• Louisiana legislators propose drastic billboard bills.

    Two Louisiana Legislators are on the warpath against billboards. Rep Jack McFarland has introduced House Concurrent Resolution 4 in the Louisiana legislature to:

    • Limit the number of billboards to 7,000 in the state
    • Prohibit the conversion of any static billboards to digital billboards.
    • Increase billboard licensing fees from $25/year to $500/face per year for a sign in excess of 301 square feet.
    • Increase the setback for between billboards from 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet.
    • Make non-conforming any billboard which advertises a business more than three miles away.

    Senator Conrad Appel has introduced Senate Bill 211 to:

    • Prohibit the department of transportation from issuing a permit to remove trees or vegetation in order to improve the visibility of any off premise outdoor advertising sign.
    • Place a moratorium on new billboard permits.
    • Prohibit the conversion of billboards from static to digital
    • Make non-conforming any billboard advertising a business more than three miles away.

    Insider’s take:  Someone in the Louisiana billboard business has ticked off Rep McFarland and Senator Appell.  One newspaper article suggests that the state’s trucking industry is behind the push because it is fed up with attorney billboards which demonize truckers.  We’ll see how good Lamar’s lobbyists are.  A licensing fee of $500/face per year probably can be challenged as having no bearing to the cost of administering licenses and permits.  The provision restricting a company from purchasing advertising space more than 3 miles from its business seems to be a free speech challenge waiting to happen.  It’s OK to exercise you right of speech to advertise but only within 3 miles of your business?  As to limiting vegetation trimming, the state should be careful what it wishes for.  Vegetation trimming can improve safety and reduce fires and power outages.

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