A bill that would prohibit any more billboards from going up along the major highways in the State of Wisconsin was introduced in the state assembly by Representative Jill Billings (D – La Crosse) on March 10 and was referred to the Committee on Rules.

Photo: Representative Jill Billings (D – La Crosse)

Dubbed the Billboard Reform Bill, it also had provisions to prevent rebuilding of non-conforming billboards, to disallow conversion of existing billboards to changing-message electronics, and to repeal allowing trees to be removed for the sole purpose of improving the view of a billboard.

On March 15, the bill (AB1146) failed to pass out of committee.

Due to blunt opposition from the leaders of the Republican-majority legislature during the course of the 2021 – 22 legislative session, the bill lacked co-sponsors. The provisions of the Bill, a distillation of provisions of scenic bills in previous years, were provided to Rep. Billings by Scenic Wisconsin. The bill is a strong statement of scenic principles applied to sign regulation.

Scenic Wisconsin president, Gary Goyke, stated at the Scenic Wisconsin board meeting in October that the main role of Scenic Wisconsin is to encourage state and local government officials to control billboards by respecting and enforcing sign regulations. The Billboard Reform Bill goes a long way toward accomplishing that goal, he said.Rep. Billings is a member of the Preservation Alliance of Wisconsin, was a member of the La Crosse County Board from 2004 to 2012, and has a reputation for scenic advocacy. She has been instrumental in getting new regulations into effect in La Crosse where there had been rampant billboard clutter.

Written by Charlie Mitchell

Citizens for a Scenic Wisconsin