Michigan Senate OKs legislation to curb billboards

| 11/6/2006

Truckers and other drivers who have lamented for years the seemingly never-ending erection of billboards along roadways might be encouraged by a bill package advancing in Michigan.

The Senate unanimously approved a pair of bills Wednesday, Dec. 6, that would place restrictions on billboards along Michigan roads. House lawmakers approved amended versions of the legislation - SB567 and SB568 - Tuesday, which required the Senate to give final approval before sending the legislation to Gov. Jennifer Granholm's desk.

The bill package would prohibit billboard companies from getting permits for new signs unless they gave up the permits for signs they already own. Companies also would be allowed to take out vegetation that clutters the public's view of their signs, rather than waiting for the state to do it.

"The number of billboards on Michigan's trunkline roads will be capped at 16,000 signs," Rep. Phil LaJoy, R-Canton, said in a written statement.

An increase in fees associated with the billboards is expected to generate $900,000. LaJoy said the additional revenue would allow more transportation funds to be used for roads.

A Senate Fiscal Agency analysis said about 14,500 permits for billboards along highways have been issued in the state. About 270 new permits are issued each year.

At least four states - Alaska, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont - prohibit billboards from being erected.