Access to the Internet varies, but is significantly lower in rural communities, among the elderly and disabled, and among minority communities. Moving Public Notices to the Internet will make it more difficult for many Texans to read, or even have access to those notices.
- Twenty-five percent of Americans do not have internet of any kind at home. Twenty-six percent of Texans do not have high-speed internet at home.
- Texans least likely to use the Internet are seniors, minorities, rural households and low-income households.
- In fact, according to a Pew Research Center study, only 57% of those over 65 use the internet at all. In Texas only 54% of seniors even have internet access at home.
- A third of African Americans in Texas don’t have internet at home.
- Thirty-one percent of Hispanic households in Texas have no internet access at home.
- Internet usage is also disproportionately low among the disabled, as more than a 36% of those living with a disability don’t live in a house with internet access.
These statistics bear out heavily in certain Texas cities that are among the lowest cities in the country for high-speed internet usage. In Laredo, Texas, a full 48% of individuals do not use the internet. In the greater McAllen area, 45% of individuals do not use the internet, and in the Brownsville-Harlingen area, 43% do not use the internet. The low internet usage in Texas is not limited to border cities—35% of individuals in Waco, and 33% of all individuals in Texarkana don’t use the internet.
Minority Access to Public Notice matters.
State and local agencies are required to make a good faith effort to utilize Historically Underutilized Businesses (“HUB”s) in contracts. Proposed Texas State HUB goals range from 11% to 32%, depending on the procurement category. In the most recent disparity study, none of these goals were achieved. v
As noted, public notice is principally about transparency, not procurement. Minorities, the elderly and disabled, and all other Texans have a right to know how their government is spending their tax dollars, and reducing public notice will disenfranchise many. Opponents of printed newspaper notice argue that libraries have Internet. But libraries also have newspapers, which are easier to navigate than dozens of different websites.