Proper public notice before property is disposed of is a critical right in our society. This legislative season, there is an effort within the Utah Legislature to diminish that right.
Senate Bill 182, sponsored by Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, seeks to remove a requirement that proper notice be made prior to a storage unit lien auction. In these type of auctions, interested parties deserve to be notified in a public manner. That requirement has long been fulfilled by placing such notices in a general circulation newspaper. Adams' bill, by contrast, wants to change the notification style to include other types of "public notice" that would bring at least three bidders.
SB182 is yet another infringement on the public's right to know. Changing the law for storage unit owners is a clear repudiation of the intent behind public notice. Fewer persons will be informed. With these types of changes, many persons who might otherwise learn of the auctions will no longer be aware when they are occurring. A substitute method of notifying persons of these auctions could lead to targeted ways to get specific persons to an auction, rather than offering -- as is proper -- fair notification to everyone.
The bill is being pushed by the self storage industry. Its backers see an opportunity to conduct the auctions at a potentially cheaper price. However, any savings will come at the expense of the people of Utah, who will end up having less public notice information.
Every year, it seems, there is a battle with elements of the state Legislature that want to use their elected power to reduce transparency and the public's right to know. SB182 is a part of that battle. The bill needs to be defeated.