Public Notice Trends
In May 2011, Rep. Therese Hayes submitted a small group of bills to Maine’s legislative House. She intended to change public notice laws in the state. The proposals didn’t go far, but they did raise some uncomfortable questions.
Bill One: Instead of publishing a public notice twice—once before the change and once after the change was implemented— Maine would only have to publish it once. Some of the saved money would be used to create an online resource for the public notices.
+ According to Hayes, this would save the government $250,000
— Is it fair to cut the public’s opportunity to affect proposals of a change in their community?
Bill Two: Notices could be published in “give away” advertisers, not just newspapers that require a paid subscription. Municipalities also could publish notices through electronic distribution if more than 50 percent of all households subscribe to the “listservs” in order to receive those notices.
+Government’s interest in developing modern means of communication with the public is served
+Saves the Government money that can be reinvested into the community
—What about the 49 percent that don’t have access to an online resource?
Hayes seems to think that public notice is an easy place to cut the budget because some of her constituents say they do not read public notice and are shocked at the high cost of publication.
Just because the public may not be reading the notices, does that mean we should take the right to public notice away? It seems similar to saying, we haven’t needed the right to free speech in awhile, let’s get rid of it to make more room for other orders of business.
Information from Bangor Daily News.