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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 4, 2018 03:49 PM
From: Senator Mario M. Scavello
To: All Senate members
Subject: Legal Advertising Legislation
In the near future, I plan to re-introduce legislation (former SB 1026 of 2015-16) that would authorize government entities to meet their legal advertising requirements through publication in a community paper of mass dissemination.

Under current law, local governments must place official and legal advertisements, such as publicizing meeting dates or providing notice of bidding requests, in newspapers of general circulation. While such advertising is a necessary part of keeping the community informed of government proceedings, these publications may not be the most effective or cost-efficient way for local governments to reach their constituents.

In some areas of Pennsylvania, for instance, community papers have a larger circulation within a local government’s jurisdiction than the predominant local newspapers. Officials at the local level have a better understanding of how to best reach constituents with information regarding meetings and other events that must be advertised to the public, and my bill would offer them the flexibility to meet the needs of their communities.

Further, the effects of these economically challenging times are not limited to the pocketbooks of local citizens; they also negatively impact our local governments and school districts. This legislation would help to address current budgeting realities by lowering the legal advertising cost to government entities. According to a study released by Penn State University in May 2006, legal advertising in newspapers, as mandated by state law, costs local governments on average $26 million each year. Permitting these government bodies to choose a more inexpensive alternative by advertising in community newspapers both relieves taxpayers of this additional expense and frees dollars for other programs and functions.

The language in my bill will ensure that a local government may utilize only a community paper that is well-established, regularly distributed and delivered to all individuals within a zip code or a municipality’s boundaries. Thus, the integrity of the governing process would not be undermined by granting this alternative, but entrusts elected officials with making the best decision for their constituents.

If you have any questions regarding this legislation, please contact Christine Zubeck in my office at 717-787-6123 or czubeck@pasen.gov. Thank you for your consideration.