ATLANTA — Billboards advertising strippers and go-go dancers would be outlawed under legislation that passed the House on Wednesday.

The bill also places 70-foot height restrictions on billboards and bans electronic signs with flashing lights that have become increasingly popular along the roadway.

The legislation passed 145-70.

Stripped from the bill was a controversial proposal that would have given companies that lower their billboards more freedom to clear and trim back trees.

“We should rename this the billboard deforestation bill,” Rep. Brian Thomas, R-Lilburn, said as that part of the bill was debated.

Several lawmakers — including the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee — said the ban on adult entertainment billboards was likely to be declared unconstitutional on free speech grounds. Some Democrats said it was there as cover for the tree removal portion of the legislation.

Rep. Dan Lakly, R-Peachtree City, said he opposed the bill as anti-business and anti-property rights. He said claims that the measure would harm the environment were overblown.

“People don’t like billboards. Well you know what? Get over it,” Lakly said.

The new limits would take effect in July. The ban on electronic billboards with moving signs and flashing lights makes exceptions for signs providing public service announcements like time, weather and traffic information.

Rep. Tommy Smith, R-Nicholls, had a pressing concern about the portion of the bill regarding adult entertainment billboards.

“You’re not messing with Hooters are you?” Smith asked.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tom McCall, R-Elberton, assured him it would not affect the restaurant’s many roadway signs.

The bill now moves to the state Senate.


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