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Michigan Lawmakers look to change legal notice policies

Legal notices are currently published in newspapers by law
Morgue File
Legal notices are currently published in newspapers by law

On Thursday, members of the Michigan State House Committee will discuss two bills that could change how cities and townships publicize legal notices such as public hearings and foreclosures. 

Current laws require all legal notices to be published in local newspapers. But these bills would allow local governments to post the information on their own websites or an online newspaper. Other options include broadcasting the notices on a radio or television station.

Representative Douglas Geiss is the sponsor of one of the bills. He says it’s time for a 21st century update:

“Forms of communication have changed and I believe that we can fully meet our requirements to be transparent in what we do while also being fiscally responsible. ”

Geiss said people could also subscribe to receive physical or electronic copies of the notices.

Mike MacLaren is the Executive Director of the Michigan Press Association. He says a third party should be responsible for posting legal notices:

“You do not have proof that those notices were in fact published when the unit of government says they’re being published. And furthermore, government’s shouldn’t be responsible for something like this, that’s something that some third party needs to oversee and administer. ”

You can read more about House Bill 4319 (Cities) and House Bill 4117 (Townships) online.

Another legal notice bill is in the State Senate, Senate Bill 163. This bill would expand the definition of newspaper to include online publications that were formerly printed.

-Bridget Bodnar, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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