Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/08/2003 08:07 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 230-POLITICAL SIGNS ON PRIVATE PROPERTY                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH announced  that the next order  of business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO. 230,  "An Act  relating to political  signs on                                                               
private property."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0409                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM moved  to adopt CSHB 230(TRA)  as the working                                                               
document.    There   being  no  objection,  it   was  before  the                                                               
committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM, speaking as the  sponsor of HB 230, provided                                                               
the following testimony:                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     The  ability of  citizens  to  express their  political                                                                    
     opinion,  even   to  advocate  for   the  same,   is  a                                                                    
     fundamental right.   This basic  right has  become even                                                                    
     more pronounced  when the expression  is made  on one's                                                                    
     own  private  property.     Currently,  the  state  law                                                                    
     prohibits the  posting of  campaign or  political signs                                                                    
     within  road view  or 660  feet, whichever  is greater.                                                                    
     This  applies  to  federally  funded  roads  and  state                                                                    
     roads.   The restriction includes private  property and                                                                    
     if  you and  I were  to  erect a  "No War  in Iraq"  or                                                                    
     "Support Our  Troops" sign  today, within  the distance                                                                    
     limits,  we would  be in  violation of  state law  even                                                                    
     though we're electing to utilize  our own private words                                                                    
     and political free speech.   It has been interpreted to                                                                    
     say  that   without  sign  restriction,   political  or                                                                    
     otherwise, that  Alaska may lose federal  highway funds                                                                    
     by being  out of compliance with  the restrictions that                                                                    
     the  Federal  Highway [Administration  (FHWA)]  program                                                                    
     puts upon the state of Alaska.   The [FHWA] ... on this                                                                    
     subject, however,  shows that  this untrue.   We  had a                                                                    
     letter in the packet that  is from the FHWA and relates                                                                    
     to that misinformation.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM  explained that he introduced  HB 230 because                                                               
during the last  campaign and prior campaigns,  the Department of                                                               
Transportation  & Public  Facilities  (DOT&PF) wasn't  consistent                                                               
with its  application of rulings  or decisions  regarding whether                                                               
it was inappropriate  for folks to have political  signs on their                                                               
private property.   Those  who placed a  political sign  on their                                                               
private property  that could  be seen  from public  property were                                                               
considered to  be in  violation.   However, the  accusations were                                                               
that  the  candidate  was  breaking   the  law  in  these  cases.                                                               
Representative Holm said  he felt that it  was inappropriate that                                                               
folks were  getting their First  Amendment rights trampled  on by                                                               
DOT&PF.   He  noted  that in  the  House Transportation  Standing                                                               
Committee the legislation was changed  in order to help DOT&PF be                                                               
capable of taking care of problems  so as not to clutter Alaska's                                                               
landscape.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 0719                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  directed attention to  page 2, lines 16-17.   He                                                               
surmised that  this legislation is talking  about political signs                                                               
for  which most  candidates would  use  a 4X8  piece of  plywood,                                                               
which would amount to 32 feet.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM pointed  out  that he  didn't  want tons  of                                                               
signs to be put together to  make one large billboard, which lead                                                               
to  the  definition  specifying that  co-joined  signs  can't  be                                                               
greater than 32 feet.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN commented  that one might as well  not put up                                                               
a  sign   600  feet   from  public   view,  depending   upon  the                                                               
configuration of  the lot.  Representative  Lynn turned attention                                                               
to  the letter  from  Andree  McLeod, which  is  included in  the                                                               
committee, and asked if HB 230 addresses sign vandalism.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM replied no.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0893                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
TODD  LARKIN,  Staff to  Representative  Jim  Holm, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, explained  that sign  vandalism wasn't  addressed in                                                               
HB  230, although  the civil  remedy for  sign vandalism  already                                                               
exists.  Therefore, to give  DOT&PF enforcement of sign vandalism                                                               
seemed redundant.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM   told  the   committee  that  one   of  the                                                               
difficulties in making  the choice to enter  politics is choosing                                                               
to go against  the opponent who is  in power.  If  the ability of                                                               
people to,  in a  less costly  manner, get  their message  out is                                                               
hindered, the  incumbent has  a large  advantage.   Therefore, in                                                               
order to encourage  folks to enter the system and  be part of the                                                               
process, it should be as easy as possible.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1045                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  pointed out  that  one  can have  private                                                               
property in  a right-of-way,  but the  individual still  owns the                                                               
property.   He noted that in  his area great care  has been taken                                                               
to keep everything out of  the state right-of-way.  Therefore, he                                                               
asked if  Representative Holm would  accept a  friendly amendment                                                               
specifying that signs may not be in the state right-of-way.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM  directed attention to  page 2, line 19.   He                                                               
noted that  he has rights-of-way  that go over his  property, for                                                               
which  he  has  given  easements   to  various  portions  of  the                                                               
government; however, that only means  he must allow access to the                                                               
property.   Furthermore,  the aforementioned  shouldn't deny  his                                                               
ability for  political free speech  with political signs  so long                                                               
as those signs don't obstruct traffic.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  expressed concern with using  a subjective                                                               
definition   regarding  whether   a  political   sign  obstructs,                                                               
interferes, or  confuses [traffic]  versus not allowing  signs in                                                               
the known distance of a right-of-way.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   HOLM  recalled   the  recent   passage  of   the                                                               
legislation dealing  with memorials  and the  consideration given                                                               
regarding  whether  memorials should  be  allowed  in the  public                                                               
right-of-way.     The  majority   who  voted  for   the  memorial                                                               
legislation  determined   that  it  was  appropriate   [to  allow                                                               
memorials in  the public  right-of-way].   Since the  signs being                                                               
discussed  today would  only  be in  place  during the  political                                                               
season, he said  he believes it's appropriate  to allow political                                                               
free speech.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  LARKIN commented  that this  legislation is  quite timid  in                                                               
asking the  state to  recognize this  right on  private property.                                                               
He  pointed  out  that  the committee  packet  should  include  a                                                               
supreme  court case  that addresses  "traditional  forums."   The                                                               
court found that  it's unconstitutional to prohibit  this type of                                                               
[political]  free speech  in many  types of  public rights-of-way                                                               
such as  public sidewalks.   However, HB  230 only speaks  to the                                                               
use of  signs on private  property.  With  regard to the  50 foot                                                               
right-of-way, DOT&PF already views that  as owned property and as                                                               
this legislation  stands a sign can't  be placed in that  50 feet                                                               
of right-of-way.   Therefore,  he didn't  believe there  would be                                                               
the  desire to  include something  that specifically  prohibits a                                                               
[constitutional] right.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1399                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG remarked  that he  likes HB  230, which                                                               
addresses  a  really  important  issue.   He  asked  whether  the                                                               
[committee]  should  "beef  up"  the  findings  to  discuss  free                                                               
expression or  whether the  legislation should  be expanded.   He                                                               
related his  belief that  many Alaskans  strongly agree  with the                                                               
right of free  speech and protecting it  constitutionally as well                                                               
as statutorily.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON   expressed  concern  that   the  language                                                               
speaking to  the right-of-way isn't  clear.  Although on  page 1,                                                               
line 13,  the legislation specifies that  outdoor advertising may                                                               
not be erected  within 660 feet of the  nearest right-of-way, the                                                               
"added sections" aren't clear.   He emphasized that he wanted the                                                               
provision  to  be  clear  in   order  to  avoid  each  individual                                                               
candidate approaching DOT&PF to understand the provision.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1624                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ANDREE McLEOD paraphrased from her  written testimony, which read                                                               
as follows:                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     I've  been   a  victim   of  political   campaign  sign                                                                    
     vandalism.   Fortunately,  one of  my perpetrators  was                                                                    
     caught   and  his   accomplice   is  still   officially                                                                    
     unidentified.    Justice  has yet  failed  to  penalize                                                                    
     these people and I'm left  to wonder how someone can be                                                                    
     caught  vandalizing campaign  signs  without remedy  to                                                                    
     the victim.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     So,  can  you  please  explain  where  the  enforcement                                                                    
     provisions  are relating  to  violations  of these  new                                                                    
     political signs  on private property laws  you're about                                                                    
     to  put on  the books?   There's  no objection  to this                                                                    
     bill,  but where  are the  safeguards and  protections?                                                                    
     What are  the fines  for violating the  political signs                                                                    
     on  private  property laws?    If  you have  basic  and                                                                    
     inherent  laws,  you also  have  to  have penalties  in                                                                    
     place  to  deter the  miscreants  in  our society  from                                                                    
     violating those laws.   Could you please  clarify as to                                                                    
     the whereabouts of these remedies.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. McLEOD  acknowledged the  previous testimony  specifying that                                                               
civil  remedies  already  exist.     However,  she  informed  the                                                               
committee that  she has  been going through  the process  that is                                                               
available to  her and  her case has  languished in  the municipal                                                               
prosecutor's office.   She said she  wasn't sure if her  case has                                                               
to do  with the mutual  support between the perpetrators  and the                                                               
current mayor of  Anchorage, as evidenced by  their APOC reports.                                                               
Currently, the ombudsman is reviewing  whether there are remedies                                                               
because  it  seems  the  municipal  prosecutor  can't  find  any.                                                               
"What's the  sense in putting  laws on  the books when  you can't                                                               
enforce them," she asked.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1789                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL DOWNING,  Director/Chief Engineer, Division  of Statewide                                                               
Design  & Engineering  Services, Department  of Transportation  &                                                               
Public  Facilities,  explained  that the  right-of-way  functions                                                               
fall under  the division he supervises.   He turned to  the issue                                                               
regarding how  DOT&PF manages the  right-of-way and how  it would                                                               
treat a sign in the  right-of-way if the right-of-way included an                                                               
easement on private  property and the underlying fee  owner was a                                                               
private property owner.  Mr.  Downing explained that DOT&PF holds                                                               
that all of the highway right-of-way  is managed in the same way;                                                               
that is, DOT&PF  has management and control of those  lands.  The                                                               
aforementioned  has been  contested  and it  has been  supported.                                                               
Therefore,  Mr. Downing  related that  DOT&PF  feels it  is in  a                                                               
position  to  manage the  highway  right-of-way  and these  signs                                                               
would  be  prohibited  in the  highway  right-of-way,  under  the                                                               
current  language of  the  legislation.   He  specified that  the                                                               
department  would  treat  anything  within the  boundaries  of  a                                                               
right-of-way the  same.  He  noted that the  state's right-of-way                                                               
is a patchwork quilt of ownership.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM said  that HB  230 was  drafted in  the hope                                                               
that it was  in concert with the department because  there was no                                                               
intent to effect the department's  ability to protect the public.                                                               
Representative  Holm surmised  that the  department doesn't  have                                                               
any problem with  a sign that is  within 50 feet or  660 feet [of                                                               
the right-of-way] unless federal funding is impacted.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DOWNING answered  that is  correct.   The department  sees a                                                               
distinction  between the  highway  right-of-way  and the  private                                                               
property that is  adjacent.  The federal  Outdoor Advertising Ban                                                               
and the  Federal Highway  Beautification Act  of 1965  do address                                                               
the lands  that are adjacent out  to 660 feet.   That prohibition                                                               
on outdoor advertising in that  area extends to signs farther out                                                               
that are  intended to  be read  from the  highway.   However, the                                                               
area  beyond the  660 feet  gets into  private property  and [the                                                               
department] views it differently as does the statutes.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  surmised, "Well, I'm hearing  that ... the                                                               
federal law encompasses  this further difference that  ... DOT is                                                               
working within the right-of-way  and management within the right-                                                               
of-way."    However,  Representative  Seaton said  he  wanted  to                                                               
ensure that the legislation is clear  so that when the statute is                                                               
read the same answer will be apparent to all.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 2040                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked if DOT  would have a problem if signs                                                               
were permitted in the right-of-way.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DOWNING answered,  "It would  be a  much greater  concern to                                                               
us."   Furthermore,  he related  his belief  that the  FHWA would                                                               
change its position if advertising  was allowed within the right-                                                               
of-way.   He suggested that  perhaps the addition of  a provision                                                               
specifying "private  property exclusive of  rights-of-way granted                                                               
for transportation."   Although the department  thinks the matter                                                               
is clear now, he recommended  speaking with Jim Cantor, Assistant                                                               
Attorney  General, because  he  has dealt  with  a case  directly                                                               
related to this issue.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON interjected  that his  problem is  that he                                                               
called  three  different  folks  in  DOT&PF  and  received  three                                                               
different answers.  Therefore, the matter isn't clear.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH related that [political] signs along the [right-                                                                
of-way] in  Juneau are taken  down by the state  within 24-hours.                                                               
However, in Anchorage there are many signs in the right-of-way.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2169                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   HOLM  corrected   Mr.  Downing's   testimony  by                                                               
pointing out that  there is a difference between  free speech and                                                               
advertising.  He said he  didn't want free speech and advertising                                                               
to be  treated the  same, and  therefore this  legislation arose.                                                               
He noted  that the  two are  treated the  same under  the Federal                                                               
Highway Beautification Act of 1965.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE      GRUENBERG      characterized     this      as                                                               
"constitutionally, a real moving target  issue."  In fact, a very                                                               
important case, the "Nike shoe  case", was recently argued in the                                                               
U.S. Supreme Court  and is under advisory.  This  case deals with                                                               
commercial free  speech and the  extent of protection there.   He                                                               
predicted that  the ramifications  of that  case will  spill over                                                               
into the [political signage] issues.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON requested  that  Mr.  Downing contact  the                                                               
attorney he mentioned in order  to pursue some sort of clarifying                                                               
language similar to what he suggested.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOWNING answered yes.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2265                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  directed  attention to  AS  19.25.075,                                                               
which was  the result of a  1998 ballot measure.   He pointed out                                                               
that  the   statutory  findings  are  there,   although  normally                                                               
statutory findings are placed in  the uncodified law.  Therefore,                                                               
it  seems that  the findings  in HB  230 would  be placed  in [AS                                                               
19.25].075 in order to illustrate that they are as important.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM said that would be fine.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  expressed  interest in  visiting  with                                                               
Representative  Holm  and  his  staff  to  explore  whether  this                                                               
legislation would be used as a reaffirmation of free expression.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2389                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN noted  that he  didn't want  to abandon  the                                                               
concern  brought up  regarding vandalism.   He  related his  view                                                               
that there  are different types  of vandalism and  that vandalism                                                               
on  a  political sign  is  vandalism  against  free speech.    He                                                               
expressed the need to address  the issue of vandalism before this                                                               
legislation moves from the committee.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DOWNING pointed  out  that [CSHB  230(TRA)]  still has  some                                                               
items that are somewhat undefined,  and therefore there will need                                                               
to  be  some  definition  for them  eventually.    Therefore,  he                                                               
requested  some   refinement  with  the  terms   "temporary"  and                                                               
"currently  relevant".   Although  there  is  some reluctance  to                                                               
become  too specific  in statute,  eventually there  has to  be a                                                               
specific  [definition]   that  will  either  be   made  with  the                                                               
department's policy and  regulation or in statute.   He indicated                                                               
that   placing  the   [definition]  in   statute  would   provide                                                               
consistency.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM   highlighted  that   in  the   court  cases                                                               
referenced in  the committee  packet one can  see that  there are                                                               
some  specific regulations  put in  place by  various cities  and                                                               
those  regulations  speak to  the  lack  of constitutionality  of                                                               
placing time limits.   The aforementioned is  why the legislation                                                               
was written as it is.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH  summarized  that   three  issues  have  arisen:                                                               
enforcement  issues, free  speech, and  right-of-way issues.   He                                                               
requested  that  Representative Holm  work  with  the members  on                                                               
these issues.  He then set aside HB 230.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  requested a  copy of the  opinion [from                                                               
the department's attorney] as well as any suggested amendments.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
[HB 230 was taken up later in the meeting.]                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HB 230-POLITICAL SIGNS ON PRIVATE PROPERTY                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH returned the committee's  attention to HOUSE BILL                                                               
NO.  230,  "An  Act  relating   to  political  signs  on  private                                                               
property."                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 2292                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said  that he was going  to suggest that                                                               
the findings  of HB 230  be placed  in statute AS  19.25.075 like                                                               
the other legislative findings, as was discussed this morning.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM  characterized  the   above  as  a  friendly                                                               
amendment.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
JAMES   CANTOR,   Assistant  Attorney   General,   Transportation                                                               
Section,  Civil Division  (Anchorage),  Department  of Law,  said                                                               
Representative Gruenberg's suggestion makes sense.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  recalled that  AS 19.25.075  was adopted  by the                                                               
people of the state pursuant to a referendum.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. CANTOR replied yes.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH  pointed  out  that AS  19.25.075  is  entitled,                                                               
"Findings  and intent  of the  people  of the  State of  Alaska."                                                               
Therefore, he  asked if  the legislature does  this, would  it be                                                               
different than the people.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG clarified that  the [findings of HB 230]                                                               
would  be   a  subsection  (c).     Conceptually,  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg suggested changing the title  of AS 19.25.075 such that                                                               
it would be  entitled, "Findings and intent"  and subsections (a)                                                               
and (b) would remain the  same with subsection (c) and paragraphs                                                               
(1) and (2) under Section 1 of CSHB 230(TRA).                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH said that this  is partly a policy question [for]                                                               
Representative Holm and a legal question [for] Mr. Cantor.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. CANTOR  said this is a  bit outside his expertise.   However,                                                               
he  recalled that  there  is a  period of  time  after which  the                                                               
legislature can revise referendums.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG clarified  his conceptual  amendment as                                                               
follows.   He explained that the  title of AS 19.25.075  would be                                                               
changed  to read,  "Findings  and intent".    Under AS  19.25.075                                                               
subsections (a)  and (b)  would remain as  is while  a subsection                                                               
(c)  would be  inserted.   Therefore Section  1 of  CSHB 230(TRA)                                                               
would read:                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     *Section 1. AS 19.25.075 is amended to read:                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     (c) The Alaska State Legislature finds that                                                                                
          (1) the right to advocate for or against those                                                                        
     individuals who  would occupy public office  and issues                                                                    
     of public interest  is an inherent right  that has been                                                                    
     repeatedly affirmed by the courts; and                                                                                     
          (2) the right to advocate for or against those                                                                        
     individuals who  would occupy public office  and issues                                                                    
     of public interest must be  subject to only the minimum                                                                    
     of  restrictions  necessary  to  address  a  compelling                                                                    
     public or government interest.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH announced,  "Without  objection, that  amendment                                                               
has been made conceptually."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2600                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CANTOR  recalled that  this  morning  there was  a  question                                                               
regarding what  happens when the  Department of  Transportation &                                                               
Public  Facilities  (DOT&PF)  has   an  easement  and  a  private                                                               
property  owner   owns  that   land  underneath   that  easement.                                                               
Currently, that  is being litigated  with commercial signs.   Mr.                                                               
Cantor  related  that DOT&PF  would  suggest  that the  committee                                                               
include  language   specifying  that  private   property  doesn't                                                               
include  that portion  of  property subject  to  an easement  for                                                               
public  transportation.     Also,   Mr.  Cantor  said   that  the                                                               
definitions  of "current  relevance" and  "date of  decision" may                                                       
allow commercial speech and thus he suggested the following:                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Page 2, line 25, before "matter":                                                                                          
          Insert "noncommercial"                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Page 2, line 25:                                                                                                           
          Delete "or"                                                                                                           
          Insert "and"                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CANTOR  turned   to  the  Nike  case   related  to  indirect                                                               
advertising for commercial products  and noted that the committee                                                               
could  consider  adding  in   language  that  prohibits  indirect                                                               
advertising for  commercial products.   Mr. Cantor moved  to page                                                               
2, line 18, and related  that [the "date of decision" definition]                                                           
leaves DOT&PF  with an  uncomfortable decision  to try  to decide                                                               
when  a public  matter is  terminated.   Therefore, he  suggested                                                               
specifying a  time limit for  temporary signs and  requiring that                                                               
signs be dated when erected.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  related his  understanding that  political signs                                                               
have to  be taken  down right  after the election  or there  is a                                                               
fine.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CANTOR  said no  and  pointed  out  that such  signs  aren't                                                               
allowed on  private property.   This  legislation may  handle the                                                               
election issue, there are "issues" that this could address.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 2779                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM  emphasized  that   there  is  a  difference                                                               
between   commercial    speech   and   political    free   speech                                                               
constitutionally.   He  agreed with  Mr.  Cantor that  commercial                                                               
speech has  its place to be  regulated.  However, to  assert that                                                               
political  free  speech  has  a   time  limit  is  inappropriate.                                                               
Representative Holm  inquired as to the  widest right-of-way that                                                               
the state takes of private property in the state.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. CANTOR clarified that many  of the widths were established by                                                               
public  land orders.    He  noted that  he  could  think of  some                                                               
rights-of-way  that  are  300  feet.    In  further  response  to                                                               
Representative Holm, Mr.  Cantor said that the  distance from the                                                               
center line  to the  edge of the  right-of-way would  depend upon                                                               
the type of roadway.  He  recalled that the Old Seward Highway in                                                               
Anchorage  is  150  feet  on  either side  of  the  center  line.                                                               
However, in a number of locations the state holds easements.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG, upon determining  that this is the last                                                               
committee of  referral, offered to work  with Representative Holm                                                               
in handling [Mr. Cantor's suggestions].                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2951                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
TODD  LARKIN,  Staff to  Representative  Jim  Holm, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  expressed  the  need  to  be  ready  for  the  next                                                               
election season.   If this first  step is put on  the books, then                                                               
any problems could be addressed [as they come up].                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 03-59, SIDE B                                                                                                            
Number 2985                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  indicated that this could  be worked on                                                               
during the interim.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM  emphasized that  this [legislation]  is very                                                               
important to  him because  this is a  First Amendment  right that                                                               
has   been  poorly   and   inconsistently   handled  over   time.                                                               
Therefore, he expressed the need  to deal with this matter before                                                               
the next  election season.   He  suspected that  this legislation                                                               
will be worked on in the Senate, which will take some time.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   GRUENBERG   remarked   that   seldom   has   the                                                               
legislature had legislation dealing with freedom of expression.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN   mentioned  that   perhaps  [Representative                                                               
Gruenberg's idea of dealing with  freedom of expression] could be                                                               
dealt with in another piece of legislation over the interim.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG requested  that Mr. Cantor's suggestions                                                               
be  reviewed and  asked if  the  legislation could  be held  over                                                               
night.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM noted he was amenable to the above.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
[HB 230 was held over.]                                                                                                         

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