Bill Summary for S 343 (2017-2018)

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Summary date: 

Jun 19 2017

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2017-2018 Session
Senate Bill 343 (Public) Filed Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Intro. by Wade, Meredith, Bishop.

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Bill summary

House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 1st edition.

Amends the long and short titles.

Deletes all provisions of the 1st edition and replaces it with the following.

Amend GS Chapter 1, Article 50, as follows:

Amends GS 1-596 (Charges for legal advertising). Deletes the provision prohibiting newspapers from accepting or printing legal advertising until the newspaper has filed a statement of its current commercial rate with the clerk of superior court of the county in which it is published, and making violation of the provision a Class 1 misdemeanor. Provides that when a notice is required by statute to be published by a unit of government more than once and is paid for by the unit of government and the cost of publication is not paid in advance by or allowed to be recouped from private parties, the unit of government cannot be charged for the second and successive publications of that notice at a rate greater than 85% of the rate charged for the first publication in the series.

Amends GS 1-597. Amends the caption to read "Requirements for newspaper to be eligible to publish legal notices, advertisements, etc." Deletes all current required qualifications for a newspaper to publish listed legal notices or advertisements, and replaces them as follows: requires a newspaper to (1) have a content that appeals to the public generally, (2) have at least 100 paid subscribers, and distribute at least 1,000 copies per issue in the county where the newspaper seeks qualification, (3) have a paid subscriber distribution not entirely limited geographically to one community or section of the county where the newspaper seeks qualification, (4) be available for subscription by any person who wishes to do so in the county where the newspaper seeks qualification, and (5) have regularly and continuously published for at least one day in each calendar week for at least 50 of the 52 consecutive weeks immediately preceding the date of the application. Requires the owner, publisher, or other authorized officer or employee of a newspaper to submit to the Clerk of Superior Court of that county a sworn affidavit that the newspaper meets all the criteria, and $500, prior to publishing any of the listed legal notices or advertisements. Authorizes a newspaper to qualify in more than one county, but requires a separate application and fee for each county. Once the affidavit and fee are submitted, the newspaper is qualified to publish in that county any of the listed legal notices or advertisements, and remains qualified so long as the newspaper continues to meet the listed qualifications, and pays an annual $100 renewal fee to the Clerk of superior Court in each county in which the newspaper wishes to remain qualified. Authorizes Superior Court judges to disqualify a newspaper from publishing any of the listed legal notices and advertisements by court order. Directs the Clerk of Superior Court to remit, at least monthly, to the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts the affidavits filed and fees collected under this statute. Directs the Director to keep an index of all such affidavits and fees, as specified, which are a public record.

Enacts new GS 1-597.5 (Requirements for electronic publication). Requires a newspaper that maintains a website, displaying the contents of the newspaper, to place each notice on that website on the same day that the notice appears in the print newspaper, at no additional cost. Provides five requirements for the online display, including that a hyperlink to legal notices be provided on the front page of the website that provides access to the notices without charge. Directs newspapers that publish notices to provide email notification, without charge, to a person who requests such notification when such notices are printed in the newspaper or added to the newspaper's website. This email notification is only required for the initial publication of a notice that is required to be published more than once. Provides that an error in the placement of a government legal notice on a website or delivery of an email notification is considered a harmless error. The requirement of proper legal notice is deemed to have been met if the notice is properly published in the print edition of the newspaper. Willful violation of the email requirement by an owner or manger of a newspaper is a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Amends GS 1-598. Amends caption to read, "Sworn statement prima facie evidence of qualifications; affidavit of publication by a newspaper." Makes an organizational change.

Repeals GS 1-599 (Application of two preceding sections).

Enacts new GS 1-600.5 (Procedure when no newspaper is qualified in a county). Provides that legal notices or ads required or authorized to be published in a newspaper, when no newspaper is qualified in the county of publication, may be published in a qualifying newspaper in an adjoining county, or another county in the same judicial district or set of districts. Such publication is deemed sufficient compliance.

Repeals GS 1-601 (Certain legal advertisements validated).

Amends GS 45-21.17(1), which sets out the requirements for the posting of the notice of sale of real property that are in addition to complying with the provisions contained in the security instrument. Requires the notice to be published weekly for at least two successive weeks in a newspaper qualified for legal advertising pursuant to GS 1-597 in the county where the property is situated, providing that if no newspaper is qualified in that county, then the notice must be published weekly for at least two successive weeks in accordance with GS 1-600.5. Removes the authority of the clerk to authorize additional advertisement in his discretion or upon application of any interested party and subsequently permit the charges for further advertisement to be taxes as part of the costs of foreclosure. Effective October 1, 2017, and applies to notices that must be published on or after that date.

Amends GS 97-2(2), setting out the definition of employee in the Workersäó» Compensation Act. Removes language creating a rebuttable presumption that the term does not include any person performing services in the sale of newspapers or magazines to ultimate consumers under an agreement where the newspapers or magazines are to be sold by that person at a fixed price and the personäó»s compensation is based on the retention of the excess of the fixed price over the amount at which the newspapers or magazines are charged to the person.

Authorizes the board of county commissioners of Buncombe, Durham, Forsyth, and Guildford counties to adopt an ordinance establishing their county website as the central location for publishing or advertising legal notices so long as the county maintains its own website with sufficient staff to maintain it, and the county has sufficient staff to complete affidavits as needed for all legal notices. Adds that adoption of the ordinance is at the discretion of the board of county commissioners of each county.

Authorizes publication of any notice permitted or required by law to be published in a newspaper to be accomplished by contracting with a county who has adopted an ordinance in accordance with the previous provision to publish the notice on the county-maintained website in lieu of publishing in a newspaper in accordance with Article 50 of GS Chapter 1. Provides that any sworn written statement by a county employee stating that the county place a notice, paper, document or legal advertisement within the meaning of GS 1-597 on its website must be received in all state courts as prima facie evidence that the county placed the notice, paper, document or legal advertisement on its website for the stated period of time. When the sworn statement is filed with the clerk of the superior court of that county, the statement is deemed a record of the court, and when duly certified by the clerk becomes prima facie evidence that the county placed the notice, paper, document, or legal advertisement on its website for the stated period of time. Provides that when a statute or written instrument requires the advertisement of a sale to be made for a certain number of weeks, publication on the county website in accordance with the above provisions for the indicated number of weeks is a sufficient compliance with the requirement. Effective October 1, 2017, and expires December 31, 2019.

Clarifies that the validation of any publication, advertisement, or notice pursuant to a previous enactment of GS 1-597 remains in effect and is not affected by the modifications made by this act.