Parts of NJ are not ready for online legal notices

Today I sent this message to our NJ legislators.

I am writing to voice opposition to Senate Bill Number 2855 / Assembly Bill Number 4429, introduced December 12, 2016. This bill proposes to allow municipalities to save money by publishing public legal notices on web sites instead of more costly print methods. This in itself is not the problem. The problem is than in municipalities like mine (Downe Township) where residents do not have access to the internet, it is plainly unfair to allow the posting of important legal notices only on web sites.

You may be aware that I have been a loud voice for expansion of internet in our rural low-income communities. While your office has been supportive of this effort, the fact remains that we have been unsuccessful in our efforts to provide internet access to all residents. It is unfair to financially reward the municipalities now with lower publishing fees after they have consistently failed to require Comcast and Verizon to provide universal internet access in negotiating internet installation contracts.

I urge you to either reject the bill or to introduce an amendment that would prevent the website publishing rules from being effective in municipalities that do not yet have universal access to internet.

Someday we will all be able to benefit from the efficiencies of the internet. Until then, fair play dictates that we maintain traditional forms of communication on legal matters.

5 Comments
  1. 3-4 times more households in NJ have the internet than get the newspaper. Anyone who does not have either can go to the local library. Since the Internet is a more efficient form of communication, I am in favor of the legislation

    • Perhaps you misunderstand the proposed legislation Kenn? Right now citizens get important government information in the back of weekly newspapers. If the legislation passes that won’t happen any longer. Internet at home is not an option. Are you suggesting that these entire communities go to a library on a weekly basis? ( The closest library with internet is a 30 minute drive into Millville).

      • Yes, that is what I am suggesting. Actually I’m only suggesting that 10% of people go to the library. According to recent studies, only 22% of Americans subscribe to newspapers, It is less if you eliminate the newspapers that don’t publish legal notices. I don’t, subscribe to the Star Ledger where legal notices are published. Thus, I understand the trend. 90% of people have Internet connections and most of them rely on the Internet to get their information, not the newspaper.

        Like it or not, that is the reality of today’s information age. I don’t agree with Christy on everything but on this, I feel the requirement to put the ads in the paper equates to a government subsidy on the publishing business, paid for by homeowners.

        • Well, here in rural areas of southwest NJ 0% of people get internet and so people do still rely on the two local newspapers for legal notices and important announcements. They tend meet and discuss these printed articles in small groups over breakfast, coffee, at the firehouse, church halls or at the senior center (our only public building). These are the same communities where local government consistently voted to allow exclusion of certain rural communities from internet service. The amendment to the bill that we are proposing is simply that these local communities only (not the whole state) continue print publication only until such time that internet is a readily available option. I’m not suggesting that the entire state be required to use print publication. The basic requirement of government in this instance is to serve all the people, not just those who live where internet is installed. As far as I know our county freeholders, state senator and assemblymen support the proposed amendment but I have no information that the proposed amendment has been heard in Trenton. As far as I know, there was little time for public comment on the bill between introduction last week and scheduled vote possibly tomorrow?

  2. This morning’s news reports that the bill was not voted on yesterday because legislators knew that they did not have enough votes for passage. The coverage makes it sound like legislators just did not like being rushed in the ‘sneaky’ last minute manner this bill was presented rather than opposition to the general idea. I hope this additional time allows them to recraft the bill to be fair to rural residents not served by internet. (We understand that the much bigger issue at play is revenue to newspapers but that’s not my issue).

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