"We have a country which is based on the premise that all powers reside in the people and that the government derives its authority from the consent of the governed. Hence, we the people have the right to advocate or choose who governs us. This right should have little or no restriction."
- Rep. Holm
"An Act relating to political signs on private property."
The ability of citizens to express political opinion, even to advocate for the same, is a fundamental right. This basic right becomes even more pronounced when the expression is made on one's own private property.
Currently, State law prohibits the posting of campaign or political signs within road view or 660 feet (whichever is greater). This applies to federally funded roads and state roads. The restriction includes private property. If you or I were to erect a "NO WAR IN IRAQ" or "SUPPORT THE TROOPS" sign today within the distance limits, we would be in violation of State law. The reasoning for this restriction has its genesis in the Federal Highway Beautification Act of '65. It has been interpreted to say that without a sign restriction, political or otherwise, Alaska may lose federal highway funds for being out of compliance. Correspondence with the Federal Highway Administration on this subject, shows this to be untrue (see attached letter from FHWA).
Similar restrictions, contained in city/county ordinance or state law, have been struck down in three out of four state supreme courts; Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and California. A U.S. District Court in Missouri found in '93 that very few restrictions could be placed on signage erected on private property. The U.S. Supreme court heard a case in '94 concerning private property and upheld the rights of the property owner. Further, there is a landslide of peripheral case law relating to this subject. If AS 19.25.105 stands as currently written, the state of Alaska is in danger of litigation and certain defeat.
We have a country which is based on the premise that all powers reside in the people and that the government derives its authority from the consent of the governed. Hence, we the people have the right to advocate or choose who governs us. This right should have little or no restriction.
This law needs to be amended, first to save the time and expense to the individual citizen who must challenge the current restriction of free speech, and second to save the state the cost of defense plus the likely legal fees awarded to a victorious citizen. I urge your support for this legislation.