State House candidates discuss public notices

State Rep. Matt Baker, R-Wellsboro, is a native of Westfield. He represents the 68th Legislative District, which consists of both Tioga and western Bradford County in the state Legislature, and is seeking the Republican nomination in Tuesday’s primary election.

Jonathan A. Ruth, D-Covington, is a K-12 music teacher in the Southern Tioga School District and is seeking the Democrat nomination to represent the 68th Legislative District in the May 20 primary election.

State Rep. Michael K. Hanna Sr., D-Lock Haven, represents the 76th Legislative District, which consists of Clinton County and parts of Centre County. He is seeking the Democrat nomination.

QUESTION: One of government’s legal responsibilities is notifying the public of its actions and intent. The Pennsylvania Constitution and many state laws require formal public notices to be published in many instances. Do you support the printing of public notices in newspapers as a means to inform the public and make a permanent record of government actions and proposed actions?

Baker: Yes, obviously I usually decide these decisions on the least costly but most effective way of complying with the law. I do have concerns there are a lot of people who may not have computers or be able to go online to see these notices. I get seven different newspapers and I like it that way. That’s how big my district is. I have never gone online to see legal notices.

Ruth: Yes, I would agree with keeping it in the paper, because it is too easy to change things online. Having it on paper needs to be a requirement. I think notifying people by as many means as possible is a good thing.

Hanna: No response

QUESTION: When public notice is required, do you believe governments should be allowed to disseminate and archive their own information, or is there accountability value to third-party publication and archiving?

Baker: I think there is value in both. In terms of creating a verifiable record, there is value in allowing for both, because if for some reason, records are lost by one, it may be available by the other. I know some cases where we have tried to help veterans get discharge records and due to floods or fires, records have been lost, so it is always nice to have another resource.

Ruth: I believe there is definitely accountability value to third-party archiving. That is why we need to have the press involved and why we have a free press.

Hanna: No response