Only one anti-public notice bill passes


Indiana lawmakers passed only one of six proposed anti-public notice advertising bills in the 2014 General Assembly.

The bill that got through, H.B. 1385, will allow storage facilities to forego publishing notices of abandoned-property sales.

They can advertise in any other “commercially reasonable” manner, according to the bill authored by State Rep. Mike Speedy and sponsored by State Sen. Scott Schneider, both Republicans representing Indianapolis.

HSPA assumes the advertising provision could include something as nondescript as a storage facility’s website.

With the options of a free web notification or paying a newspaper to publish a notice, newspapers should expect the notices to disappear from their pages, said Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel.

Negative public notice proposals that died in the session include:

• One that would have eliminated the requirement that out-of-state insurance companies publish statements of their financial condition in Indiana newspapers. The author, State Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, took that provision out of H.B. 1206 in conference committee.

• Another that would have eliminated the listing of properties in notices of county tax sales. State Rep. Tim Neese, R-Elkhart, did not give a hearing to H.B. 1101, authored by State Rep. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell.

• A bid to put free publications on equal status with newspapers in their eligibility to carry public notice advertising. State Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, did not give a hearing to H.B. 1033, authored by State Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel.

• Two other bills that would have eliminated the publication of local government budgets. A compromise between State Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, and State Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington, will preserve the requirement for one year.

This buys HSPA time to convince the General Assembly that the public would prefer the information be published in newspapers rather than posted on the state Department of Local Government Finance website.

Hershman had pushed for a two-year delay, while Leonard sought an immediate end to budget publication in H.B. 1266 and S.B. 367. The one-year delay was their compromise in H.B. 1266, and they removed the language from the Senate bill. The legislators authored the two bills at the request of the state Department of Local Government Finance.