Legislation calling for online distribution of public notices by newspapers passes Senate as nation observes government “Sunshine Week”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The State Senate has approved legislation requiring newspapers that print public notices to post them on the Internet. Senate Bill 461 is supported by the Tennessee Press Association. Action on the bill was taken during “Sunshine Week,” an annual time to highlight the importance of maintaining open government nationwide. The legislation recognizes the growing use of the Internet as a source of information, while preserving the integrity of using an independent agency for public notice by newspapers of general circulation.
Current law requires public notices be given on a variety of matters of importance to the public, including government meetings, bid announcements, notice of parental termination, foreclosure notices, public sale of private property, back tax notices, estate notices and zoning changes, to name a few. Local governments, looking for ways to reduce expenditures have suggested they can save money by posting notices on their websites rather than posting them in a local newspaper.
In addition, the legislation calls for the newspapers to post public notices on a central statewide website. Every newspaper that publishes public notices must post on their website homepage a link to the public notice section and another link to the Tennessee Press Association’s statewide repository website.