What I am about to tell you is far more meaningful than it may appear at first glance. What I am about to tell you should deeply concern you, especially if you reside in LD 14–including Wilcox, Sierra Vista, Douglas, Bisbee, Tombstone, Benson, Vail, Elephant Head, Summerhaven, Cascabel, Redington, Aravaipa, Safford, Hannagan Meadow, Thatcher, Morenci, Clifton, Duncan, and Naco.
Two Arizona State Representatives, both from LD 14, are willfully and knowingly obstructing a bill that would reduce the stranglehold “big press” has on the minds of the people.
Reread that. Representative Becky Nutt (R) and Representative Drew John (R), both first-term legislators, have actively halted a bill that would allow Arizona’s alternative media to grow, including newspapers like the Arizona Daily Independent.
More staggeringly, this bill would give to the masses new and open access to an important, statutorily-required service, but these two elected officials (who will likely seek reelection in 2018) are content to keep that service out of access to the many.
House Bill 2013 is a simple, straightforward measure that would amend Arizona Revised Statutes Section 11-255 to remove one antiquated, arcane requirement: To carry public notices, a “newspaper” must fit the federal definition of second-class matter per the United States Postal Service, and must maintain that classification for at least one year. In other words, a new publication would have to find some Postal Service employee who even knows how to issue the obscure license for second-class mail, then would have to pay the “small sum” of $800 for that license, and then would have to sit on that license for a full year. And then the publication could carry public notices.
Bringing the law into the modern world, HB2013 would open public notices to the new generation of non-print newspapers like the ADI.
Understand that the legacy print media is struggling and losing foothold with its shrinking subscriber base. (If you need a reminder of that, read my column in yesterday’s ADI, “‘Fake News’ Shines on the Star’s Opinion Page”.) Some subscribe only to receive the sales circulars, and others subscribe to local rags such as the Star–the Pima County propaganda publication of record–because they actually believe the dung the County shovels. However, the law requires that certain legal actions follow ample public notice. Those notices serve those members of the public that the actions could aggrieve, affording those people adequate opportunity to respond and act. By continuing to require that these notices go into legacy print publications only, these two legislators seek to cut out their constituency from the benefit of these notices.
I reached out to both Representatives Nutt and John last week. Representative John has yet to respond to me, but Representative Nutt did provide a terse response that the bill has been held and will not proceed beyond committee. What she failed to indicate in her reply is that she herself is responsible for holding the bill in committee and preventing it from moving forward.
So these two new representatives are quite happy to keep the fee stream for public notices dripping into the shriveled veins of the dying, writhing, failing legacy print media. They refuse to make these notices even more widely available, perhaps even open at an instant to all who have an internet connection, even to those who aren’t paid subscribers to the publishing newspaper.
Yes, these two Republican representatives are aggressively supporting the legacy print media to the detriment of the alternative press. Yes, these two Republican representatives are propping up artificial barriers to a market. Yes, these two Republican representatives are knowingly stifling competition.
And no, the alternative media can’t sell the hotel on Marvin Gardens to buy its way into this monopoly.
Imagine if some of the innovative, hard-working new media outlets could supplement their subscriptions with the revenue of public notices, and thus expand their abilities to report, or to publish, or to serve their subscribers. HB2013 should, by all accounts, level the playing field for the alternative media.
But Representatives Nutt and John are protecting “big press” and thumbing their noses at you.
I’ve done my part in contacting them. Now it is your turn. Below you will find the email I sent Representative Nutt and her reply (the email I sent Representative John was substantially the same), as well as full contact information for both of them.
This is your homework assignment for today, in two parts:
1) Contact both of these representatives, and the representatives for your district, to ask for swift action to move HB2013 forward.
2) Subscribe to the Arizona Daily Independent to help show the strength in numbers of the alternative media, or start saving your pennies to subscribe just as soon as you can.
We need your help to ensure that HB2013 gets the fair treatment it deserves, and that you get the fair treatment you deserve, too.
Text of HB2013: https://apps.azleg.gov/BillStatus/GetDocumentPdf/445418
Representative Becky A. Nutt: http://www.azleg.gov/House/House-member/?legislature=53&session=117&legislator=1763
Representative Drew John: http://www.azleg.gov/House/House-member/?legislature=53&session=117&legislator=1762
Look up your Legislative District: http://azredistricting.org/districtlocator
Look up your Representatives: http://www.azleg.gov/memberroster/
(Note for those of you in LD11: Mark Finchem is one of your Representatives and is the sponsor of HB2013. Rather than asking him to support its swift movement through the legislative process, simply add your name to the list of constituents who support the bill, giving him more material with which to argue for the bill.)