Feb 15, 2023 - News

Arkansas House bill could reduce government transparency

Photo illustration of newspaper cut-outs shaped like bursts and arrows pointing in varying directions

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photos: FPG, Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images

The Arkansas House of Representatives advanced a bill that would change a current law requiring publication of delinquent tax, election, ordinance and financial notices in local newspapers.

  • The information would instead be published on government websites, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
  • Other legal notices, solicitations for bids and foreclosures would go unaffected.

Why it matters: Supporters say the move would increase public access to information and save local jurisdictions money by not having to pay newspapers to publish the text.

  • Opponents claim it will reduce government transparency by relying on local officials to post notices and by dispersing data across the web.

Threat level: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Arkansas Press Association oppose the bill, citing decreased government transparency.

  • Legal notices of all types are a source of income for local newspapers. Diminishing revenue for small, local papers could create more news deserts.

What they're saying: "These are the things we need to keep local newspapers alive and to prevent the continuation of news deserts throughout the state and the nation," Sonny Elliott told the Democrat-Gazette.

What's next: The bill will be discussed today by the House Committee on City, County and Local Affairs.


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