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A bill that would potentially save governmental entities some money failed to advance through a subcommittee on Thursday.

House File 600 would allow government entities to post public notices online rather than in newspapers.

Dustin Miller of the Iowa Newspaper Association spoke against the bill, though, as it would obviously impact the financial bottom line of Iowa newspapers.

But Miller focused his remarks on the Constitution and the importance of the media providing oversight of the government.

“Any approach to public notice should see the government notice to supplement not supplant,” Miller said.

He also said the criticism that these notices take time and are inconvenient are “complete bollocks.”

“It’s a minimum procedure required for a fundamental right,” he said. “I’m no law enforcement expert, but I’m sure it would be a lot easier to do law enforcement without those pesky Fourth and Fifth amendments.

“Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t believe the government is the best check on itself — neither did our founders.”

Alex Cutchy with the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities spoke in support of the bill.

“Having to publish notice in the newspapers particularly burdensome on our members who at times will have to publish a legal description of projects in the newspaper,” he said. “They have to pay by the word and that is a significant expense when you are going through an entire legal description of parcels within the paper.”

Representative XXXXX asked what all the announcements that have to be published are at this point.

Emily Piper of the Iowa School Board Association said meeting notices, budgets for school boards, bid notices, meeting agenda minutes.

Miller said all that’s required of minutes is a description of the action taken, the vote that was taken and that’s it.

Rep. Donahue said she has some concerns with the bill and agrees there are issues with just technology because there is a group of people who do not have access to technology or do not use computers.

Rep. Brent Siegrist said he also has concerns.

“While I think posting it online is a wonderful thing and I think everybody is doing that, I think there’s still a segment of the population — like it or not — that still depends on o the printed word,” he said.

Meyer said she shares some of those same concerns. The bill did not pass through the subcommittee.

Author: Jacob Hall