Miner Editorial | Bill to take public meeting notices out of papers is a mistake

If you really, really like the idea of big government and think it is more efficient and cost-effective than private business, State Sen. John Kavanagh has a bill for you.

Kavanagh, a Fountain Hills Republican who spends a great deal of effort espousing the virtues of small government, is continuing his decade-long push to remove newspaper publication requirements for cities and towns. His proposal, which has made it through two Senate committees, would allow notices of elections, invitations for bids, notices of letting contracts and updates to laws and ordinances to be published on the city or town’s own website.

It’s a clear case of allowing the fox to guard the hen house.

There have been too many political scandals during the past few years (think Bell, California and Flint, Michigan) and there is no reason to trust that public officials can police themselves. Why make it easier for government to operate in the dark?

Local taxpayers need Sen. Sonny Borrelli and other responsible legislators to keep this bill from becoming law. It requires his intervention soon – the bill, SB1006, is on the Legislature’s committee of the whole calendar for Monday. That means it’s well on its way to a third read and a vote by the entire legislative body.

The government created public notice requirements to avoid the impression of back-room deals and shady bidding.

Printed public notices are unalterable and forever verifiable. Government should not be in the business of disseminating public notices. Many officials at all levels of government are averse to responding to even routine public records requests. If government is allowed to handle their own notices, get ready for hassles, delays and hefty “administrative fees” to research and print copies of an ad.

It’s important to note that in many communities like Kingman public notices in printed newspapers will reach far more people than a local government website. Many local newspapers operate the largest websites in their communities, with an audience reach that dwarfs that of a local city or town.

Kavanagh’s bill creates bigger government and will likely kill private sector jobs. Both of these scenarios run counter to conservative ideals and values. Arizona needs real Republicans to step up and guard the public’s interest.

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