It will be harder for local communities to remove ugly, deteriorating billboards thanks to the Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, who alone has received $17,450 from the outdoor advertising industry since 2002, including $3,000 during the first six months of this year.
The measure, Assembly Bill 155, sponsored mostly by Republicans and opposed by local government and environmental groups, was introduced in March and passed 70-27 in the Assembly and on a voice vote in the Senate this fall.
The bill the governor signed into law December 21 was similar to one he vetoed in the 2003-04 legislative session. It was highlighted by WDC along with other proposals and laws that take away local control in an August 2005 report, Gagging Democracy.
In addition to billboard owners, the proposal was backed by business, manufacturing, realtor, tourism, construction, automobile dealer and agricultural equipment interests. These special interests gave $6.9 million to current legislators from 1993 through June 2005, including $5.62 million, or 81 percent, to Republican legislators.
Those special interests gave Doyle $553,312, or 40 percent, of the $1.39 million in large individual and political action committee contributions he accepted during the first six months of 2005.