Senate Committee Hears Bill to Increase Access to Information

Contact your representatives in the House and urge them for their support of this bill.
(Published Mar 3, 2014)

The Senate State and Local Government Committee on Feb. 26 heard a League-endorsed bill, SF 1152, which would allow cities to determine whether web publication should replace or supplement newspaper publication of public notices.

The bipartisan bill was discussed for nearly an hour-and-a-half before committee chair, Sen. Sandy Pappas, who is a co-author, laid it over for future consideration. Supporters of the bill, including the League, are now working to secure a hearing on the bill in the House Government Operations Committee.

The League encourages city officials to contact their legislators in support of the legislation.

About the legislation
SF 1152/HF 1286 (Sen. John Pederson, R-St. Cloud, and Rep. Zach Dorholt (DFL-St. Cloud) would allow cities to communicate instant, up-to-date information to residents about their government. While citizen access to the Internet has grown substantially over the past two decades, circulation of most daily and weekly newspapers has fallen. Because of this, local units of government have invested heavily in other forms of communication to ensure their residents are informed about the work of their government.

The legislation would allow local units of government the option of publishing statutorily required public notices on their websites instead of paying to publish notices in a newspaper. The legislation does not change the requirements of what is published or when it is published—it only changes where it can be published.

For some cities, newspaper publication may remain the best option. For the 75 percent of cities with their own websites (90 percent in larger and/or metro communities), online publication may be more cost-efficient and reach more residents. Determining how to reach the most people in a city is a decision best kept local and in partnership with citizens, not determined by the state as a one-size-fits-all mandate.

Furthermore, local units of government are expected to operate their budgets in the most efficient and effective way possible. Online communication increases and improves access to information, leading to a more informed and participatory population.

This bill is also supported by the Association of Minnesota Counties, the Minnesota Township Association, and the Minnesota School Boards Association.

Advocacy tools
The League has developed advocacy tools to assist cities in advocating for the alternative publication initiative.

The League is tracking resolutions that are adopted by cities. If your city passes a resolution, please send a copy to your legislators and to the League at liaison@lmc.org.

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