By Shane Nicholson
State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) Tuesday filed legislation, House Bill 261, to end the publication of public and government notices in newspapers.
The bill gives government bodies in the state the option to “publish (notices) on an official government website instead of in a newspaper.”
This is fourth such effort to remove public notices from the press and reallocate them to government websites.
A recent audit conducted by the Citizens Advocacy Center studied over 750 public body websites in Illinois.
The study showed that only 57 percent of government bodies complied with posting agendas of upcoming meetings as required by law.
Furthermore, less than half complied with posting approved meeting minutes and only 49 percent of bodies surveyed maintained a website.
In a tweet sent Wednesday Sosnowski said that he was, “Just trying to move us into the 20th century. Internet has been around for awhile. Maybe next year we can work on the 21st.”
Newspapers across the state supported legislation passed five-years ago that requires all publications to post public notices on a centralized statewide website, PublicNoticeIllinois.com, at no additional cost to government bodies.
The proposed bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove), would allow the over 6900 bodies of local government in Illinois control over posting public notices to their individual websites.
Only 11 percent of internet users have visited a local government website according to a 2010 Pew Research Center study.
Currently no state in the US allows notices to be published exclusively online.
In 2009 Utah passed similar legislation to H.B 261; it was repealed in 2011 due to bodies’ failure to comply with posting required information.