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Politics & Government

Utah Lawmaker Pushes Back Against Accusation That Billboard Industry Receives Special Treatment

A photo of a road in Utah with many billboards on the side.
Matt Hinsta
/
Flickr
A Utah lawmaker defended against an accusation that the billboard industry gets special treatment by the Legislature. But the sponsor of a bill that limits local billboard regulation received campaign contributions from an outdoor advertising agency.

Depending on who you ask, billboards in Utah are good for business or they ruin the state’s scenic views.

The debate over the large advertising rectangles continued Tuesday in a Utah legislative committee. A new bill would limit cities and towns’ ability to regulate electronic billboards.

Kate Kopischke, director of Scenic Utah, spoke against the bill. Her organization opposes outdoor advertising because of visual blight.

Kopischke said she’s heard from communities who feel billboard lobbyists pay to play.

“This bill is taking to a new level the special treatment that Utah is giving to these companies,” she said. “It’s piling on to the number of benefits they’re getting. It’s harming residents, businesses and communities.”

Sen. Scott Sandall, R-Tremonton, is sponsoring the bill. Financial disclosures show he has received around $3,000 from Reagan Outdoor Advertising.

Even though that didn’t come up during the debate, Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-Sandy, took issue with Kopischke's comment.

“There’s legitimate business and stakeholder interest in most bills that we consider,” Cullimore said. “It’s unfair to denigrate the integrity of any particular senators or of the legislative process to say that pay to play is what goes on up here.”

The bill passed the committee. Now the full Senate will consider it.

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