Update: Public Notice Bills, 2021 Session, Week 4.
Here are the bills we are following and their status.
Senate Bill 402:
A strike-all amendment to the original 3-page bill by Senator Ray Rodrigues (R. Fort Myers) dealing with judicial notices was filed on March 19. The 52-page amendment allows many types of legal notices to be published by “government agencies” in printed newspaper or by “internet publication on the website of any newspaper of general circulation in this state.” The amendment ends the requirement that the printed newspaper be for sale, and to have obtained a periodicals permit from the post office.
The amendment and the amended bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee (8-3 vote) on March 22, despite a good deal of testimony against both. The next reference is the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice. Thanks to those many publishers, editors, and market leaders that appeared in Tallahassee to testify!
Here is the amended bill and here is a brief summary. We expect SB 402 to be amended again, and will be working with Senators, staff, and interested parties to provide constructive input. We will keep membership apprised of new developments and may again be asking members to come to Tallahassee to provide input to the committee on the bill.
House Bill 35:
Filed by Rep. Randy Fine (R. Palm Bay), the bill is similar to those he filed the last two sessions (both of which passed the House but failed in the Senate), and again allows for publication of public notices on “publicly accessible websites and government access channels.”
The bill passed out of the House Floor on March 18 with a vote of 85-34, largely along party lines. Here is the link to the vote tally: https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/floorvote.aspx?VoteId=19909&BillId=69988&SessionId=90&. We will continue to follow the bill and similar language that might appear on the Senate side until session ends.
How You Can Help Oppose SB 402 and HB 35-related language
FPA members should continue to let Senators and House members know about your concerns with HB 35 allowing government websites to carry public notices in place of newspapers. Even though it has passed the House, we want both chambers to know that we continue to oppose this concept. Please continue with op/eds opposing HB 35 and related language and running related articles.
Here is a link to a spreadsheet with legislative contact information for members, which we will continue to update and add to.
For further resources and actions you can take to oppose these bills, see the Public Notice Day page on the FPA website (under resources): https://flpress.com/publicnoticeday.