase accessibility to Public Notices, save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA – Representative Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay) and Senator Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) introduced the 2019 Public Notice Reform Act (PNRA), which will save taxpayers millions of dollars while increasing accessibility to Public Notices.
Rep. Fine was joined by Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, who fully supports the bill, to announce the Public Notice Reform Act during a recent press conference at the Government Center in Viera.
“As an elected official, and a taxpayer, this bill makes perfect sense,” said Sheriff Ivey.
“As the law sits right now, if we (Brevard County Sheriff’s Office) are going to do an auction, we have to do a public notice in the newspaper and there is a fee associated with that. We could just as easily put out that public notice online or a website.
“But as of now, the only avenue that is admissible is for us to put it up on public notice. Some of our citizens are on fixed incomes and can’t afford the printed paper. This (bill) will allow us to take taxpayer dollars we have designated in the public notice arena and be able to utilize it in other areas such as fixing the lagoon, public safety and infrastructure. For example, Brevard County has an infrastructure problem and this will allow us to use those resources to fix that.
“We are going to collectively work together to see that this happens,” Ivey added.
The PNRA would eliminate the requirement for governments and citizens to purchase physical print advertising for public notices while maintaining the requirement for online, storable, searchable public notices.
It would create a free market where current – and new – entrants could compete for the publication of public notices and would give governments the option, if they chose, to publish themselves.
Lastly, the legislation would require publishers of public notices to mail free, via first class mail, copies of all public notices to any member of the public wishing to obtain public notices in this fashion.
“A primary responsibility as legislators is to look for best value,” said Senator Baxley.
“The present method of printing the tax roll in a newspaper is anachronistic, and this is an unnecessary burden on the citizens of Florida.”
“When the public notice law was established, print newspapers were the dominant communications vehicle for our citizens,” said Representative Fine.
“With the advent of the internet and smartphones and the dramatic declines in print circulation, that is no longer the case. Taxpayers deserve easy access to public notices without having to spend hundreds of millions of dollars subsidizing a medium whose time has passed.
“Taxpayers were not forced to subsidize the telegraph industry as technology leapfrogged it; the printed newspaper industry deserves no better. And in a time where we are demanding local governments prioritize their limited funding to improve school safety and save our waterways, we owe them the ability to divert funding from state-mandated corporate welfare to these more important uses.”
Gannett newspaper executive Bill Barker said having legal notices in an independent and credible news product ensures the most opportunity for the public to be fully informed.
“We believe elected officials have the same level of interest in having a well-informed public as we do,” said Barker.
“We don’t want to see the day where the government begins to police itself through its own mechanisms of communicating to the public, that in fact, have very little use or engagement. Proper public notice is as important a foundation to government transparency as many of the other tenets of our democracy. And we would hate to see public officials try to leverage cost savings in the interest of taxpayers as a disguise to lessen transparency and full disclosure of notices to the largest possible audiences.”
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