Legislature(2003 - 2004)
05/06/2003 03:02 PM House TRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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.