The Hoosier State Press Associ­ation continues to deal with state legislation that would negatively impact public notice advertising.

The worst is H.B. 1033, authored by State Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel. This bill would put mailed, free publications on an equal footing with paid-circulation newspapers for eligibility to carry public notice advertisements.

Torr introduced the bill to help Brian Kelly, publisher of the Current, a free publication in Carmel. HSPA explained to Torr that the Current could become the public records publication for that city under present law, and Torr said he would allow the bill to die if HSPA confirmed that fact.

But Torr changed his mind and pushed the bill forward.

HSPA testified against the bill before the House Government and Regulatory Affairs Committee, but lawmakers approved it 11-1. The full House approved the bill 86-8.

State Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, is sponsoring the bill.

S.B. 367 and H.B. 1266, authored respectively by State Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, and State Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington, are bills introduced for the state Department of Local Government Finance. They include a provision eliminating the requirement that local government units publish their proposed budgets as part of the notice of the budget hearing, where the public can speak on the budget and proposed tax rates.

HSPA spoke against this change during the H.B. 1266 hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee and S.B. 367’s hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

H.B. 1266 was moved without any change to the public notice provision by its committee and was passed by the House 82-12.

Hershman agreed to delay the elimination of the budget publication by two years in a second reading amendment for S.B. 367. It was then passed by the Senate 44-4.

HSPA hopes to have the language in H.B. 1266 match Hershman’s change to S.B. 367. Hershman is the sponsor of H.B. 1266, and it has been assigned to Senate Tax & Fiscal Policy Committee, which he chairs.

S.B. 367 will be sponsored by State Reps. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, and Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville. The bill was assigned to the House Ways & Means Committee, which Brown chairs.

H.B. 1385, authored by State Rep. Mike Speedy, R-Indianapolis, would allow storage facility operators to forego a public notice advertisement of an auction to sell “abandoned” property. It was passed by the House Commerce, Small Business & Economic Development Committee and then by the full House 87-5.

The sponsor is State Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis. It was assigned to the Senate Civil Law Committee, chaired by State Sen. Joe Zakas, R-Granger, who said the bill will get a hearing this month.

H.B. 1101, authored by State Rep. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, would have eliminated the publication of the list of properties available for tax sale. Niemeyer agreed to hold the bill after HSPA agreed to work with him on the problem of hard-to-sell properties listed multiple times in tax sale public notices. The bill did not receive a hearing in the House Local Government Committee, chaired by State Rep. Tim Neese, R-Elkhart.

H.B. 1206, authored by State Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, was introduced for the state Department of Insurance. It contained a provision to eliminate the publication of statements of condition by out-of-state insurance companies.

Lehman agreed to delete that provision from the bill when it comes up for a hearing in the Senate Insurance Committee. The sponsor is that committee’s chairman, State Sen. Allen Paul, R-Richmond.

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