Call to arms: Your independent access to important information threatened by bill in Florida Senate, House

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How do you find out about any possible increases in your property taxes?

You read your local newspaper.

Where do you look to find out what happened during a county commission, school board or zoning committees meeting?

You read your local newspaper.

Where will you learn where your children will go to school next year?

You read your local newspaper.

If Florida Sen. Joe Gruters, a Republican from Sarasota and Charlotte counties, has his way, you will lose that independent access to legal notices.

Senate Bill 1340 will be heard on Tuesday at the Judiciary Committee’s meeting. Meanwhile, the House’s companion bill, HB 7, already has passed through committees and will be heard on the House floor.

State law requires each county to post its legal notices with a local publication with paid subscriptions. If SB 1340 and HB 7 are passed, counties no longer would be required to post legal notices or they could hide them on their own website.

That means no oversight to the issues that affect all of us.

When legal notices are printed in Clay Today, they also are posted on our website, claytodayonline.com. Notices are a slice of the news and features you expect from a publication dedicated solely to the county where we live, play, shop, pray and learn.

If passed, the only way to find legal information would be a separate search at the various county websites. In short, you have to know there may be available information that may affect your taxes, schools, roads and meetings. Notices will only be read by people who are looking for them. You have to know to look and where to look.

And how are you going to know that?

You read your local newspaper. Notices there are easy to find and can be read by people who are looking at other stories. Also, newspapers must provide email notifications of new legal notices when they are printed and added to the newspaper’s website.

Traffic at newspaper websites is generally more than 10 times greater than traffic on a county website and newspaper websites are much easier to navigate. Moreover, more than 7.5 million people read paid weekly and daily newspapers each week in Florida.

Since we support the easy access to the important information that affects our community, we adamantly oppose SB 1340 and HB 7. We hope you join us and contact our local representatives, Sen. Rob Bradley at (904) 278-2085 and Rep. Travis Cummings at (904) 278-5761.

Your ability to easily find important information is at stake.

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