Call your legislators to protect your right to know
If Assembly Bill 70, Senate Bill 42 and the Governor’s Budget as currently written are approved by the Wisconsin Legislature, school boards, city councils, village boards and county boards will no longer be required to print a summary of their actions in your local newspaper and on the statewide public notice website, www.WisconsinPublicNotices.org.
What do these bills do?
Under these proposals, local municipalities would no longer be required to publish meeting minutes in the local newspaper, giving them the option to post the information on their own website instead. It's bad public policy that takes away third-party oversight of what your government is doing. The public notice process exists to hold YOUR elected officials accountable.
Who's doing this, and why?
This legislation is being pushed by statewide associations that represent units of local government in Wisconsin. According to the bills' sponsors, "Having meeting minutes in one electronic searchable location on a website allows for greater access for everyone (not just newspaper subscribers) and cost savings for taxpayers through school districts, municipalities, tech colleges, and counties. In our digital age, this is an unnecessary expense."
Here are the facts
Wisconsin newspapers already provide "one electronic searchable location" for all public notices.
In fact, all legal notices published throughout the state since 2005 are available for free to the public through WisconsinPublicNotices.org. This comprehensive, searchable website hosted by the Wisconsin newspaper industry brings together ink-on-paper notices into one online location. This public service is provided at no cost to local municipalities.
The goal of WisconsinPublicNotices.org is to enhance government’s distribution of public information and assist citizens who want to know more about the actions of their local, county and state representatives. This permanent, third-party documentation – unalterable and independent of government itself – ensures the protection of “your right to know” for each and every citizen.
For years, this relationship between newspapers, local municipalities and WisconsinPublicNotices.org has successfully provided easy access to government information for all citizens, whether they seek it in print or online. Removing existing publication requirements would create holes in this invaluable statewide database while also neglecting the needs of those who lack adequate computer and internet access.