HSPA following four bills in addition to H.B. 1498 challenging public notice requirement in newspapers


In addition to H.B. 1498, HSPA is dealing with four other public notice bills in the 2021 General Assembly.

S.B. 332, authored by Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, would impact all public notices that currently require publication more than once in local newspapers. Those notice requirements would change to once in print and the subsequent notices on government websites.

As with H.B. 1498, HSPA testified in committee on its intent to propose a public notice policy of the future this summer to the legislative caucus leaders.

S.B. 332 was passed out of the Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Buck, with a 7-2 vote. Voting against it were Sens. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn; and Mike Bohacek, R-Michigan City. As of Feb. 12, it was awaiting floor action in the Senate.

S.B. 409, authored by Sen. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell. This bill originally would have eliminated the publication of the annual financial report of townships. HSPA had a meeting with Rep. Niemeyer who explained that what he intended was to eliminate from the abstract the listing of all payments made by townships. This is a requirement not shared by any other public agency that publishes an annual report and can create additional cost for townships that have more activity and this more payments to list.

HSPA said it could support the bill if Niemeyer amended the bill to match his intent. HSPA couldn’t argue for a township specific requirement different from all other local government units.
S.B. 409 was passed out of the Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, on a 8-0 vote. As of Feb. 12, it was awaiting floor action.

S.B. 188, authored by Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford. This bill would eliminate the publication of unclaimed property lists by the state Attorney General in local newspapers. The publication would be replaced by a small twice-a-year notice of the AG’s contact information for the program. The language comes from a national uniform code commission model.

HSPA expressed its opposition to the change, pointing out the success of the publication of the lists. Amy Hendrix, director of unclaimed property in the AG’s office, testified in committee that Indiana returns 64% of the unclaimed property back to Hoosiers, while the national average is only 48%.

HSPA is waiting on a decision by Rep. Koch about an amendment to S.B. 188 that would preserve the publication requirement. That decision was expected this week.

H.B. 1395, authored by Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, includes a provision that would allow the Department of Natural Resources to eliminate the publication requirement of notices of new rules – replacing the publication requirement with posting “electronically.”

HSPA reached out to Rep. Eberhart to discuss the provision in this DNR bill. David Bausman of the DNR responded and explained that the intent was to save money on the publication of the Rules. They clarified that the impact would only be to eight or 10 rules a year based on past experience. HSPA asked for an example of such a publication to see whether it could suggest a compromise that would reduce the size of the publication.