Bill Filed to Modernize Publication of Legal Notices, Increase Local Teacher Pay Supplements

Raleigh, N.C. – Sen. Trudy Wade (R-Guilford), Sen. Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland) and Sen. Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg) filed legislation on March 21st to increase access to public and legal notices by making them available for citizens to view for free online. The new plan would help save taxpayer money and increase local salary supplements for public school teachers. An identical bill will be filed in the House.
The bill incorporates provisions supported by newspaper publishers to give more opportunities to view notices for those who purchase newspaper subscriptions or visit newspaper websites. It also increases access for those who do not pay for newspapers but visit free local government websites, by giving all local governments the option to post notices of their upcoming meetings, public hearings and other business electronically. Several N.C. cities and towns have already adopted this practice.
The bill:
·       Requires newspapers that run public notices in their print editions to also post them on their websites at no charge.
·       Saves tax dollars by providing that newspapers may not charge more than 85 percent of the original rate for  notices that must be published more than once.
·       Gives local governments the option to post public notices on their websites in lieu of purchasing newspaper ads with tax dollars.
·       Gives counties the option to post legal notices on their websites and charge a fee to law firms who wish to publish them.
It also directs that 50 percent of all fees collected by local governments for legal notices be spent on local teacher salary supplements – which could generate tens of millions of additional dollars to increase teacher pay.
“We all share the goal of making sure the public is better informed about what their government is doing. When the current system was developed in the early 1900s, the best way to achieve that goal was newspaper ads – but in 2017, it’s the internet,” said Wade. “Instead of subsidizing for-profit news corporations, this bill helps save local tax dollars and generates new revenue to pay our public school teachers more.”
The proposal is supported by the N.C. League of Municipalities and the N.C. County Commissioners Association.