Placement Of Legal Notices Could Be Changed By Bill
If the Oklahoma Legislature approves a bill changing the method by which legal notices are made public, only the computer-savvy would have access to that information.
This is the general sentiment of those that oppose the bill authored by state Rep Randy Grau, a Republican from Edmond. House Bill 1971 seeks to allow “counties to solicit and accept bids from newspapers to publish proceedings, minutes, notices, advertisements or any other document required by law on the newspaper’s website.”
A state House committee passed the measure Wednesday following a vote of 8 to 5.
Another measure, Senate Bill 359, which allows counties the option to place all legal notices only on county websites, was also passed by the committee and is now awaiting full Senate action.
According to the supporters of House Bill 1971, counties are spending too much in posting the notices in newspapers all over the state.
The House measure is being opposed by the Oklahoma Press Association, an organization that represents various newspapers in the state. It claims that the measure will not improve government transparency nor will it make the notices easier to find.
According to Grau, Oklahoma counties spend as much as $2 million annually printing the required public notifications, which have been posted in various newspapers for the past 100 years.
Grau stated on Thursday that he authored the bill “in order to save taxpayer money, provide greater control to local elected officials, and to offer governments the opportunity for modernization, and therefore, greater efficiency.”
He also said that “The taxpayers of Oklahoma spend over $1.92 million per year just on required newspaper publications for counties. That amount of money would build a lot of roads and bridges.”