Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/05/2004 08:00 AM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CSHB 230(STA)-POLITICAL SIGNS ON PRIVATE PROPERTY MR. TODD LARKIN, staff to Representative Holm, recapped that CSHB 230(STA) will allow people to put political signs on their private property in certain areas. He stated: In an effort to comply with federal law and retain highway funds, the state's been very restrictive in its handling of signage. The state has traditionally restricted all political signage within 660 feet within the edge of road right-of-ways in the state. After several conversations with the Federal Highway Administration, we discovered that...our restrictions were excessive and may not be necessary in order to retain those same highway funds. And so, HB 230 seeks to give those free speech rights back to private property owners inside of this 660 foot margin that was established by the Federal Highway Beautification Act of, I think, 1974. So that's what we're discussing, is whether or not you can put a political sign on your private property in this rather large margin. There's more specific language in the bill. I don't know if we're taking questions now or we're just introducing so I'll leave it at that. SENATOR OGAN said it has been his experience that the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOTPF) doesn't enforce the 660-foot ban unless a sign is actually in the right-of-way, and not even then sometimes. He thinks it is a good idea to work on the law because probably everyone who has ever run for office has been cross-vetted with the existing law. CHAIR SEEKINS noted that he has seen some selective enforcement in the Fairbanks area. There being no further questions of the sponsor, he took public testimony. MR. MYRL THOMPSON, representing himself, said he would like some clarification. He noted a comment that many signs are posted "24-7" in the Mat-Su Valley. He said he is not sure how that should be addressed. He continued: On the part of this that talks about the conjoining signs, I'm just wondering that if the signs are ½ inch apart are they considered adjoining signs, because I know a number of instances where that is the case, where there's sign after sign after sign and sometimes on private property, sometimes actually on the right- of-way. And under the current relevance clause, which I believe is (i) under (d), what if the sign would say something like 'Jesus wants you to vote Republican.' Would that be included here? The subject matter, I guess you could argue, would be relevant to the second coming or another instance may be 'Mohammed Supports Closed Caucuses'. CHAIR SEEKINS interjected and said that current relevance is a term of art. MR. THOMPSON asked what would distinguish that. CHAIR SEEKINS said he would say whether or not it is a political advertisement. MR. THOMPSON questioned what would happen if someone put up such a sign. CHAIR SEEKINS said he doesn't know that that would be considered to be a political advertisement. If it fell within the definition, it would fall under the statutes. MR. THOMPSON said he believes it would be a loophole. CHAIR SEEKINS disagreed and asked Mr. Thompson if he had any suggestions to improve the proposal before the committee. MR. THOMPSON said he wonders about the need for the legislation. CHAIR SEEKINS directed Mr. Thompson to the sponsor and thanked him for his testimony. He then announced that CSHB 230(STA) would be brought up again as the committee was out of time. SENATOR OGAN asked that the language on page 2, line 15, be clarified at the next hearing. He questioned what "per side" means. MR. LARKIN replied the displayed face is one side of the sign. Therefore, both sides of a sheet of plywood could be painted but could not exceed that total size. SENATOR OGAN suggested saying 32 square feet. MR. LARKIN said, in response to Mr. Thompson's question, "Mr. Chairman, (i) - the gentleman had a question on that, they're not separable really. One refers to the next and so you get a much clearer definition when you take them together, as far as what kinds of signs you're talking about." SENATOR THERRIAULT said when those two are read together, it ties it to an upcoming election. CHAIR SEEKINS agreed. He then adjourned the meeting at 10:05 a.m.