Billboard Bills Fail In The Utah Senate

Feb 28, 2021

Two bills regarding billboards and local regulations have failed the Senate Floor.




Under Senate Bill 61, billboard companies would’ve been able to transition existing displays to electronic sign faces regardless of local regulations. 

Here’s the bill’s sponsor Republican Sen. Scott Sandall:

"There is still this kind of 10-15 year ago battle philosophy that digital billboards are bad and we don't want them," Sandall said. "And I think it's just time for a personal property issue for all of the other things that we could bring into this discussion, to make these sides come together and figure this out without being on a statewide, one box fits all fight it out every few years program." 

The bill underwent a few substitutions to try to meet the demands of both municipalities and billboard companies, but it still failed on the Senate floor Wednesday. 

Democratic Sen. Derek Kitchen was one of 15 senators who voted against the bill. He said he sat in on a caucus where the billboard industry representatives aired concerns about current regulations.

"I just don't see the inequity that the billboard companies are claiming exists here," Kitchen said. "I do think that cities need to have the freedom and the ability to exercise their right in terms of setting lighting curfews, size and height restrictions to these billboards...brightness standards. You know, at the end of the day, Utah residents - whether you're an urban resident or a rural resident - Utahns do not want to see their highways, their streets and their neighborhoods, get the Vegas treatment."

Heber City Councilmember Ryan Stack spoke to KPCW earlier this month, he said the bill would have blocked cities from being able to set up lighting codes for billboards. He raised concerns about how digital billboards would affect Heber’s dark skies ordinance.

Senate Bill 144 was a similar bill in that it also limited how municipalities could regulate billboards. However, this bill didn’t have explicit focus on electronic billboards, but it could’ve opened the door towards digitizing them. 

The bill also failed on the Senate floor earlier this week in a 13-11 vote. However the sponsor opened a motion to reconsider the bill. It now awaits further discussion on the floor.