A provision that gives Guilford County municipalities the option of posting legal notices on government web sites was tucked into a bill dealing with worker's compensation for prison inmates.
Currently, state law requires municipalities to pay for notices to be published in local newspapers.
An earlier effort to extend the public notice law statewide failed--but Republican Senator Trudy Wade of Greensboro managed to tack the Guilford County provision into the unrelated bill.
John Bussian, a media lawyer and longtime lobbyist for the North Carolina Press Association, said the measure could disenfranchise people with no access to the Internet.
"Why there is a need to target one county like Guilford for the loss of the right to know the way that this legislation does, you have to wonder about that,” Bussian said.
Wade has not responded to messages seeking comment.
Critics of the legislation say it's driven by Senator Wade's personal disagreements with the Greensboro News and Record. Guilford County Representative Pricey Harrison said the measure is wrong on process and substance.
"From my perspective, this bill, substantively, is Senator Trudy Wade's personal vendetta against the News and Record, in Greensboro,” Harrison said.
Harrison, a Democrat, says the provision undermines the public's right to know what its government is doing.