Tuesday, December 13, 2016

NJ Legal Notice Bill Discussed

NJ Lawmakers are fast-tracking a bill that could “punish” New Jersey newspapers, one source told The Record on Saturday. The bipartisan measure would scrap a decades-old state law requiring municipalities and counties to publish legal notices in printed newspapers — a source of revenue for New Jersey’s flagging newspaper industry.

 Democratic leadership was poised to advance the bill scrapping the legal notice provision for newspapers.
Asked if Christie insisted on the bill eliminating the legal notice provision for newspapers — as payback for the critical coverage he’s endured over the past few years — Sweeney sidestepped the question.
“I don’t want to punish newspapers. I have a great relationship with newspapers,’’ Sweeney said, but he added, “Most people read from the Internet. They don’t buy newspapers right now. It is not being fast-tracked.”

Sweeney gave voice to critics of the legal notice requirement, who say the law is obsolete and out of touch with the reading habits of modern readers. Towns could save money, they say, by posting notices on their websites. But  New Jersey newspapers, including The Record, derive revenue from the legal notices — advertisements for public meetings, bid opportunities and other official business — and their bottom lines would be hurt if municipalities and counties were instead required to post those notices only on their websites. Several publishers testified against that plan when it was considered by the Legislature in 2011. It was pulled.

Newspaper industry officials quickly launched a lobbying effort, armed with some of the same arguments used to defeat the measure five years ago: that the promised savings have never been properly analyzed, that hackers could easily penetrate town websites and alter documents, and that it could lead to the loss of 200 to 300 newspaper industry jobs and force weekly papers to close.

“We are very concerned; it appears that the legislative leadership is in sync on this, and we don’t have the full picture on what was going on behind the scenes,’’ said George White, executive director of the New Jersey Press Association. “The concept of allowing governments to fulfill a legally required public notification mandate by self-posting on their own website is a public policy fiasco.”
Some lawmakers don’t see why there is suddenly such a big rush. Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, opposes scrapping the legal notice requirement

Entire article at

Press Editorial

So how much would it save, in the end? Probably nothing. The last time the boys in the back room tried to pull this stunt, in 2011, the Legislature's own research arm said it might not save a dime - and could even increase local costs. That may explain why no other state has done this.


Update - Bill pulled until next year

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Many small towns do not have printed newspapers any longer, such as Mullica. The Press dropped its Mullica Hometown section years ago. It no longer has a reporter that attends committee meetings. The Hammonton Gazette and the Hammonton News is for Hammontonians. The News fired its last Mullica reporter years ago. You never find anything in any of these papers about Mullica.
The typeface of the newspapers' announcements are so small that only people in government or local businesses take the time to read them. Its time to stop wasting the taxpayers' money and publish them on the Internet Free of Charge for everyone to easily see and read, not just the few who still subscribe to printed newspapers for this purpose. Why are the taxpayers still subsidizing this business that doesn't reciprocate?