Proposed Bill on Notices Halts in Committee
A Republican-backed attempt to move foreclosure legal notices to the Internet and away from the broadsheet industry, which for decades has benefited from the requirement notice, was stalled by lawmakers on Tuesday.
The benefits of continuing to give the elderly, the poor and less web-savvy Florida residents with the capacity to check the notices in a local newspaper as compared to allowing county clerks to advance in the digital age was weighed by a divided House panel.
In the end, Democrats were joined by four Republicans in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee to reject HB 149. One of them was Rep. Shawn Harrison, a Republican from Tampa, who said that he wants to safeguard “the last bastion of protection” for a number of elderly Hispanics in Hillsborough County, who continue to depend on smaller newspapers to obtain this kind of information.
Harrison said, “I just don’t think we’re there yet.”
Hundreds of thousands of legal notices are posted in newspapers annually, a step mandated by law before a foreclosure is made by the lender on a home. Supporters of the bill said that such requirement might have been reasonable for newspapers to publish the notices in 1941, but in present times, it is really a subsidy for an industry that has been yielding its fame to the Internet.
Sponsored by Rep. Dennis Baxley, a Republican from Ocala, the bill would have permitted county clerks to determine whether to post the notices online instead of in a newspaper.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Fort Walton Beach, said, “This notion that the Internet is somehow not an acceptable form of communication, I think, went out of style with the Backstreet Boys in about 1995.”