By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Public notice legislation

HB275 would waive newspaper publication for some legal notices


Public notice legislation

HB275, a bill that would allow the state and Alaska municipalities to post certain public notices online on a proposed state website rather than in newspapers, got kicked back to the House Rules Committee Monday.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Mike Hawker, was on Monday's floor calendar. But instead of coming for a vote, it was sent to Rules, where bills sometimes go for additional work or until there is sufficient support for them to pass according to the Associated Press.

The bill was intended to save the state money according to the sponsor statement published in support of the bill, but critics, especially in the newspaper industry, were quick to point out that electronic only noticing could potentially exclude a large number of Alaskans and would require citizens to sift through a large number of notices that may or may not relate to their interests in order to keep tabs on state actions.

On Tuesday morning, Rep. Eric Feige said to the Valdez Star that while he is generally in favor of legislation that saves public monies, he will most likely not support the bill, which he predicted might not make it out of the Rules committee.

"I think it's probably going to die there," he said in a telephonic interview from Juneau Tuesday. "I wasn't real happy with that one."

Feige noted other troubles with electronic noticing requirements, besides the obvious loss of revenue to small community newspapers in District 6, including the Valdez Star, the Copper River Record and the Delta Wind. Especially for people that don't or can't use the internet on a regular basis.

"You would be sort of disaffecting those folks," he said.

Feige also noted that there are questions unanswered regarding how it can be proved that notices have indeed been published electronically.

"I think the bill's dead," he said.

The bill can be changed again in the Rules Committee, die there due to lack of consideration or sent back to the full house either amended or as it stood Monday. It is not uncommon for bills to sit in committees until the bill's sponsor is confident it will pass on the floor.

Ironically, Feige's constituents recently received a tabloid-sized pulp mailing entitled "District 6 News."

The eight-page publication features information with Feige's byline outlining his thoughts on pending legislation, the capital budget and photos of happenings in Juneau and District 6 and constituents.

Feige said the old school style tabloid was mailed to District 6 voters, which includes residents from his area from Chickaloon, east towards Glennallen, down to Valdez and north through the district's Richardson Highway corridor.

Valdez Star file photo

Rep. Eric Feige in August 2012. Feige said Tuesday he was not supporting HB275.


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