Newspapers, Municipalities Still Divided Over Legal Notices

Mar 31, 2014

Credit Jon S / Creative Commons

The state's daily newspapers, and its towns and cities, remain divided over how to change the state’s laws on printed legal notices.

Towns and cities have said they want financial relief. They spend millions each year on printing legal notices in newspapers for things like public bids, meeting notices, and foreclosures. They’d like to change state law so they don’t have to print those notices in their entirety. Instead, they’d prefer to put a summary in print, and the rest online on their town and city websites.

A legislative committee overwhelmingly approved a bill that allows for those shortened printed notices. But here’s the difference: it calls for the online notices to be published by the newspapers, not the municipalities.

Chris Vandehoef, who runs the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association, likes the plan, and said it will help keep public information in the public domain. "We don't have to give up a ton," he said. "I don't think the towns and cities are giving up a ton. I think it probably alleviates a little bit of the problem that the towns and cities have."

That's not how the towns and cities see it. Kevin Maloney, spokesman for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said, "This is being portrayed as a compromise. Instead, it's the opposite from what CCM is seeking, and we will continue to oppose it."

Maloney said his members are worried that measure being considered leaves the door open for newspapers to charge them twice: once for the printed notice, and again for the one online.

The newspapers said that's not what they intend.

The bill passed out of the legislature's Planning and Development Committee. It's unclear where it goes next.