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Public notice bill passes Senate

Posted April 23, 2013

— Local governments in 10 counties will be able to bypass requirements that they advertise public meetings in a local newspaper under a bill the state Senate approved Tuesday.

The measure, which received tentative approval Monday night, would apply to the county governments and city governments in Burke, Graham, Guilford, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Mecklenburg, Swain, Union and Wake counties. 

"It's an option," said Sen. Jim Davis, R-Macon. "They can do what they think best serves their people."

Opponents of the measure assailed it as hampering citizens' ability to know what's going on. Under the measure, governments that opt out of newspaper advertising would have to disclose meetings on a government website. 

"A paper's website actually attracts more people than a government website," said Sen. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, adding that giving local exemptions would create confusion about what public notice rules applied in which counties.

On Monday night, Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, noted that many local newspapers were small businesses that would be hurt by the loss of advertising revenue.

Davis pushed back on this argument Tuesday, saying local government shouldn't subsidize local businesses.

"North Carolina should not be part of the business model for newspapers in this state," Davis said. He also pointed to stories in newspapers about this bill that he said were not entirely accurate.

"If you're going to believe everything that's in the newspaper, you're going to be ill-informed," Davis said. 

The bill now goes to the House.

7 Comments

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  • rroadrunner99 Apr 24, 6:05 p.m.

    Sounds like they want to hide all their dealings from the public eye to me. What other reason would there be for changing this?HHHHMMMMM.... some crooked deal's coming down the pike?

  • free2bme Apr 24, 10:25 a.m.

    The people Sen. Davis represents need to see what they have put in office. He seems to have no understanding of how things really are and makes assumptions without factual base. If there is nothing to hide, why shouldn't the public be informed of public meetings. Some people believe it or not do not use the internet. My great aunt still gets the newspaper delivered, reads it daily, and has no desire to use the internet. A group of people will be omitted from knowing about public meeting because of such an unnecessary bill.

  • free2bme Apr 24, 10:12 a.m.

    Sounds like someone has something to hide.

  • albegadeep Apr 24, 9:57 a.m.

    They have to pay the papers to publish meeting information? If it was free, I'd be against the bill, but this DOES give the option of finding the info.

    I understand that some people don't have 'net access. Lots of people don't get papers either - should the government be forced to mail out notices? (Of course not.)

  • hp277 Apr 24, 8:35 a.m.

    This is the wrong way to go. Not everyone has computer access, and have you ever tried navigating a local government website? They could hide these notices anywhere.

  • Rebelyell55 Apr 23, 6:54 p.m.

    Too bad that they can't just start working on some real bills that would help the citizens. So far they appear to be doing all they can to control goverment in a way to prevent the voice of the people from being heard. Sound like it opening the door to more back room polictics and corruption.

  • indrdw Apr 23, 6:20 p.m.

    Maybe the house will do what is right for the citizens. Not everyone has a computer. Not everyone wants a computer. If this passes you will see more of this type of thing done. It will not stop with this.