Nevada Bill by Which Newspapers Will Lose Money Goes to Governor

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The Nevada Senate voted Monday to give final legislative approval to a bill to let officials around Nevada publish an annual list of property taxpayers and their property values on an Internet Web site rather than in local newspapers.

AB307, now going to Gov. Jim Gibbons, started out as a proposal that would apply only in Washoe and Clark counties, Nevada’s population centers, but was amended to include all counties. Besides the property tax information, the measure also applies to lists of delinquent taxpayers.

If Gibbons signs the bill, newspapers in the state will lose a lucrative revenue source. Newspapers have already been struggling with declining advertising revenue and have cut staff and pages from their papers.

Assemblyman Paul Aizley, D-Las Vegas, sponsor of AB307, said Clark County spends over $500,000 a year to print property tax rolls in the newspaper. Washoe County spends about $70,000 a year. He said money and paper can be saved by allowing jurisdictions to publish information on their Web sites.

During hearings on the measure, Barry Smith, executive director of the Nevada Press Association, said the law change would diminish public access, especially for elderly, minorities and low-income households with less access to the Internet.

Smith said he counted over 300 state and local agencies in Nevada that have their own Web sites, adding that while the Web sites are helpful, they become “a maze of ‘where do I go to find what?'”

Smith also argued that newspapers often make sure that these public notices are printed, and take government entities to court if they fail to comply.

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