For the foreseeable future school districts, and other government bodies, will continue to pay to have meeting minutes, public notices, school documents, bids and other information in the newspaper.
House Local Government committee members deferred House Bill 1224 to the 41st Legislative day at Tuesday’s bill hearing on a 10-3 vote. HB 1224 would have allowed government bodies to post information on a designated website instead of paying for the information to be printed.
“This (bill) is about an option,” Executive Director Wade Pogany testified. Pogany added the bill allows school districts to be more cost effective and efficient, which has been required by past legislation.
Rep. Steven Westra (13), the bill’s sponsor, echoed Pogany’s thought.
“It’s very expensive to print this information,” Westra testified. “I think it is time we stop local subsidies to newspapers. This isn’t an anti-newspaper bill. It’s a changing of the times.”
Along with posting information online, government bodies would have had to designate a place where a hard copy of the information would be posted, emailed or mailed a hard copy of the information to those who requested it and put notice of the posting change in the newspaper twice a year.
SDNA Lobbyist Dave Bordewyk said he appreciated the discussion, but posting the information kept the public informed.
“Newspapers are performing a service (publishing information),” Bordewyk said. “Why should (newspapers) be expected to do it for free?”
Rep. Stace Nelson (19) also opposed the bill saying he believed the press had “the most important” job in reporting on the actions and discussions of government bodies.
“We’re not stopping reporting,” Westra countered. He also noted the state legislature does not print any minutes or information, but rather posts it online, which Nelson also said he did not favor.
The different requirements left Pogany to ask, “Why wouldn’t school districts have that same option?”