The newspaper legal ads bill we reported on in today's Georgetown Times will be reviewed in more detail before it comes up for a vote in the South Carolina House of Representatives.
Bill Rogers, executive director of the South Carolina Press Association, said a voice vote was taken in the House today and it was agreed to send the measure to the Judiciary Committee.
"The response was a loud and positive vote on his motion…louder than most. No negative votes were heard," Rogers said. " We had 67 confirmed votes against the bill, which is a majority."
Those legal notices you see in newspapers announcing government meetings and other public information could disappear if a bill making its way through the South Carolina State House becomes law.
The bill introduced in the House on Jan. 24 would remove the requirement that governments purchase legal ads in newspapers but would give them the option of placing the ads on their own websites.
On Tuesday, the bill was placed on a 24-hour hold meaning some sort of action on the measure is expected today. It can be voted up or down or be sent back to committee for further review.
Rep. Stephen Goldfinch, one of the co-sponsors of the bill, said he supports sending it back to committee.
Currently the law requires such notices be placed in newspapers that cover the area of that particular government body.
Such notices include meeting dates and times for elected bodies and appointed committees as well as public hearings times.
If passed, notices related to elections would still be required to be advertised in newspapers but any notices unrelated to elections could be placed only on websites.
The bill does not prohibit governmental bodies from continuing to use newspapers but gives them the option of using only a website.
“Nothing in this section requires a county to provide or maintain a website,” the proposed bill states.
Goldfinch said the purpose is to save taxpayers money.
“Across the state communities will save millions each year,” he said.
Goldfinch claims only 18 percent of South Carolina residents read a newspaper.
“Republicans are interested in saving money for the government. This was introduced to me as a way to save millions of dollars. Newspapers say you have more visibility from being in the newspapers but now most people get news online. It’s the wave of the future.”
State Rep. Carl Anderson said he plans to vote against the bill.
“I am not in favor of it. The notices should be printed. We talk about transparency. Not everyone has access to a computer to go to a website. Everyone has access to a newspaper,” Anderson said. “This would cause people to have to constantly check a website.”
By Scott Harper
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