Relocating Non-conforming Billboards (AB594/SB496): Failed 

“Maintenance” of Non-conforming Billboards (AB595/SB495): Passed

These two sets of bills were the latest in the never-ending endeavors of the outdoor advertising industry to allow non-conforming billboards to stand as if they were fully legal billboards. These bills were intended to allow non-conforming billboards to be used indefinitely, while it has been the intent of federal and state laws since 1972 that non-conforming billboards are to be taken down eventually. Non-conforming billboards are billboards that don’t meet the standards of the Federal Highway Beautification Act, but were built before the Act took effect and were allowed to remain in place.

AB594 would have allowed billboards that needed to be taken down because of highway expansions or improvements to be relocated elsewhere and would have overridden the authority of municipalities to regulate billboards locally, however it did not get out of the senate transportation committee. AB595, which construed renovation as maintenance of non-conforming billboards, was reduced in scope in committee, but passed the legislature to become law.

Reducing the extent of these bills was due in large part to the efforts of Scenic Wisconsin active members Gary Goyke, Vernie Smith and Charley Weeth and their testimony in committee hearings. The Transportation Department, which usually testifies on bills such as these in committee sessions, usually speaking “for information”, was conspicuously absent this year. Gary has heard knowledgeable state legislators say that AB595 will be unenforceable to a large extent because it diverges from broader state and federal laws.

28 Apr 2018