PSATS Supports “Transparency in Mandated Advertising Act” Effort

        As Sunshine Week concludes, the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) applauds the sponsors of this sunshine initiative to require newspapers disclose the cost incurred by local governments due to mandatory legal advertising and posting of public notices. PSATS is also asking its township members and the public to contact their senators to co-sponsor this legislation. Sunshine Week is a week when newspapers across the nation celebrate and advocate for transparency in government.

                “I think every local government will agree, Pennsylvania’s legal advertising mandate for is stuck in the last century,” PSATS executive director Dave Sanko said. “The way people get their news and information has changed dramatically in recent years, but not the law, resulting in precious local dollars being spent on advertising nobody sees.”

                Senators Ryan Aumont (Lancaster) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (York) announced yesterday forthcoming legislation to require newspapers to disclose the cost incurred by local governments due to mandatory legal advertising and posting of public notices. The legislation would bring transparency for the residents of townships, other local governments, and school districts by showing the cost of publishing the mandated newspaper advertisements.

                Sanko noted that current Pennsylvania law requires local government entities to inform the public about meetings and other important information through legal advertisements specifically placed in print editions of newspapers, despite the general decline of newspapers in the state. In fact, many newspapers have shut down or don’t publish regularly.

                “These mandates are costing communities needed money, and really limit public access to information.  This legislation will help start the process and we’re asking township members to contact their senators to sign-on to this effort,” Sanko said. “We need to modernize the law to ensure public notices are where people will actually see them by providing additional advertising options to reach a wider audience, including advertising on township websites and in community papers.”

                PSATS represents Pennsylvania’s 1,454 townships of the second class and is committed to preserving and strengthening township government and securing greater visibility and involvement for townships in the state and federal political arenas. Townships of the second class cover 95% of Pennsylvania’s land mass and represent more residents — 5.7 million — more than any other type of municipality in the commonwealth.

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