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Commonwealth's Counties

Helpful public notice bill referred back to committee again; topic to be further studied

Despite favorably reporting from the House Counties, Cities, and Towns Committee twice, legislators have elected to send HB 2114 (Ransone) back to Committee – for a second time – so that the issue can be further studied.

HB 2114 provides that in any instance in which a locality has submitted a timely notice of public hearing to a newspaper published or having general circulation in the locality and the newspaper fails to publish the notice, such locality shall be deemed to have met certain notice requirements so long as the notice was published in the next available edition.

The provisions of HB 2114 do not circumvent any public notice requirements. This bill only allows a hearing to go forward if the locality has already followed all relevant public notice requirements and the newspaper inadvertently failed to publish the hearing notice.  Furthermore, current law already allows this for the 17 localities (including six counties) located in Planning District 23 – HB 2214 simply expands this authority to all localities in the Commonwealth.

HB 2114 was initially reported from the House Counties, Cities and Towns Committee by a vote of 17-4, but it was sent back to the Committee on January 26.  That Committee took up the bill again on January 29, when members debated killing the bill in favor of a study.  Proponents of the bill, however, noted that this topic had already been thoroughly examined by all relevant parties in the legislative offseason, and consensus on this initiative had been reached prior to the bill’s introduction.  Ultimately, HB 2114 once again reported out of the Committee to the full House by a vote of 13-8.

Despite succeeded in committee twice, legislators argued on the House floor on February 3 that this bill should not proceed and instead should be studied further by all relevant stakeholders after the legislative session concludes.  Accordingly, by a voice vote, the House narrowly rereferred the bill to Committee.

VACo is deeply grateful to Delegate Margaret Ransone for introducing this important legislation.  VACo is further appreciative to have developed this consensus bill the Virginia Press Association.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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