Legislation to give local governments legal-ad alternatives dies in House subcommittee

Landes, Bell bills would have given localities wide range of options to disseminate public notices

Story by Chris Graham

Legislation from a pair of local lawmakers that would have allowed city and county governments to bypass having to publish legal notices in newspapers of record has failed in a House of Delegates subcommittee.

The House Counties, Cities and Towns Subcommittee voted 8-3 to kill Weyers Cave Republican State Del. Steve Landes’ bill, HB 586, that would have given localities alternatives to publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the locality for legal ads and other notices of proposed action.

A similarly-worded bill from Staunton Republican Del. Dickie Bell had been rolled into the Landes bill.

The legislation would have given local governments the ability to choose at least two of five alternatives for publication — newspaper and its online product; the locality’s website; the locality’s public-access channel; the locality’s voicemail or text-alert system; or posting at the local library.

Proponents of the initiative in this direction cite the declining readership of print newspapers and the increasing reader numbers and cost savings associated with the use of online resources to buttress their case.

Critics, most coming from the news industry, raise issue with online-readership numbers and emphasize the role of newspapers as an independent voice.


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