The legal notices that take up the back pages of many newspapers isn’t must-see reading. But it’s mandated by law that city and county governments and agencies under their jurisdictions must advertise public meetings to propose ordinances, change zoning codes, alert about deadlines and such in the newspaper. It also forms a lucrative revenue source for those print newspapers.
Those newspapers are the source of the information thanks to Florida law on the books since print was the main source of community news.
With more and more news and information going digital and moving away from traditional print news, which has caused a dramatic decline in print circulation, a state lawmaker has filed a bill to allow those public notices to go digital news and media sources as well. The purpose of these ads and announcements is for them to be seen by the community.
According to the text of the bill, the hope is to create a competitive market for the publication of those notices — one that would still include newspaper advertisements.
Rep. Randy Fine (R-Melbourne Beach) sponsored the bill that would allow for those notices to be also posted on a government website, or one designed by the government for those purposes.
Those online announcements must be “storable and searchable”.
This is Fine’s second attempt at this legislation. He filed a similar bill last year that passed in the House but it’s companion bill in the Florida Senate did not get the same support. The 2020 version has received Judiciary Committee review.