Bill to end legal notice requirement in newspapers fails

February 10, 2021 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Legislation to end the requirement that government agencies publish legal notices in newspapers failed in the House on Wednesday.

Lawmakers rejected with a 37-33 vote the measure that would have eliminated a source of income for Idaho newspapers.

Legal notices are a form of advertising government entities in Idaho are required to purchase to publicize things such as new laws, construction projects or meetings.

Lawmakers backing the bill said it would save government entities money by allowing governments to publish legal notices on their own websites. They could also still publish in newspapers if they wanted.


“It’s time we move Idaho from this archaic way of posting public notices and bring us into the 21st century,” said the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Jon Weber.

Opponents said it would make finding legal notices difficult to impossible amid multiple government websites. Opponents also said the archival information contained by publishing in newspapers needed to be preserved with the public notice requirement.

“This bill takes away an independent check on government,” Republican Rep. Bruce Skaug said. “It’s government that wants this bill to pass. It’s all government agencies. It’s the fox guarding the henhouse, so to speak, if you pass this bill.”

He also said government entities might have to pay more money for construction projects if multiple companies don’t see a public notice and not many competitive bids are received.

Some lawmakers who represented rural areas spoke against the measure, saying a lack of internet and even cellphone coverage limited residents’ ability to get public notices.