SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow any billboard in the state to be turned into a digital billboard.
The sponsor of SB61 is Tremonton State Senator Scott D. Sandall and believes his bill would level the playing field for Utah’s billboard and advertising companies. The inequality exists, Sandal said, because small businesses can utilize digital messaging via on-premise advertising.
“It will prevent municipalities from excluding the billboard industry from using a display technology – a lighting technology really – that’s very efficient and very effective that all other users are allowed to use in those municipalities,” Sandall said in testimony before a senate committee.
The Executive Director of the Utah League of Cities and Towns, present during the virtual committee meeting, spoke against SB61.
“The current bill does not provide equity, per se,” said Cameron Diehl. The current bill, as it’s drafted, provides additional rights to a billboard company because they could upgrade a sign anywhere, even if the local zoning currently contemplates no digital signs on-premise or off-premise.
He also expressed concern on behalf of the hundreds of counties his organization represents about the proximity of digital billboards to neighborhoods, and whether electronic billboards might negatively impact quality of life in those neighborhoods.
Other agencies and groups, such as the Utah chapter of the Dark Skies Association, were concerned about the perceived intrusiveness of more digital billboards across Utah.
However, SB61 passed out of the Senate Business and Labor Committee on a 6-2 vote. It will now be heard by the full Senate.