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Newspaper execs fight proposed legal notice change

February 6, 2014

PROVIDENCE — A Chafee administration plan to allow the state and cities and town to post legal notices on the Internet rather than advertising them in local newspapers ran into opposition Thursday from people who said that while the Internet is indeed gaining in popularity, not everyone is using it and that newspapers provide a service by putting important information right in front of people instead of forcing them to hunt through cyberspace for it.

Current state law requires that 250 different kinds of legal notices – everything from announcing meetings of public bodies to publicizing proposed zoning changes to mortgage foreclosures – be advertised in local newspapers of general circulation.

Peter Marino, the director of the state Office of Management and Budget, told the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday that more and more people own computers and have access to the Internet, and they are using it to engage with government agencies at the state and local level.

He noted that the provision, part of the 2015 state budget, allows the state and municipalities to stop taking out newspaper ads, but does not mandate Internet-only notices.

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