The Legislature is a mere two weeks into its regular session, but already lawmakers can claim an accomplishment. They’ve killed the year’s first dumb bill.
An effort to declare a moratorium on highway billboards had nothing to do with beautification, or eliminating distractions. Instead, it was a clunky move by those offended by a specific line of content, ads by trial lawyers targeting truckers.
Rep. Jack McFarland, R-Jonesboro, sponsor of the measure, told the House Transportation Committee that the trucking business employs 90,000 people in Louisiana and "has been hit harder than any other industry by the billboard industry."
The correct answer to that is, too bad. Lawyers have long been allowed to advertise their services. It’s not the state’s place to regulate how they do it, or to interfere with other types of businesses in an attempt to protect a particular industry. Doing so, in fact, sounds like the sort of big-government overreach that should make conservatives who bristle at trial lawyer tactics squirm.
The bill went down by a lopsided 14-3 vote, which suggests that a companion Senate bill doesn’t have legs either.
May House Transportation be the first of many panels this session to take a stand for common sense.