HB7049: Legal Notices was passed and signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida’s 2022 legislative session.
The law went into effect on January 1st, 2023, and makes Florida one of the few US states to allow the publication of public notices on designated government websites in addition to print newspapers.
Since then, we have seen more progress made by the state’s newspapers toward modernizing the public notice process for their communities than in the past four years of us building this company.
Column is more optimistic than we have ever been about the future of public notice and we have come to believe that HB7049 can be a very good thing for those newspapers who choose to make the most of it.
To be clear, the new law will not improve the revenue outlook for newspapers that continue to choose to do nothing to modernize public notice. Those businesses should expect their governments to seek out a more convenient, less expensive option and should not begrudge them for that decision.
But in the last six weeks, as we triaged a crescendo of unsolicited inbound from Florida government officials and their staff exploring their options under the new law, Column has distilled a hybrid model that gives newspapers something compelling to put in front of their counties that have long-awaited change. We are continuing to work closely with our partners at the Florida Press Association (FPA) as we roll out this model.
We are thrilled to share that we have closed our first such partnership with Brevard County, Florida, which will be the first county to implement Column in the wake of the legal change. And, we have worked with FPA members to get our platform in front of other Florida counties as the go-to option for them to consider as they make their decision.
Around the country, newspapers that have implemented Column feel the impact of a modern solution for public notice — from increases in notice volume, time and cost savings, and new revenue opportunities from our add-on services like Column Planrooms and Notice by Mail.
For newspapers in Florida, the implementation of Column on top of our add-on services can offset any potential revenue impact from the law change. Column will also include a revenue-sharing arrangement for participating Florida newspapers. In contrast, many of these newspapers stand to lose over $100,000 in annual revenue if they do not act to modernize.
Four years ago, I founded Column out of my family’s fifth-generation local newspaper business to bridge the gap between newspapers and government. Since we launched, it’s become much more than just that.
Today, the mission of Column is to make public information systems more valuable. As we shared following our Series A round, our work to strengthen public notice is a blueprint for other opportunities that will expand us beyond just public notice. We are now working to streamline workflows and create transparency in everything from government budgets and procurement documents to healthcare prices.
I testified against HB7049 and continue to have some concerns about the new law and others like it. I have also come to accept and embrace that adapting to changes like this one is fundamentally a good thing for any company—Column and newspapers, alike. It has pushed us to be more resilient. It has inspired the development of this hybrid model which provides a more sustainable solution for how Column can modernize public notice in Florida and beyond.
If you are a Florida newspaper or government agency interested in adopting this new model, you can signup for our waitlist by submitting your contact information below. If you are interested in learning more details about our new model for Florida or about any of the work we are doing at Column, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team at [email protected].