With hundreds of bills yet to read in the 2014 Indiana General Assembly, the Hoosier State Press Association already has identified and is working on four negative public notice advertising bills.

State Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, presented H.B. 1033 to the House Government and Regulatory Affairs Committee this week. His bill would give qualifying free-circulation products equal status with paid-circulation newspapers in eligibility to carry public notices.

Torr filed the legislation to help Brian Kelly, publisher of the Current, a free publication circulated in Carmel.

HSPA executive director and general counsel Steve Key testified against the bill. He pointed out that present law doesn’t need to be changed to address Torr’s intent. Committee chairman State Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, held the bill without a vote following testimony.

If Torr can be satisfied that present laws address the Current’s issue, Key expects the bill would not move forward.

State Rep. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, filed H.B. 1101, which would eliminate the publication of the tax sale list. Niemeyer says the cost for urban counties, such as his Lake County, is “astronomical.”

The bill was assigned to the House Local Government Committee, chaired by State Rep. Tim Neese, R-Elkhart. After a pledge by Key to work on the issue with Niemeyer during the summer, it appears Neese will not give H.B1101 a hearing.

State Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington, filed a bill on behalf of the Department of Local Government Finance that would eliminate the publication of the notice of budget hearing for local government units in the fall. Instead of publication, the information would merely be posted on the Department of Local Government Finance website.

Key raised HSPA’s objections about a government website posting versus publication in local newspapers. He also told Leonard that he already has a scheduled meeting with Micah Vincent, Department of Local Government Finance commissioner, to discuss ways to improve public awareness of budget information.

Leonard encouraged Key to talk to Vincent but made no commitment to eliminate the offending language for H.B. 1266.

State Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, is carrying a bill for the Department of Insurance (H.B. 1206). The bill includes a provision eliminating the requirement of out-of-state insurance companies to publish statements of their financial condition.

Lehman told Key that he would be willing to remove the provision that had been inserted by insurance department staff, probably when the bill gets its Senate hearing.