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Thread: Kentucky considering circumventing Highway Beautification Act to save religious sign

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Kentucky considering circumventing Highway Beautification Act to save religious sign

    Kentucky could give up $42,000,000 in federal highway funds, and perhaps even much of its scenic beauty, if a bill being proposed by a state representative is passed.

    I was impressed with the relatively billboard-free landscape of Kentucky the times I've driven through the state, but it looks like state leaders would rather see unobstructed views of bluegrass and rolling hills sacrificed for the purpose of proselytizing. What a high price to pay for being ideologues who want to mix church and state.

    ‘Hell is real’ billboard bill could cost state $42 million a year
    By John Cheves

    FRANKFORT — Kentucky risks losing $42 million a year in federal transportation funds if lawmakers approve a billboard deregulation bill aimed at saving a “Hell is real” sign along Interstate 65, according to federal officials.

    The state House approved House Bill 536, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Johnny Bell of Glasgow, earlier this week and the proposal has already received one of three required readings in the Senate.

    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.

    Bell has said he is defending a LaRue County billboard declaring “Hell is real,” which stands across I-65 from a billboard advertising an adult bookstore in Upton. A judge ruled the billboard to be advertising and therefore subject to laws restricting the sign’s location and size. Bell said he disagreed with the judge.

    However, the Federal Highway Administration sent a warning letter last week to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

    Under the federal Highway Beautification Act, Kentucky must keep “effective control of outdoor advertisements” or risk, as a penalty, losing some federal funds for a half-dozen transportation-related programs, wrote Jose Sepulveda, administrator of the Federal Highway Administration’s Kentucky division.

    “At least at first reading, the bill seems to have the potential to affect (Kentucky’s) ability to remain compliant with federal requirements,” Sepulveda wrote. “The penalty would have been approximately $42 million if applied to the fiscal year 2009 federal aid apportionment.”

    Kentucky’s share of the funds would be given to other states, he wrote. It would come from programs paying for road construction and maintenance, safety improvements, public transit and hiking and biking trails, he wrote.

    The Federal Highway Administration in 1996 successfully discouraged California from a similar effort to exempt billboards that held non-commercial speech, he added.

    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, cabinet spokesman Chuck Wolfe said Thursday.

    “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 in federal funds,” Wolfe said.

    Senate Transportation Chairman Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood, said he has not yet reviewed the bill, but he is aware of it and the potential funding losses. Harris said his attention currently is focused on finalizing the state’s road-building plan and he cannot say what his committee will do with the billboard bill.

    Environmentalists have also opposed the bill, which the House approved Tuesday on an 80-16 vote. Louisville attorney Paul B. Whitty has said the measure would have “catastrophic results” for Kentucky’s landscape.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Cyburbian vagaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Kentucky could give up $42,000,000 in federal highway funds, and perhaps even much of its scenic beauty, if a bill being proposed by a state representative is passed.

    I was impressed with the relatively billboard-free landscape of Kentucky the times I've driven through the state, but it looks like state leaders would rather see unobstructed views of bluegrass and rolling hills sacrificed for the purpose of proselytizing. What a high price to pay for being ideologues who want to mix church and state.
    Dumbass rednecks!! Let that $42,000,000 go somewhere else to cause more sprawl.
    ...my lifestyle determines my death style!
    - Metallica

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Unfortunately for Kentucky, budget deficts are real too. If they lose the money maybe a few million can end up in my state.

  4. #4
    Mrs G. and I chuckled when we saw this billboard Saturday on our return from a daytrip with the kids to Mammoth Cave National Park* and noticed the juxtaposition with the pronshop pole sign. While there are lengthy stretches of interstate without billboards, they cluster near exits and are a terrible blight on the landscape. It's also not at all uncommon to see the renegade trailer "sign" along the interstates as well.

    Sadly, there is another bill moving through the legislature that would permit tree trimming (right down to the stump, presumably) of trees in the limited access rights-of-way blocking the view of billboards. The sign lobby, and those that will do its bidding, are alive in well in the Commonwealth.

    *The Historic Tour is a two-hour tour that is well worth the price of admission ($12 adults/$8 U13 and Seniors). Do call ahead or make reservations, however, as it sells out most summer weekends. There is no advertising inside the cave.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Headline in Louisville Courier-Journal: Billboard measure dies in Senate
    http://www.courier-journal.com/artic...dies+in+Senate

    Gee ya think
    Senate leaders decided not to call the measure for a floor vote after staff determined that the risk of losing federal highway dollars was too great.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cloverhill's avatar
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    Billboards?

    There are places that still allow billboards?
    No one stood up and yelled, "Socialist Government takeover of science and engineering!" when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cloverhill View post
    There are places that still allow billboards?
    In GA the biggest billboard companies are owned by Bible thumpers who also go around to county courthouses hanging these cheesy "historic documents" sets that just happen to include the ten commandments.

    Such thinking is what fuels our jihad response to the mad mullahs.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cloverhill's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by fringe View post
    Such thinking is what fuels our jihad response to the mad mullahs.
    Talibublicans?
    No one stood up and yelled, "Socialist Government takeover of science and engineering!" when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

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