EDITORIAL: Shifting public notices to government reduces transparency

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June 19, 2017 10:01 AM

How much faith do you have in government running things?

State Sen. John Eichelberger, a Blair County Republican, wants the government to handle publication of public notices, taking them away from media companies and putting them on a government-run website.

Eichelberger introduced Senate Bill 745, which essentially gives the government the power to control its own notices. The bill was referred to the Senate Local Government Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York.

Like many organizations, we think that’s bad policy and urge readers to tell their representatives to oppose it.

Legal notices are valuable sources information that lets the public know about tax increases, public meetings, government projects and zoning laws, among others. Under current state law, local governments must post public notices in newspapers. You’ll find them in most classified sections.

The Meadville Tribune charges for pubic notices, just like other companies do. However, moving notices to a government-run website will not eliminate costs or come free of charge. We think taxpayers still will be on the hook for the costs associated with gathering the information, writing the notices and posting them to a government site.

When we asked Republican state Sen. Michele Brooks, whose 50th District includes all of Crawford County, her stance on the bill, she declined to take a position on the bill in its current form, saying through a spokeswoman that the bill would likely be amended before a final version comes up for a vote. Read more...

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