HSPA reminds newspapers that the publication of local government budgets accompanying the notice of budget hearings will continue for one more year under current state law.

The state Department of Local Government Finance initiated H.B. 1266 during the 2014 General Assembly to avoid the publication requirement in favor of web posting.

“The sunset provision gives HSPA a year to prove to legislators that Hoosiers still prefer publication of notices in newspapers rather than posting on government websites,” said Steve Key, executive director and general counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association.

Key believes officials pushed the provision in part to relieve the state agency of denying budgets when local governments don’t properly publish budget hearing notices.

“I think they decided they didn’t want to be the bad guys and tell local entities that they would have to live with last year’s budget because they didn’t publish the notice correctly,” Key said.

Otherwise, one would have to buy the argument that placement of notices on a website that averages 2,258 unique visitors a week provides better notice than newspapers, which are read by 87 percent of Hoosiers, according to HSPA’s most recent readership survey.

The Department of Local Government Finance averages 24.5 visitors per county per week. Key said many legislators mistake special interest notice (notices that insiders know where to find) for public notice (notice put into the hands of Hoosiers).