Dear Gov. Rauner:
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, which reports to you, wants to move its notices from statewide newspapers to their website. A legislative group, The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, is considering whether to object to these rules.
Here’s why this change is not a good idea:
• These important notices are going to be missed by a large number of citizens. The total yearly circulation for Illinois newspapers exceeds 482 million while the agency’s website has just over 900,000 in annual hits.
• The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has opposed legislation removing public notices from newspapers, for good reason. Many citizens, including the elderly, rural residents and minorities do not have practical access to the internet. Not everyone has gone digital.
• This newspaper and the Illinois Press Association backed a new law requiring all newspapers to post all public notices on a centralized, statewide website, PublicNoticeIllinois.com, at no cost to the taxpayers. This is the only such statewide website. That is a much better solution.
• Let’s face it: Government websites are not in the business of generating readership with interesting content, as newspapers are.
The EPA deals with vital matters of public health and safety; its notices need to be loud and clear throughout the state.