The Final Report of the Interim Committee on Government recommends that the legislature continue to require cities and towns to publish an annual financial report. The vote called Wednesday, Oct. 3 by committee chair Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, was unanimous.
The report did add that “more ways should be explored to disseminate public information, including financial information” and that “a variety of media (including print media) should be used to disseminate public information so that the information disseminated is more relevant and useful to taxpayers.”
Hoosier State Press Association Executive Director and General Counsel Steve Key called the report a victory for Hoosiers who have indicated time after time that they want public notices published in local newspapers even if it costs the public agency thousands of dollars over the year to publish.
“The committee listened to testimony on the issue and clearly felt publication of notices remains the best way to inform Hoosiers of actions taken and contemplated by government officials.”
— Steve Key, Hoosier State Press Association Executive Director and General Counsel
“Citizens never push these efforts to eliminate public notice advertising – it originates with public officials who generally want to free themselves from the work involved to get the text of the notice to the newspaper in a timely manner, collect proof of publication from the newspaper and pay the newspaper for the publication,” Key said.
Key and HSPA President Chuck Wells, who also is group publisher for AIM Indiana headquartered in Columbus, testified in favor of continued publication of public notices during the Committee’s hearing in August. Zachary Baiel, president of the Indiana Coalition for Open Government, and Patsy Hoyer, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Indiana, also testified in favor of newspaper publication of government public notices.
Rhonda Cook of Accelerate Indiana Municipalities testified before the committee in favor of eliminating the publication of the financial reports during the Committee’s September hearing.
Not all, but the majority of the state legislators on the interim committee spoke in favor of the newspaper publication of notices as better than posting on government websites.
Key said the report will be useful during the 2019 Indiana General Assembly as a tool to fight legislation filed to eliminate publication of public notices.
“The committee listened to testimony on the issue and clearly felt publication of notices remains the best way to inform Hoosiers of actions taken and contemplated by government officials,” Key said.