Legal notices; advertisement by locality. (HB1373)

Introduced By

Del. Chris Head (R-Roanoke) with support from co-patron Sen. Roz Dance (D-Petersburg)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Legal notices; advertisement by locality. Allows localities with a population of 50,000 or greater to meet certain notice requirements by utilizing their websites, radio, or television instead of a newspaper of general circulation. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


12/10/2012Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/09/13 13100973D
12/10/2012Referred to Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns
01/11/2013Assigned CC & T sub: #2
01/24/2013Subcommittee recommends reporting with amendment(s) (1-Y 10-N)
02/05/2013Left in Counties, Cities and Towns


James Naggles writes:

Delegate Head, why is it that you people presume that anyone who needs to know about these public notices has access to the Internet? Large numbers of people do not even own computers. This is a perfect example of how far removed you are from the general public you purport to represent.

By the way, what is the evil that this measure is meant to address?

ACLU-VA Open Government, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

ACLU of Virginia joins the Virginia Press Association in opposing this legislation that would remove notices of pending government action from community newspapers and authorize localities to publish the notices only on government-run websites. ACLU-VA and the VPA believe that government should not be the only check on dissemination of public information. Newspapers continue to be the way most adults gather information about their government, particularly in communities with little or no high-speed internet connections. The cost of newspaper notices is not significant especially compared to the cost of developing and maintaining a secure website. Once printed in a newspaper, a government notice cannot be changed which is not true of information maintained on a website. Continued publication of public notices in newspapers is important to protecting transparency of information and open government.

Mark Moskow writes:

This bill addresses the ongoing issue of governments wasting scarce resources (paper and money). This bill is a good one and long overdue. The need for access to the internet to read legal notices is not necessary. All you need is a cell phone. Online publications nationwide are already posting notices for FREE and all notices are texted to anybody who wants to read them when they are posted. Why should we continue to have to pay for notices in print when, the next day they are gone. Notices online stay posted forewer. In addition, moving notices out of print sets an example of environmental responsibility by not wasting paper.

James Naggles writes:

So now, everyone has a cell phone with Internet access? Does ANYONE have access to the Internet with a cellphone, regardless of whether he has an account with Verizon, Comcast or the like? Is the access free? When I tried to use my cellphone for access, I was asked for an ID and password.

Maybe I'm just not sufficiently immersed in modern technology. I suppose that if the answer to all of these questions is "Yes", the problem is not as great as I thought, but it is still a problem (to me at least)when one has to actively check an agency or local government website to stay aware of what his government is doing. One would have to check his cellphone to see whether his home is in an area that is being changed from residential to agricultural, rather than by knowing because he saw the notice of the meeting of the county zoning board (or whoever) that is considering the change.

I just tried to get to my county's website on my cellphone without success, but then I don't have a smart phone, just a regular cellphone. It was fine using this laptop, though.

Mark Moskow writes:

You sign up once and the notices are pushed to your cell phone. No waiting for the newspaper to arrive at your door. No wasted paper. No access to the internet necessary. No squinting to read the 7 point type in the back of the newspaper. No paging through the classifieds section to find the legal notices section. No need to pay for the newspaper. No diverting scare county resources to pay for the notices.
Once the newspaper is thrown out, the notices are gone. These are posted forever.

James Naggles writes:

Note that the amendment passed in committee means nothing. It just allows the local government 2 means of avoiding publication of notices in newspapers(website and radio or TV) instead of 1. Guess which they will choose?

I like the idea of saving the county, and therefore myself, tax money, but this is not the way.