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OPINION

Price: Newspapers unneeded for public notices

Recently, there has been much discussion regarding House Bill 4183, legislation I introduced to reform the way public notices are given to local residents. There are many misconceptions regarding this bill, and I welcome the opportunity to clear the air and ease concerns that residents may have.

Currently, local governments are required to use printed newspapers to post public notices. However, modern technology and mediums of communication are constantly evolving, so it is essential to embrace new methods that ease accessibility and broaden the public’s access to government information to promote transparency and accountability.

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2012, just 23 percent of people surveyed reported to have read a print newspaper the previous day. In comparison, 39 percent of citizens said they received their news online or on a mobile device, while 55 percent use television for their local news. Studies have made it clear that a vast majority of the population is now seeking their news through more modern technology. It’s essential to ensure that local governments are able to use the mediums with the largest audiences to communicate local happenings and government information.

Under my legislation, local governments have the freedom to decide what is best for their communities. To ease any confusion over the new options, there is a 10-year phase-in period to implement the different methods of posting notices online. Municipalities could choose to use a local media outlet, which could include television and radio broadcast or newspapers with a reliable website; enlist a third-party to assist with website postings; or keep notices in local papers.

By providing local governments with the option to use different methods of posting public notices, they are given the opportunity to individually identify the best way to disseminate the information to the largest audience possible. I want your local community to be able to choose what is best, not state government.

Residents without Internet access can request to be subscribed to a mailing list of all public notices for no more than the cost of printing and postage, which is generally less costly than a newspaper subscription. Hard copies of notices will also be maintained by the local government for free public viewing to ensure accountability and access for all.

It’s time to make Michigan more transparent and accountable by broadening public access to government information using 21st century technology that is already widely utilized by citizens. Let’s put public notices where the public notices.

State Rep. Amanda Price, R-Park Township, represents the 89th District