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For Immediate Release

Date: 05/02/11

Rep. Keschl Says Sign Bill Won't Allow Billboards

AUGUSTA - In public testimony last week, State Rep. Dennis Keschl defended his bill on business signage against critics who have attacked the legislation as a "billboard bill."

"You should know that this bill is about on-premise signs and not about billboards," he said during a public hearing before the Transportation Committee. He also rejected concerns that it would allow for the "uncontrolled use of advertising signs."

The bill, LD 1405, is "An Act To Amend the Laws Restricting Advertising on Public Ways." The Committee has scheduled a work session on the legislation for May 5.

In his commentary before the Committee on April 26, Rep. Keschl (R-Belgrade) noted that Maine is a large state with a small population and a heavy reliance on tourism. "People who travel to Maine often are not familiar with the state and the many attractions it offers," he said. "The changes suggested [in the bill] take advantage of studies showing the value that properly sized and located signs provide to the traveling public" for such services as food, fuel, lodging, hospitals and places of interest.

Continuing, he said the bill provides for "much-needed changes that balance the public's sensitivity surrounding the proliferation of advertising signs with the legitimate needs of the traveling public and businesses throughout the state."

Supporting testimony came from Paul Lessard, co-owner of Neokraft signs, of Lewiston, one of Maine's largest commercial sign manufacturers. He told the Committee, "I can assure you of one thing - not one billboard will be installed because of LD 1405. Businesses must be allowed to compete by free market principles. Everybody will win by the passage of this very reasonable approach to on-premises signage - an approach that works and will put people to work."

Rep. Keschl, a first-term legislator and former Belgrade town manager, said he is disappointed that his bill has been attacked and lampooned as promoting billboards. "I have no interest in doing anything that would despoil our state," he said. "I have a graduate degree in environmental science and I worked for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for 16 years. I was the director of the Bureau of Air Quality for eight years. Throughout my career I have protected and defended Maine's environment.

"I would not be putting this bill forward if I thought it would detract from the scenic beauty along Maine highways," he said. ###

Jay Finegan
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 287-1445