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Bill would let any billboard in Utah become electronic

A billboard in North Salt Lake encourages water conservation. (PHOTO: Captured on Friday, April 24, 2015. Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill is moving forward that would allow any of the billboards in Utah to be turned into an electronic or digital billboard.

“We have a new technology developing over the last ten years that allows digital billboards to multi-message, to change messages often, to be very efficient in what they do in advertising,” said SB61‘s sponsor, state senator Scott Sandall from Tremonton.

Sandall says businesses like a car dealership can have their own flashing display already, so this is about equality or fairness.

“I think the majority of what we are talking about, exists in spaces where we already permit digital lighting in that sector,” said Sandall.

Jared Johnson works for a digital display manufacturer called Media Resources. He testified in front of a senate committee in favor of the bill.

“It will prevent municipalities from unfairly excluding the billboard industry from using a display technology, a lighting technology really, that is very efficient and effective that all other users are allowed to use in those municipalities,” he said.

The Utah League of Cities and Towns spoke against the bill. They say it would have a negative impact on Utah neighborhoods close to billboards that could become electronic. And opponents say a state law on this matter would take away the power of cities and municipalities over the billboards. Other people expressed their worries including blight or light pollution.

The Senate Business and Labor Committee voted 6-2 to move the bill to the full Senate.

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