Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/06/2003 03:02 PM TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 230 - POLITICAL SIGNS ON PRIVATE PROPERTY                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR MASEK announced  that the first order  of business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO. 230,  "An Act  relating to political  signs on                                                               
private property."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0049                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ALLEN COMBS,  representing himself, said he  would reiterate what                                                               
he had said in previous  testimony [meeting of 4/29/03] and would                                                               
add several  additional points.   He alluded  to signs'  being up                                                               
only 60  days before an election  and no more than  10 days after                                                               
an election  is completed.   He also mentioned  a fine of  $100 a                                                               
day, per sign,  if signs were not  taken down.  He  said he would                                                               
like  to  see the  "setback  provision"  the  same  as it  is  in                                                               
Anchorage  so undue  problems are  not caused  to people  who are                                                               
driving.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 0148                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. COMBS suggested a "one time  only at one location" maximum of                                                               
32 square  feet and  also that  signs be placed  so there  is 0.5                                                               
mile between  the signs on  private property only.   In reference                                                               
to permanency, he said that a  permanent base on a political sign                                                               
has no bearing one way or the other.   He gave the example of one                                                               
sign in  which four-by-fours  were provided by  the owner  in his                                                               
front yard; a  sign was screwed onto it and  when they were done,                                                               
they took the  sign off.  He clarified that  he has been involved                                                               
with mayoral  campaigns for the  past two or three  elections and                                                               
has put  up and  taken down  signs.  He  told the  committee that                                                               
there  are  problematic  conflicts between  borough,  state,  and                                                               
federal regulations regarding signage.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 0238                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ED  EARNHART, representing  himself, stated  that he  agreed with                                                               
the  previous  testimony.    He   said  the  situation  has  been                                                               
especially bad  during the past few  years due to a  mistake made                                                               
by the legislature.   He said he presumed the  state would not be                                                               
involved with  issuing permits because  that would be left  up to                                                               
the borough or  the municipalities, since they  handle matters of                                                               
property.   He  said sometimes  people don't  seem to  understand                                                               
that private property  can't be regulated and  therefore the sign                                                               
(indisc.) and that the changes seem  to fit pretty well with what                                                               
the municipality had for roads (indisc.).                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR MASEK acknowledged that  Mr. Earnhart's testimony from a                                                               
previous meeting [4/29/03] was on record.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0414                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ANDREE  McLEOD,   representing  herself,   noted  that   she  had                                                               
submitted  documents to  committee  members,  and requested  that                                                               
alongside  HB   230,  consideration  be  given   to  safeguarding                                                               
protection and enforcement so that  violations of political signs                                                               
on private property  would be addressed.  She  told the committee                                                               
that she  had submitted  a police  report and  also that  she had                                                               
been a candidate  for office and wanted to show,  by example, how                                                               
frustrating  it is  to go  through that  process.   She said  she                                                               
hoped  the  committee  understood  the "blood  sweat  and  tears"                                                               
involved in  campaigning and hoped that  safeguards, protections,                                                               
and provisions  would be  inserted into the  bill to  finally put                                                               
some teeth into it.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  MASEK, upon  determining  that no  one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 230.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0543                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HOLM  moved to adopt  the proposed  committee substitute                                                               
(CS) for HB 230 [Version  23-LS0780\I, Utermohle, 5/1/03] for the                                                               
purposes  of discussion.   There  being no  objection, it  was so                                                               
ordered and Version I was before the committee.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0586                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FATE  offered Amendment 1,  labeled 23-LS0780\I.3,                                                               
Utermohle, 5/1/03, which read:                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 3, following "Section 1.":                                                                                  
          Insert new material to read:                                                                                          
          "The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is                                                                         
     amended by adding a new section to read:                                                                                   
          FINDINGS.  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.                                                                                  
        * Sec. 2."                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FATE explained  that the  amendment involves  the                                                               
inherent right  to place a  sign, as a political  advocacy right,                                                               
stating that this  right is one of the most  sacred rights in the                                                               
United States  of America,  and allows  for putting  up political                                                               
signs if those signs conform to federal and state law.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 0688                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  MASEK, hearing  no objection,  stated that  Amendment 1                                                               
was adopted.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0703                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FATE  offered Amendment 2,  labeled 23-LS0780\I.2,                                                               
Utermohle, 4/30,03, which read:                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Page 2, line 10, following "hazard":                                                                                     
          Insert ";                                                                                                         
               (D)  the signs are consistent with                                                                           
     regulations  adopted by  the  department regarding  the                                                                
     time and manner  for removal of signs that  do not have                                                                
     current relevance;  in this subparagraph,                                                                              
               (i)  "current relevance" means the subject                                                                   
     matter  of  a  sign  is  a  matter  of  ongoing  public                                                                
     consideration by the public or  the date of decision on                                                                
     the subject matter of the sign has not passed;                                                                         
               (ii)  "date of decision" means the date on                                                                   
     which a decision on the subject  matter of a sign is no                                                                
     longer subject to influence by  public opinion, such as                                                                
     the  date of  an election  for  public office  or on  a                                                                
     ballot  measure,  action  by  the governor  on  a  bill                                                                
     passed by the legislature,  formal settlement or formal                                                                
     conclusion   of  an   armed  conflict,   conclusion  of                                                                
     contract negotiations,  or similar matters for  which a                                                                
     date of decision may be ascertained"                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Page 2, line 11:                                                                                                           
          Delete"(D)"                                                                                                       
          Insert "(E)"                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FATE  pointed out that  as a previous  witness had                                                               
explained,  there are  time considerations  regarding when  signs                                                               
should  be removed  and  when  they're allowed  to  go  up.   The                                                               
language does this without setting deadline times or "time-                                                                     
certains" and will therefore limit the amount of time that                                                                      
signage can be up.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0761                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR MASEK, hearing no objection, stated that Amendment 2                                                                   
was adopted.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0790                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGG offered Amendment 3, which read [original                                                                    
punctuation provided but some formatting changed]:                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     P.2,LINE 7,INSERT:                                                                                                         
          (A)individual or conjoined signs do not exceed 32                                                                   
     square feet total per side;                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGG  explained that during testimony,  concern was                                                               
expressed  that potentially  four-by-eight  signs  - or  whatever                                                               
size -  could be stuck or  stapled together, with the  end result                                                               
being similar  to a  billboard.  Amendment  3 speaks  to avoiding                                                               
this adjoining of signs.  It  allows for political freedom but at                                                               
the  same time  offers protection  against the  expressed concern                                                               
regarding billboards.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  MASEK clarified  that  adopting Amendment  3 would  not                                                               
interfere with  complying with the recently  adopted Amendments 1                                                               
and 2.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR MASEK, hearing no objection,  announced that Amendment 3                                                               
was adopted.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0914                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FATE  offered Conceptual  Amendment 4, on  page 2,                                                               
under the new language [line  8, subparagraph (B), "signs are not                                                               
on  a permanent  base;"], suggesting  the striking  of "not  on a                                                               
permanent base" and  replacing it with "temporary".   He referred                                                               
to  previous  testimony  indicating  that  sometimes  signage  is                                                               
placed temporarily on permanent bases.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FATE  said another part of  Conceptual Amendment 4                                                               
would  add  a  new  subparagraph  (E) [page  2]  with  regard  to                                                               
obtaining approval  from the  landowner or  from the  occupant of                                                               
that private property so that a sign could be placed there.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGG  agreed that this  was a good point,  but said                                                               
it would  involve enforcement; he  suggested in  such situations,                                                               
trespassing  laws could  take effect  if the  property owner  was                                                               
notified of trespassing.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FATE said  he felt this answered  his question and                                                               
limited Conceptual  Amendment 4 to  page 2, line 8,  changing the                                                               
language to "signs are temporary".                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 1013                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR MASEK,  hearing no objection, announced  that Conceptual                                                               
Amendment 4 was adopted.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1050                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  HOLM moved  to report  CSHB  230 [Version  23-LS0780\I,                                                               
Utermohle,   4/29/03],  as   amended,  out   of  committee   with                                                               
individual  recommendations  and  the accompanying  fiscal  note.                                                               
There being  no objection,  CSHB 230(TRA)  was reported  from the                                                               
House Transportation Standing Committee.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                

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