Towns and cities spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to print public notices in area newspapers. This week, a bill aimed at scaling back that mandate died in the state legislature. Newspaper publishers are happy, and local government advocates aren't.
State Senator Steve Cassano was working on a compromise. It was a bill that would have reduced, but not eliminated, the size and frequency of public notices that towns and cities have to run in their local newspapers. But he was surprised to learn this week that the bill didn't make it out of a legislative committee. "It's absurd the taxpayers have to pay over a millions dollars to put all of their notices in newspapers when in fact newspaper readership is down and people are using computers on a daily basis."
But while Cassano saw the bill as a way to save money for towns and cities, Senator Gayle Slossberg saw it as bad government. The bill died in a committee she chairs. "We have a belief in our country that people should have a right to know how their government makes a decision and why they make a decision and that they should make a decision in broad daylight. And the only way that people know about that is that if they get a notice, and they're properly notified as to what their government is doing. There's lots of ways to save money, but that doesn't make something right."
Still, Cassano says he'll try to find a way to move the bill forward in the interest of local taxpayers. But, for now at least, the bill is dead. "I don't know how dead dead means in the legislature quite honestly." A lobbyist for the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association praised the bill's demise.