The League is a strong advocate for a modernized approach to legal advertising. As traditional print newspapers consolidate and publish less frequently, it has become increasingly difficult and costly to local governments to meet the current advertising requirements.
Municipalities are required to advertise notice of public meetings, proposed ordinances, contracts, requests for proposals and other official business in a newspaper of general circulation. In most instances, there is only one newspaper of general circulation in each municipality, eliminating the ability to seek competitive pricing.
The League supports authorization for municipalities to use optional and cost effective alternatives to traditional newspapers, such as pennysavers, merchandisers and other low-cost local newspapers, or to advertise on a municipal or statewide website.
Public Notice Modernization Legislation
Senate Bill 252 (PN 225) and House Bill 955 (PN 967), introduced by Senator John DiSanto and Representative Jason Ortitay respectively, would amend Title 45 (Legal Notices) providing local governments with various, more modern methods of advertising.
When an advertisement is required by law, a local government would be able to choose from a menu of advertising options including: a county newspaper of general circulation; a newspaper printed in the local government unit; A newspaper circulating in the local government unit; a legal newspaper designated by the rules of the county court; the public website of the local government; the public website of a newspaper; and a locally circulated printed publication that is at least four pages long.
A local government would be required to post a copy of the advertisement at its principal office or building. If a local government is unable to post the advertisement at their principal office or meeting location, the county would provide a space where the local government would be responsible for posting the advertisement.
A local government would also be required to adopt a resolution declaring the intent to use one or more of the alternative advertising methods. A local government must provide public notice regarding the passage of a resolution in one or more newspapers of general circulation within its jurisdiction.
Protecting Local Governments from a Newspaper’s Failure to Advertise
House Bill 2148 (PN 2496), introduced by Representative Brett Miller, would amend Titles 45 (Legal Notices) and 65 (Public Officials) regarding the satisfaction of the legal advertising requirement.
This bill would consider a municipality that submits an advertisement to a newspaper of general circulation and simultaneously posts a duplicate advertisement on their municipal website to have met the legal advertising requirements in the event the newspaper fails to publish the public notice. A municipality that holds a meeting under a duplicate advertisement shall enter into record a copy of the advertisement provided to the newspaper and proof that the municipality purchased the advertisement in a timely fashion.
Location: First Consideration in the House, December 15, 2021