Should Full Public Notices Be Allowed Online Only?

Feb 3, 2014

Credit Jon S / Creative Commons

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities has released its list of legislative priorities for the year. One of them would allow towns and cities to publish full public notices online, and not in newspapers. The move could save public money, but it is opposed by the state's newspapers.

Towns and cities say they spend millions of dollars a year on public notices.

Towns and cities would still have to publish a notice of the public document in a newspaper -- but they wouldn't have to publish the entire thing.

Similar bills have come before the legislature before. Towns and cities say they spend millions of dollars a year on public notices. It's money that they wouldn't have to spend if they could just publish public notices online. 

Kevin Maloney, CCM's spokesman, said, "This proposal is in no way trying to hamper the public's right to know. It would create a more cost-effective and efficient manner to provide public information. The real issue is not access to public information -- it's about money for the newspaper industry. This is a compromise that would allow towns to save some money and still provide full disclosure to residents in a town."

Chris VanDeHoef, executive director of the Connecticut Daily Newspapers Association, said his group remains opposed to the kinds of changes CCM wants. He said the proposed changes are bad public policy that could hurt citizens who need information and newspapers that need the revenue.

That said, VanDeHoef said the association would consider some changes. "We've offered looking into the total number of things that have to be noticed in the state,” he said. “We've offered taking a look at some of the longer, more arduous notices -- town budgets for example. …But, all in all, we believe the public notice is part and parcel of having an informed society."

A spokeswoman for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association said that her organization supports a compromise similar what CCM is proposing.