Support is needed for HB 7640

If you’re reading this paper then you understand the importance of having a true local news source. We’ve been blessed in our area to be served by a newspaper for almost 160 years. We like many of our colleagues and fellow businesses are facing tough times in this current economic climate. This pandemic has caused damage across virtually every business sector and it doesn’t appear that it’s getting better any time soon.

According to the Kentucky Press Association, at the beginning of the year there were 20 daily newspapers within the commonwealth of Kentucky and since the pandemic we’ve lost seven of those. Six changed frequency becoming weeklies and one was shuttered completely, which brought the total to 13 as of this writing. Sadly this year, six newspapers (either daily or weekly) closed their doors, leaving many of those communities without a local newspaper. Additionally, many just like The Ledger Independent, took drastic measures by cutting pages within our publications, days of the week, and reducing staff to remain solvent.

It’s no secret, our industry was already facing challenges with subscribers and advertisers. However, we were holding our own and providing a truly locally focused news outlet. Do you realize that within approximately a 50 mile radius, The Ledger Independent is the only “daily” newspaper? We employ your friends, family, neighbors, and fellow congregants. Many of you have depended on us to deliver local news and information for your entire life. And while you may not always agree with something that’s printed on the Opinion page, you’ve counted on us to tell you about what’s going on in the city and county government of our small communities. What we do is important to the 9,000 plus readers of our paper and the more than 70,000 unique users of our website.

Apparently it is important to many across the country because there’s a bill (HB 7640 – Local Journalism Sustainability Act) that’s been introduced by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) and Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and 18 bipartisan co-sponsors. The Local Journalism Sustainability Act, which is a bi-partisan bill, proposes a series of three tax credits aimed at bolstering local newspapers and media. The credits are as follows:

— Credit for Advertising in Local Newspapers and Local Media. This five-year non-refundable credit provides businesses with less than 1,000 employees up to $5,000 in the first year and up to $2,500 in the subsequent four years to spend with local newspapers and local media.

— Credit for Local Newspaper Subscriptions. This five-year non-refundable credit provides every taxpayer up to $250 a year to spend on subscriptions to local newspapers, defined as print and online publications which primarily produce content related to news and current events and which have a majority of their readership within the publication’s state of operation or within 200 miles.

— Payroll Credit for Compensation of Journalists. This five-year refundable credit provides local newspapers (utilizing the same definition as above) a credit to use for the compensation of journalists. The credit may be used on compensation up to $50,000 a year.

We need your help, as a loyal reader of The Ledger Independent we are asking you to reach out to our local representatives in Congress and ask them to co-sponsor and support this bill. Our collective voices are needed to help bring attention, and action, to this bill. Can we count on you to help?