Martin introduces bill to eliminate public notices in newspapers

A bill introduced to the Virginia Senate by Sen. Stephen H. Martin (R-Chesterfield) would allow local government to publish legal notices on the internet rather than in local publications. Martin argues that it provides for certain administrative efficiencies, including the modernization of procedures to give public notice of registration times and primaries”by posting on the official website of the county or city, by posting at not less than 10 public places, or by publication once in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or city.”

The Virginia Press Association VPA is opposed to the bill (SB 566,) on the grounds that it tampers with the Sunshine Act and transparency in government. There are as many as eight bills before the General Assembly during this session that will require the same basic changes.

Doug Harwood, Editor of the Rockbridge Advocate wrote in a letter to the assembly, “If the point of the public notice laws is to notify the public, the obvious choice is to leave the laws alone.

“If the point is to provide lip-service only to notifying the public, then I suppose the thing to do is to be honest about it and allow our governments to place them in places, such as their own websites, where they are less likely to be seen, than graffiti under a discarded school desk.”

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