(Tony Sifert, Headline USA) Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed legislation ending a requirement that the government must post certain public notices in local newspapers, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
House Bill 7049 allows the government to publish legal notices on “publicly accessible” websites rather than in newspapers, which opponents say is an attack on an important media revenue stream.
“The free press here in the free state of Florida isn’t reporting what the governor’s communications director wants it to report,” Democrat Sen. Gary Farmer said.
Another state senator suggested that DeSantis wanted to use the legislation to hide important information from the public.
“If I wanted to hide something from the public that’s required to be noticed, this is exactly the process I would use,” Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes said. “I would throw it on one of 67 different websites.”
But DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, applauded the decision.
WIN. Florida taxpayers should not be subsidizing fake news media. https://t.co/0HbdXhpKip
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) May 10, 2022
“WIN,” she wrote. “Florida taxpayers should not be subsidizing fake news media.”
Rep. Randy Fine, a sponsor of the bill, tweeted his support for DeSantis.
“For those who have asked me why print newspapers have targeted me in recent weeks, it’s because they feared this day,” Fine wrote. “They should have.”
In comments during a debate on the bill, Fine “said the bill was not an attack on the press, but instead removed government subsidies from local newspapers.”
He also argued that the bill would prevent newspapers from being unduly influenced by local government, according to Florida Politics.
Florida’s largest newspapers stand to lose “hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal notice revenue this year” as a result of the bill, according to the Tampa Bay Times.