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County changes vote on public notices

Removing a sentence from a resolution was central to Douglas County Commissioner Dan Olson flipping his support for a resolution he voted against two weeks ago.

During Tuesday’s county board meeting, commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of a resolution that supports proposed legislation that would “allow counties to publish certain public notices on their websites instead of, or in addition to, in an official newspaper.”

Just two weeks ago, during their February 4 meeting, commissioners voted 2-3, failing to support the resolution.

The only difference this time was one sentence that was removed from the resolution presented Tuesday – “…utilizing county websites to publish public notices would eliminate the time and costly burden of publishing in newspapers…”

After the vote failed during the February 4 meeting, Olson told fellow commissioners: “I wouldn’t mind having this resolution brought back again…if we strike that one sentence… If that one sentence is struck, I could more easily support it.”

On Tuesday, the other four commissioners stuck with their initial votes – Bev Bales and Jerry Johnson voted for the resolution and Jim Stratton and Charlie Meyer voted against it.

Echo Press Editor Al Edenloff told the county board Tuesday, “Having a printed, permanent record of public notices, maintained by a source that’s independent of any government interference, is crucial to ensuring that information is not changed after the fact.”

Bales reiterated that it would be up to each county to determine if they would continue printing public notices in local newspapers.

Olson said as long as the option to publish in the newspaper is still available, he supports the resolution.

The proposed legislation (House File 1286 and Senate File 1152) are scheduled to be introduced in the state House and Senate the first week in March. The Minnesota Legislature convenes February 25.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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