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Proposed billboard restriction could help beautify Burnet County roads, officials say

AUSTIN — A bill that would allow county commissioners to regulate billboards along rural roadways is getting a positive nod from Burnet County Commissioner Joe Don Dockery.

In years past, Dockery and other officials have opposed large billboards along scenic sections of Texas 71 and RR 1431.

“It is a short bill,” the commissioner said March 3. “If it gives the county more regulatory authority (over billboard construction), that would be a good thing to have.” 

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, recently filed House Bill 1360, which would allow county commissioners courts to prohibit the erection of “off-premise signs” on roads in the unincorporated area of a county.

Off-premise signs include outdoor advertising billboards. 

Two years ago during the 81st session, Senate Bill 1266 called for restrictions on billboards along Texas 71 between the western limits of Austin and Texas 16.  

However, the legislation hit a dead end on the House floor, Dockery said. 

Yet, the Coleman bill may revive efforts to restrict billboard construction to preserve scenery and enhance road safety along rural roads, Dockery said. 

Previous legislative efforts to regulate billboards have been focused on 71, RR 1431 and other specific highways, Dockery said. 

However, the Coleman bill lets every county commissioner in Texas regulate billboard advertising in rural areas, regardless of road location or county population. 

“It (the Coleman bill) appears to be statewide.” Dockery said. 

The bill has a long way to go before it becomes law, he added. 

“There are seven steps for a bill to become law,” Dockery said. “It (the Coleman bill) is at step one.”