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FAQ’s: Public Notices

Question: What happens if my newspaper doesn’t comply with the new law?
Answer: It is a misdemeanor to not comply with the amounts chargeable section and noncompliant notices may be challenged by third parties seeking to defeat the underlying action.


Question: I don’t know how to upload my notices to www.floridapublicnotices.com. How do I get started?
Answer: Contact Column via email at info@column.us.


Question: How do I know if my newspaper qualifies to publish public notices?
Answer: For the vast majority of notices, newspapers must have a current Periodicals Permit as issued by the United States Postal Service. (This was previously known as the Second Class Mailing Permit.)


Question: How can my newspaper get a Periodicals Permit?
Answer: You must comply with the specific requirements of the postal service. The basic requirements are: to have been in business for one year; publish at a minimum on a weekly basis; have at least 25% news content and a list of paid subscribers (or requestors).


Question: Do we only have to upload government legals, and then only government legals that are not ultimately being paid by another entity?
Answer: No, you will need to upload all legal notices published in your newspaper to FPA’s floridapublicnotices.com website.


Question: If a government runs a standard ad, like a help wanted, that doesn’t count as a “legal ad” does it?
Answer: Right, government help wanted ads are not traditional legal notices that a government must place in newspapers pursuant to Chapter 50—unless there is a particular requirement that they do so. (Legal notices usually describe some form of official action being taken by the governmental entity itself that affects the public.)


Question: I need help in clarifying the email notification requirement of the public notice law.  The document states we must notify anyone that has requested information on new legal notices when they publish and that the registry is to be set up on the legals page.  I am uncertain as to how this needs to addressed.  Are we required to maintain a database of requests and send them specific legal ad notification each time such a notice publishes?  Do we send the actual legal notice or just a notification of publication?  Is there a time frame in which a request can be purged from the database? Could you elaborate on this point a little more to clear up our confusion?
Answer: The email notification is intended to notify interested parties when a public notice of interest has been published. We currently have such a feature available on our website www.floridapublicnotices.com. FPA would encourage you to review it as this feature meets the intention of the law. The user registers for membership and then they are able to set up search favorites and have an email sent to them each morning.


Question: The law allows electronic publisher’s affidavits as an alternative to the printed affidavit now in use. How are electronic affidavits provided under the law?
Answer: Download the following memo:  Publisher Electronic Affidavits for Newspaper Legal Ads


Question: Can we charge to post the public notices on our website?
Answer: No, the law prohibits such additional online charges.


Question: In regards to the notices paid for by government that are affected by the 15% discount rule for subsequent insertions, is there a specific definition for the types of ads that fall into this category? We’re not sure how to differentiate these notices from the rest and I don’t know if the party placing the ad would know the difference either. We’re looking for some clarification on this point.
Answer: Download the following memo: Multiple Notice 15% Discount (Note that multiple government notices that are paid for or recouped from by private persons like delinquent tax notices and foreclosure notices do not fall within the 15% discount rule.)


Question: We must have a link on our homepage to the legal notices and the notices must appear online the same day they are in print. Can we simply use the available widget from floridapublicnotices.com to allow the public to search the notices or do we also have to actually display them on this page?
Answer: The law requires that as of July 1, 2012, newspapers must upload legal notices to the statewide site (floridpublicnotices.com). In addition, as you note, the newspaper must by July 1, 2013, begin to post them (display them) on the newspaper’s own website. You can use the FPN search widget (www.floridapublicnotices.com/widget) to fulfill the requirement that you provide a search function on your own website. You cannot use the widget alone as a substitution to displaying the notices on your own website.


Question: Can the required search function be the widget and pull from floridapublicnotices.com or must it be pulling from our site?
Answer: Yes, the search function can be the widget and pull from the FPN site.


Question: Overall, aside from the pricing question, it looks to me like if we create a web page for legal notices and have it linked to our homepage we will be complying with the law if we use your widget for searching the ads and for signing up for notification emails – the part I’m hazy on is whether or not we actually need to display the notices on our own site or if the search widget will suffice.
Answer: You must also display the notices directly on your own website.