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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: May 11, 2020 09:30 AM
From: Senator John DiSanto
To: All Senate members
Subject: Flexibility for Local Government Advertising and Notice Requirements
In the near future, I will introduce legislation that would provide a flexible menu of options for local governments to use in complying with current requirements to advertise and provide public notice in physically printed newspapers.  This legislation will modernize our advertising requirements and provide much needed savings to local governments experiencing sharp declines in future revenues as a result of the economic disruption caused by Covid-19. 
In recent years, printed newspapers have been sharply reducing or eliminating regular publishing and increasing advertising costs, and local governments are finding it difficult and expensive to comply with the archaic advertising requirements in current law.  County, municipality, and school district officials fully support the need to keep their communities informed of local government events and operations, and they know that public engagement is necessary to have an effective system of open government.  The challenge for local officials is to use the forms of communication most likely to reach constituents in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Current law requires local governments to publish notice of various board and committee meetings, bidding requirements for certain purchases and contracts, legal notices, and official advertisements in print newspapers of general circulation.  This mandate is expensive and inefficient, and it was created before the Internet changed the ways that people receive information.  For these reasons, I am introducing legislation that would provide flexibility in meeting these requirements in a way that will improve efficiency, increase readership and reduce costs.  The proposal allows counties, municipalities, and school districts to advertise public notices either electronically or in printed format by choosing from a menu of options.
Importantly, this proposal also allows local governments flexibility to reach more of their constituents.  The broad reach and convenience of technology must be considered, as a growing number of people access news through computers, smartphones, tablets, and laptops.  Allowing advertisements to be posted electronically will boost transparency by making them searchable and available to a broader readership.
The following organizations are supporting this legislation:
Pennsylvania School Boards Association
County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association
Pennsylvania Municipal League
Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs
Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors
Pennsylvania State Association of Township Commissioners

Please join me in cosponsoring this legislation to allow local governments to be more responsible with taxpayer dollars and reach broader audiences in a manner that fits the current times.

Introduced as SB1222