From the Legal Hotline (1-877-NEWS-LAW)

From the Legal Hotline (1-877-NEWS-LAW)

Q. What are the current rules surrounding publishing our statement of ownership? I know a few years ago a new requirement was passed by the Legislature that required publishing this somewhere in the paper. Is this still a requirement? Are there any other similar notice requirements?

A. The short answer is that the statement of ownership and other similar requirements relating to auditors and permits are no longer in the law. The long answer is that in 2021, the legislature passed a law (HB 35) that included the following language regarding the statement of ownership and other notice requirements–

Continually publishes in a prominent manner the name, street address, phone number, website URL of the newspaper’s approved print auditor, the newspaper’s most recent statement of ownership, and a statement of the auditor certifying the veracity of the newspaper’s print distribution and the number of the newspaper’s website’s monthly unique visitors, or the newspaper’s periodicals permit, if applicable, within the first five pages of the print edition and the bottom portion of the homepage of the newspaper’s website.

This language did not last long–the next year it was repealed by the Legislature. As a result, there is currently no requirement about placement of a statement of ownership under Florida law. Further, there is no requirement to publish information related to the address of the paper’s auditor or the auditor’s statement certifying its audience, or its periodicals permit. Of course, this information may still be provided in full or in part, but it is not mandatory.

Q. Do you have information about legislative changes regarding towing companies not having to publish legals any longer? We’ve heard something from a couple of our customers, but we are unclear what may have been passed,

A. HB 179 passed with language taking out the newspaper notice, despite our and our allies many efforts throughout Session opposing it. It was later approved by the Governor, and it goes into effect July 1.

In place of newspaper notice, the bill language requires that notice must be on a publicly available website maintained by an approved third-party service and the third-party service must electronically report to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, via an electronic data exchange process using a web interface, the listed information. The third-party service may collect and retain a service charge of no more than $1. These third-party services include Auto Data Direct and Beacon Software–according to the bill’s staff analysis and the Department link it cites to:

Q. I had a question from a client today about if we follow state statue s. 50.061 for the amount we charge for our legal notices. I remember we talked about this before but I don’t remember the answer. They were asking if we charge 70 cents per square inch for the first insertion and 40 cents per square inch for second insertion. I told the potential client we are in compliance with statute 50.061 but then she specifically started quoting those rates and I still said yes – but wanted to confirm.

A. Yes, that provision allows you to charge your “regular established minimum commercial rate” if it is in excess of the cents per square inch rates.