Senate Bill 287 is just wrong-headed

Published 10:16 pm Saturday, April 20, 2013

They’re at it again.
Some members of the N.C. General Assembly are tinkering with openness in state government.
Specifically, we’re talking about Senate Bill 287, which has to do with publishing public notices in newspapers. In effect, the bill, if passed, would allow some cities, towns and counties in the state to police themselves when it comes to public notices. That won’t work.
The bill calls for taking public notices out of many newspapers and allowing them to be placed on little-used government websites. Not everyone has access to government websites, but the public does have access to newspapers, whether by delivery, going to a library or buying a newspaper from a newspaper box.
This bill — and any companion legislation — should be thrown out of the Legislature. It’s counterproductive, to say the least.
This attempt to diminish open government is not the first one. It’s been tried before. Luckily, those past attempts have been fended off.
If this bill becomes law, a public notice about  a zoning change that could affect your property would not be posted in the newspaper. It would be up to cities, counties and state agencies to put such information on their websites. Do you trust government to post that information in a timely manner? We have our doubts that would happen in some instances.
Newspapers provide easy access to public notices. If local governments are allowed to post public notices on their websites, would they post those notices where they are easily accessed?
The bill is scheduled for the state Senate’s Monday-night calendar. Legislators who represent Beaufort County in the Legislature are urged to fight against this bill. Are you listening Sen. Bill Cook and Reps. Paul Tine and Michael Speciale?
This bill needs to die before its gets to the House and Senate floors. It’s just bad public business.