The Counties & Townships Committee of the Illinois House voted HB261 down 6-5 on March 12. The bill would have government units publish meeting schedules, tax deeds, estate claims and other information on their own websites; rather than requiring them to post public notices electronically (at no cost) — on a statewide website maintained by the Illinois Press Association, PublicNoticeIllinois.com. The bill is sponsored by three representatives: Joe Sosnowski of Belvidere, Tom Demmer of Dixon , and Ron Sandack of Downers Grove. The INBA sent the following letter opposing the bill and recommending an alternative:
The Honorable Eddie Lee Jackson Sr.
Chair, Counties & Townships Committee
Illinois House of Representatives
200-7S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Via fax: 217-782-8794
Dear Rep. Jackson:
The Illinois News Broadcasters Association (INBA), an organization of nearly 200 broadcast and electronic journalists, journalism educators and students, would like to register its opposition to House Bill 261 as currently written.
Our goal is transparent and open government in Illinois, and we believe that if enacted, HB 261 would work to its detriment.
There may be a small savings in the cost of running newspaper ads if HB 261 were enacted, but we believe the loss in transparency would far outweigh any perceived savings. Currently, notice also is required to be posted on a statewide Web site. That, too, would be dropped in the revision HB 261 proposes and is perhaps the most glaring mistake.
INBA recognizes that online communication has made quantum strides in recent years, but it is disingenuous to assume that one person can visit all the potential sites that would be of interest. The statewide Web site, especially, makes it easier for both journalists and interested members of the public to be advised when matters of interest are to be discussed
INBA instead would like to propose a system in which notice and agendas are published on the public body’s Web site and on a statewide Web site. We would ask the committee to reject HB261 as written.