Friday, February 17, 2012

3 Republican legislators vote to continue corporate subsidies to newspapers

I couldn't believe what I watched yesterday. Three Republican legislators - who all hold themselves out as conservatives - voted in a committee hearing to continue granting print newspapers an exclusive monopoly on public notices. Reps Carl Seel, Jeff Dial, and Terri Proud all voted against HB 2403, which would have brought us into the modern era and permitted public notices to be posted on the internet instead of print newspapers, including on government websites, saving taxpayers lots of money and increasing transparency. Websites like Sonoran Alliance and my IC Arizona would be able to post public notices at a  more competitive cost.

I wrote an article fully explaining the depths of this problem here. I received this email today about it: "I work for a newspaper and you're 100 percent right ... but I can't say anything. Not only does the public pay to put notices in the paper, the law requires purchasing the paper to get the notices. They get you coming and going."

It may not be too late to revive this bill. Please contact the three Republican legislators who voted against it and express your disappointment. Kudos to the Republican legislators who supported it, Sen. Andy Biggs, Rep. David Stevens and Rep. Justin Pierce.

Carl Seel - cseel@azleg.gov 926-3018
Jeff Dial - jdial@azleg.gov 926-5550
Terri Proud - tproud@azleg.gov 926-3398

1 comment:

David Stevens said...

HB2403 is dead. The bill that was being drafted to address the BIG PRESS monopoly of public notices died in committee on a 2-5 vote. While I will admit the bill was not in useable form, we were working toward language that would have started addressing the one sided and outdated requirement that only paper publishers can handle public notices. With the movement to the internet and electronic media it is only logical to revisit statues that have been effect since the start of this country and state. There are nearly 300 pages of regulations that deal with the format and frequency of the notices. This will be revisited in the future.
There was plenty of testimony on how the founding fathers praised the newspaper and “selected” them as the bearer of the news. [ Let’s try to forget that the internet, radio, and television had not been invented yet ] The lobbyists were quick to discount this fact.
There was a lot of talk of distrust of the government [ most of that I share ] and only a 3rd party publication can be trusted to provide the vital information.
There was a lot of talk how the printed copy is the best way to reach all of the people. I question an individual on the data that attempted to show 75% of the people of this state look at a paper at least twice a week and I asked him what the percent he would accept was. His answer was 50% + 1. The information provided to me on the subscription rate throughout the state is around 18%. [ the numbers just don’t add up ].
Finally, Wendy Briggs displayed some guts and told us that they make a PROFIT and there is nothing wrong with that. Plus, When asked if the paper will still publish the notices if there were no money, her answer was NO. [ I guess chivalry is dead also ].
I didn’t even go into the [ so called ] polling done by the papers, from their customers. Somehow 40 responses from over 7,770 customers was noteworthy to them.
My goal was to focus on the technology and not the cost. This type of legislation had been tried before many times and fail, because it was focus on the money. I am still committed to opening this up to all types of media, to include on-line publications. There are still many areas that need to be addressed and Representative Proud has some very important concerns and suggestions that will be address. I can only relate this experience to a limerick. I’m no Black Bart but here it goes:

There once was lobbyist for the Press
Discussing How to get around this mess
Because, it sure is sweet
Sucking on the government teat
And telling them it’s for their best