Legislation regulating billboards passes, heads to the governor

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – State lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that would re-establish Kentucky’s regulatory authority for roadside billboards after a federal court called the state’s prior regulations into question.

“Kentucky was the Wild West when it came to billboards,” Republican Sen. Jimmy Higdon, of Lebanon, said of the measure, known as House Bill 328. “We had a lot of activity on our interstates. Billboards sprang up in a lot of different places.”

He said HB 328 simply puts Kentucky’s statute back in place, minus the unconstitutional language. Higdon explained that the bill would not grandfather anyone in or make them remove their billboards.

“It draws a line in the sand,” Higdon said. “It says, from this day forward, we are regulated and you can’t come to Kentucky and put up a sign that is not permitted.”

Republican Sen. Mike Wilson, of Bowling Green, successfully introduced a floor amendment that required the Transportation Cabinet to have the billboard regulations back in place by Aug. 1.

One concern had been Kentucky was at risk of losing as much as $70 million in federal transportation funding for not meeting a federal requirement concerning roadside billboards.

The state had regulated outdoor advertising along certain routes, such as the state’s parkways, since the Highway Beautification Act of 1965. That bill was a priority of President Lyndon B. Johnson with his wife, Lady Bird Johnson, as the act’s No. 1 proponent.

HB 328 passed the Senate 30-6 and the House of Representatives 91-3. It now goes to the governor who may sign it, permit it to become law without his signature, or veto it.

Categories: Featured, News, State News