HB106 leaves the public in the dark

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Approximately 109 newspapers deliver printed copies of the newspaper to homes across Alabama every week, with a presence in all 67 counties.

Every notice printed in a newspaper is already uploaded to AlabamaPublicNotices.com, an independent, statewide website, as well as to the newspapers’ websites. The public has free access to both. We have a system in place that provides maximum access to public notice. Both online and in print.

Newspapers are reliable. A notice appearing in a newspaper is permanent. It cannot be changed or altered. A printed newspaper cannot be hacked, where critical information could be added to or deleted.

There are literally billions of websites, so the public is far less likely to search for notices on a government web site than go to their local paper, where they are accustomed to finding notices.

Less access means less transparency and accountability. There is no argument that regardless of how you slice it, this is access-restrictive legislation. In many cases, those most affected will be seniors, rural Alabamians and the less affluent.

HB106 eliminates access for hundreds of thousands of Alabamians. People in rural Alabama – which contains the vast majority of counties in the state – have limited or no access to broadband. Even in areas where there is availability, internet fees make it financially beyond the reach of many people who still depend on the local paper for news and information on local, county and state governments.

Finally, government entities should not ever be in charge of posting their own notices. Requiring independent, third-party newspapers, newspaper websites and alabamapublicnotices.com ensures that public notices run in accordance with the law. The fox should never be guarding the hen house.

Newspapers shine a light and offer transparency, trust, and integrity to keep readers informed.

Submitted by the Alabama Press Association.

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