Friday, March 26, 2010

Bill to protect non-commercial signs, like those fighting rural adult stores, could cost Ky. money

UPDATE, March 27: The possible loss of federal funds means the bill "is not going anywhere," Senate President David Williams said.

As adult stores have sprung up along interstate highways in rural areas, appealing mainly to travelers, some locals have fought back by erecting religious signs and symbols near or next to the businesses. But at least one such billboard in Kentucky appears to run afoul of federal law, and a state legislative bill to protect the sign and other non-commercial billboards could cost the state as much as $42 million in federal highway funds, the chief federal highway official in Kentucky has warned.

"Having been warned, the Transportation Cabinet opposes the bill and has forwarded the federal government's concerns to the Senate, where the bill awaits committee action," John Cheves reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Cabinet spokesman Chuck Wolfe told him, "At a time when we're cutting back on road maintenance because of the budget, we simply cannot afford to lose more than $40 million."

The bill was prompted by this billboard on Interstate 65 at Upton in LaRue County, across the road from an adult store (with an "ADULT" sign) that was established several years ago. "A judge ruled the 'Hell' billboard to be advertising and therefore subject to laws restricting its location and size," Cheves reports. "The bill would exempt non-commercial billboards — defined as those that don't advertise products or services — that are on private property from the state Transportation Cabinet's permitting process." (Read more)

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