Bill called ‘Christie attack on media’ moves ahead

New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday cleared the way for the Democrat-led Assembly and Senate to vote on legislation to kill a requirement that local governments publish legal notices for public meetings and other business in newspapers.

Supporters of the bill say it would save municipalities money by not paying for the advertising costs.

But opponents of the bill say it will cost the newspaper industry up to 300 jobs in New Jersey. They also argue that not everyone has internet access and all New Jersey citizens are entitled to know about public action and meetings. 

For New Jersey to be the first state to allow for governments to fulfill its legal notices on their own websites has many concerned on the transparency front, says NJ Press Association Executive Director George White.

Sal Rizzo, political reporter for The Record, says that it is important for a third party to be in charge of publishing these notices so that the municipalities can't pick and choose which ones to publish.

A spokesperson for Gov. Chris Christie says, "The proposed legislation provides property tax relief to taxpayers and opens competition by providing municipalities the option to post notices online or have them published. The market will dictate where notices are posted."

Newspapers and political opponents say Christie is targeting media organizations because of what he views as negative coverage of him.

The measure could come for a vote and then head to Republican Gov. Chris Christie's desk for a signature as soon as Monday.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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