New Publication Law Takes Effect This Month

Here is some information on HB 534, passed and signed into law this past session (2023).

Background: Just for background, and covered in the old language in this bill, local governments are allowed to post required advertisements online on a “notice website” that they operate. This can be a page on their website but still requires that the local government publish a newspaper advertisement directing the public where to access the full advertisement.

Updates/Changes: House Bill 534 kept the old notice requirement language but gave local governments another option to provide public notice of the local government “notice website.” Now publication of that notice can take place on/in a digital newspaper as long as certain qualifications are met.

The Conditions:

The digital newspaper must:

(a) Maintain an active news-gathering office in the publication area;

(b) Have been actively publishing for at least one year and be updated on at least a weekly basis;

(c) Have as its primary purpose reporting on matters of import to the public and contain regular reporting regarding local and community issues in the publication area;

(d) Be easily accessible to the public through common Internet search engines or other Internet search means;

(e) Contain conspicuous links or headings on its landing page that direct members of the public to public notices; and

(f) Distribute or have an ownership interest in another entity that distributes newspapers printed in Kentucky and is capable of circulating printed newspapers throughout the publication area. For purposes of satisfying the publication requirements of this chapter, an advertisement is deemed to be published on the date that it is posted on the website of the digital newspaper.

Another Note on Electronic Publication: Any other statutes related to the publication requirements used on traditional print, such as the physical dimensions, typesetting, font, or other aspects particular to a printed newspaper, are not applicable when the advertisement is made in a digital newspaper.

Background: The origin of this change came as a result of – to change publication requirements after the Enquirer closed its NKY offices. Link has updated the heading of their home page to add a Public Notices tab, and it appears to meet all of the conditions listed in the bill.

Effective Date: This bill did not contain an emergency clause and, therefore, will go into effect on Thursday, June 29.