Senate File 17 Could Strike Another Blow to State Newspapers

Senate File 17 Could Strike Another Blow to State Newspapers

Government entities across Wyoming may soon have the choice to post public notices online rather than using the mandated newspaper option if Senate File 17 passes the State Legislature.

CHEYENNE — A controversial bill which just passed out of committee in the Wyoming Senate could change the way government publications are posted in the state’s counties and towns.

Senate File 17 basically strikes language from the current state law which requires government publications to be posted in a newspaper of general circulation. It would allow town and county governments, school boards and other elected boards to publish their public records on their own websites, or a location of their choosing.

Wyoming District 12 Senator John Kolb told the Rock Springs City Council on Tuesday that the legislation is “a go” after passing out of the Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Interim Committee on a 4-1 vote.

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“Even people who own newspapers understand we’re living in the year 2021,” Kolb said, referring to the ease of public access for residents searching for public notifications.

Rock Springs Mayor Tim Kaumo said this “has been a long time coming” and that the argument began when newspapers were actually a daily event. He said the cost of publishing government records in a newspaper compared to posting them on a website is a factor in passing this legislation.

“We don’t want to leave out our senior citizens or those who might just want a paper,” Kaumo said. “But we don’t have a daily paper…and that comes at a cost of $25,000 to $40,000 depending on what takes place.”

Legal publications have long been a key source of revenue for Wyoming’s newspapers, particularly in smaller towns where there is not an abundance of local business.

Kaumo added that publishing notices online provides an opportunity for citizens to be informed much quicker, in an easier fashion, and at less expense to the governing entities. Kolb also said he supports SF0017 and will vote in favor of it when it comes up in the Senate.