Potential Seen by County Officials for Dropping Legal Advertising

Potential Seen by County Officials for Dropping Legal Advertising



The annual skirmish between local governments in Virginia and the state’s newspaper industry is now in full swing. Arlington officials this time say that the localities are likely to break tradition and win this round.

Virginia’s cities, towns, and counties have long coveted the elimination of rules which require them to place paid legal ads in newspapers when taking action on zoning changes, holding meetings, as well as other official issues. However, the General Assembly has resisted in allowing them to crawl out of the requirement.

It is a legislative skirmish that pits the Virginia Municipal League and Virginia Association of Counties on one side and the Virginia Press Association on the opposite end. Through the years, it has been the latter that came out victorious.

County Board member Jay Fisette has acknowledged that the dispute is going nowhere. With the departure of Barbara Favola to the state Senate, Fisette has become the liaison of the board on state-government affairs.

Local governments claim that the advent of the Internet makes it both costly and unnecessary to require them to post legal advertisements in the newspapers. The newspaper industry responded to the claim, saying that the publication of legal advertisements benefits the communities and maintains transparency in localities.

Last year, County Board member Chris Zimmerman advocated for a stronger effort by localities to exit from under the regulations. However, then-state Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple quickly hushed Zimmerman, saying that any such measure would die under vigorous opposition from newspaper publishers.