Last session S.B. 971 and H.B. 1765 would have required the placement of at least 200 electronic billboards in cities across Texas under the guise of providing “emergency information” to citizens. However, the true purpose of the legislation came to light in a Senate hearing.
A representative of the newly created organization, the Texas Emergency Network (TEN), spoke in favor of the bill. He was questioned about the purpose of the bill and why TEN was created. He admitted that the sole purpose of creating the organization was to lobby for the passage of S.B. 971 & H.B. 1765.
Why? So TEN could bid on the highly lucrative job of placing electronic displays that, as stated by TEN, would likely display commercial advertising for, at most, four days a month.
See TEN’s testimony here: http://www.wwwebinars.com/LUVideo3-22/Transportation.swf
The Texas Municipal League, Texas Conference of Urban Counties, Texas Association of Counties, Scenic Texas, and several individual cities and counties testified against the legislation. The Federal Highway Administration took the position that this legislation, if adopted, would subject the State of Texas to a loss of federal highway funding.
Ultimately, both the House and Senate versions of this legislation died in Committee last session.
Now, Clear Channel Outdoor is systematically going to counties and cities on established evacuation routes to get their support for a new electronic messaging system. What has changed? Nothing.
It’s still a redundant mechanism. Why would the Texas Legislature and the Federal Highway Administration approve these billboards now, when it said last year that such a system would cause a loss to Texas of federal funding?
We think this is still just a ruse for the billboard industry to trump local decision-making for its own specific purposes.
Hey, even if they have to display emergency information on these billboards for an average of four days a month, they’ll be raking in the profits (and distracting drivers, cluttering the landscape, and just generally being a nuisance) the remaining 26 or 27 day’s a month!