COLUMBUS—State Representative Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster) yesterday announced the passage of House Bill 34, which gives state agencies, local governments, and other government entities an alternative to sending documents via certified mail, a practice that costs these organizations significantly more money than utilizing traditional first-class mail.
House Bill 34, sponsored by State Representatives Steve Hambley (R-Brunswick) and Scott Ryan (R-Newark), states that a state agency or local government can provide official notification to a citizen through the use of both a verified email address and ordinary mail delivery in lieu of certified mail. The legislation outlines 29 instances in which internet communication and regular mail can be used as an alternative to certified mail, should the government entity choose.
“I joined with my House colleagues and passed House Bill 34, which grants further flexibility for state and local governments to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Rep. Wiggam. “By supporting 21st century means of communication, official documents can now be disseminated quicker and cheaper than relying on the antiquated method of certified mail. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this legislation, and will continue to support similar bills in the future.”
The purpose of certified mail is to provide an indisputable record that documentation was actually delivered, or attempted to be delivered to a recipient. However, in the case of Cuyahoga County, 85 percent of certified mail notices are returned unclaimed or undeliverable in a typical year. At $5.00 per parcel, this cost adds up to $500,000 per year.
Many in favor of the legislation say local governments should not have to pay such a high price for an outdated form of communication. They believe agencies should be able to notify residents through the internet if that individual has previously provided the entity with a way to contact them, such as disclosing an email address on an official application or other certified form.
The bill does not require the state agencies or local governments to contact residents via the internet, but rather provides the entities with additional options to lessen the financial burden of certified mail. If the agency does not have a verified way to contact the individual through the internet, certified mail must still be used.
House Bill 34 passed unanimously during yesterday’s House session and now goes to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.