Newspaper legal notices survive in bill

A bill written to reduce mandates on local governments was amended Wednesday to require most legal notices still to be printed in local newspapers.

Rep. Roger Crawford, R-Mora, wrote the bill to help governments save money, but on a split voice vote a House committee opted to keep legal notice requirements pretty much as is.

Crawford’s bill would have allowed governments to put more legal notices on the Internet instead of printing in a local newspaper.

“There may be time when we don’t use paper for anything, but that time has not come,” Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, said, adding that some small newspapers depend on legal notices for quite a bit of their revenue.

But Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah shot back that newspapers “will adapt. … It is not local government’s job to subsidize businesses.”

Older Minnesotans would especially be hurt by putting legal notices on line, Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, said, because fewer in that age bracket use computers.

Sandra Neren, representing Minnesota’s 370 newspapers, said newspaper Web sites such as the West Central Tribune in Willmar attract more than a million page views a month, while government Web sites generally receive far less traffic.

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