Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, anything that takes a driver’s eyes or
mind off the road is considered a distraction. Billboards exist to do both.
Distracted driving is a root cause of accidents that drive up insurance
In 1965, the US
Congress enacted the Lady Bird Johnson Highway Beautification Act giving
states authority to control and even prohibit billboards. So strong is the
federal authority that four states – Alaska, Maine, Vermont, and Hawaii –
prohibit billboards all-together. Louisiana is on the opposite end of that
spectrum but it doesn’t have to be that way. In 1966, the Louisiana
Legislature amended the State Constitution Ancillaries and the Revised
Statutes to codify its federal authority, granting strong power to the
Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and charging the
Department with pursuing control measures. A series of public records
requests demonstrates that DOTD has done virtually nothing except issue
billboard permits for nearly 60 years.
It is estimated that
Louisiana has 2 percent of the nation's highways but closer to 10 percent of
the nation's billboards.
The entire billboard
industry pays DOTD a combined $145,000 per year for its some 7,000 Louisiana
billboards. These revenues do not cover DOTD’s cost of administering the
program, meaning motorists are subsidizing the billboard industry through the
fuel tax. One single Louisiana truck pays nearly $13,000 per year to use
the highway system, while billboard companies pay an average of only $20 per
year for each billboard.
Resolution 4, by Rep. Jack McFarland (R-Winnfield) modifies DOTD’s
regulations to enact a moratorium on new billboard permits, along with
various other provisions intended to enhance safety. This resolution also
increases billboard permit fees to cover DOTD’s cost of administering a
Senate Bill 216 by
Senate Conrad Appel (R-Metairie) is similar to HCR 4 except that is changes
state law to enact a moratorium and other key provisions intended to promote
highway safety and beautification.
According to Scenic
America, a national non-profit that seeks to promote the intent of the Lady
Bird Johnson Highway Beautification Act, every credible poll shows the
American people consider billboards to be a nuisance and major creator of
blight. The organization has conducted countless studies that show various
negative effects of billboards in communities across America.
measures being pursued stop short of requiring removal of billboards.
Billboard companies were successful in having federal law require states to
pay “just compensation” for removal, thus making it very expensive for the
government to remove a billboard once it is permitted. LMTA is pursuing
measures that will have a real impact without costing the state money.
LMTA will unveil
additional videos over the next two weeks supporting this important cause.