COLUMBUS—Today the Ohio House voted unanimously to give 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 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.
“Over the last three years, I have often spoken about the State of Ohio providing our local governments with more options, instead of less in serving the needs of their constituents,” said Hambley. “This is about good government and improving the efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of official notices by our local subdivisions and state agencies.”
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.
Hambley and Ryan say that these local governments should not have to pay such a high price for an outdated form of communication.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.
“This legislation provides the opportunity for many government entities to avoid spending taxpayer money on very expensive, ineffective, and outdated mandates for certified mail requirements,” Ryan said.
House Bill 34 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. If the agency does not have a verified way to contact the individual through the internet, certified mail must still be used.
The Ohio Senate will now take up House Bill 34 for further consideration.